Enjoy homemade zesty Italian dressing on lettuce salads, pasta salads, sandwiches and more. Make your own in five minutes, with no artificial ingredients. 

Small glass bottle of homemade italian dressing on wooden cutting board surrounded by colorful vegetables.

Don’t you just love the all-you-can-eat salads at Olive Garden? Especially with those warm breadsticks! I could easily make a meal with just salad and breadsticks. The salad is simple: lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, olives, croutons, and Parmesan cheese. Oh, I almost forgot the little pickled pepperoncini. 

Well, guess what? You can easily duplicate this salad at home with your own homemade Italian dressing! I even have a recipe for croutons that are the best, a hundred times better than store bought.

Why make your own dressing?

  • It’s more healthy. You won’t find artificial ingredients in this dressing. No “natural flavors,” or maltodextrin, or xanthan gum. Just good-for-you olive oil, vinegar, herbs and seasonings.
  • Homemade is fresher. You can whip it up in less than 5 minutes.
  • It’s economical. You probably have the ingredients you need right in your pantry. And you know what?
  • Homemade dressing tastes way better.

Looking for an easy recipe for pasta salad? Simply mix up a batch of this Italian dressing and stir it into your favorite pasta and veggie mix. It’s simple!

If you’d like more complete recipes, try this Caprese Pasta Salad or Tortellini Pasta Salad with Pepperoni.

Overhead view of Italian dressing in a small glass bottle, surrounded by fresh vegetables on a wooden cutting board.

About this Italian dressing recipe:

This Italian dressing is a basic vinaigrette: oil, vinegar, seasonings. You can whisk it together in a small bowl or shake it up in a jar. Make it ahead — it will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator.

I like to use a good extra virgin olive oil because it tastes so good and is healthy, but other mild tasting oils are fine, too. Canola and grapeseed oil are good choices.

Add white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar. Both are great, white wine vinegar is a little less tangy. Sometimes I make this dressing with balsamic vinegar and that’s delicious, too.

Dried herbs work great. If you have fresh herbs, those are fantastic, too. For authentic Italian flavor, I like oregano, basil, and parsley. Season your dressing with garlic powder, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, or more than a pinch, if you like a little extra heat.

That’s it! Shake or stir until blended, and you’re ready to add the best Italian dressing to your salad.

Don’t stop at salads, though! Besides leafy green salads and pasta salads, Italian dressing is great on sandwiches and wraps. Or marinate olives, veggies, or fresh mozzarella cheese for a delightful appetizer.

Small glass bottle of homemade italian dressing on wooden cutting board surrounded by colorful vegetables.

How to make this Italian salad dressing your own:

  • For creamy Italian dressing, whisk in 1/4 cup mayonnaise.
  • Make it cheesy: Add 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Substitute lemon juice for the vinegar, and add the zest of one lemon, for lemony Italian vinaigrette.
  • Make an Italian marinade: Reduce oil by one half. Add to chicken, pork, or beef in a zip top bag and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • Use fresh herbs instead of dried, and double the amount called for. Dressing made with fresh herbs won’t keep quite as long.

Small glass bottle of homemade italian dressing on wooden cutting board surrounded by colorful vegetables.

Storage Tips

Store leftover dressing in a small jar in the fridge for up to one week. Remember, you can make a new batch in less than five minutes!

Small glass bottle of homemade italian dressing on wooden cutting board surrounded by colorful vegetables.

Homemade salad dressings

Once you make homemade dressing, you’ll never go back to store bought. Here’s some of my favorites (and remember, they are easy to customize to your liking):

 

Small glass bottle of homemade italian dressing on wooden cutting board surrounded by colorful vegetables.

Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe

Yield: 3/4 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Enjoy homemade zesty Italian dressing on lettuce salads, pasta salads, sandwiches and more. Make your own in five minutes, with no artificial ingredients. 

Ingredients

  • ½ cup oil (olive, canola, or grapeseed oil)
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons honey or granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, if desired

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small jar or bowl; shake or whisk until combined.
  2. If dressing doesn’t emulsify, add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  
  3. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container or jar for up to a week. Shake well before using. If dressing solidifies slightly, allow to come to room temperature.

Notes

  • For creamy Italian dressing, whisk in 1/4 cup mayonnaise.
  • Add 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Substitute lemon juice for the vinegar, and add the zest of one lemon, for lemony Italian vinaigrette.
  • Use fresh herbs instead of dried, and double the amount called for.
  • To use as marinade for meat: Make recipe as directly, reducing oil to 1/4 cup.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 179Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 376mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 0g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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Verdict: You can’t go wrong with this classic dressing!
Husband’s take: No complaints from him!
Changes I would make: None!
Difficulty: Easy!