Easy recipe for a homemade Italian Dressing packed with flavor and sweetened with a touch of honey. So much better than the packets and bottles!
A light olive oil produces the best Italian dressing. I find extra virgin olive oil to be a little too bitter.
In a pinch, any light cooking oil could be used, most of the flavor is going to come from the herbs, honey, and vinegar anyway.
I use white wine vinegar in this recipe. It has a mild flavor that pairs well with the rest of the ingredients.
Plain white vinegar will overpower this light dressing, just say no. The same can be said about apple cider vinegar too.
Champaign vinegar could be used, it is a bit more powerful than white wine vinegar, but still light enough to be used in this recipe.
Balsamic vinegar might be OK in this recipe, but I reserve balsamic when I need that flavor to stand out as it does in our green bean salad recipe. Balsamic vinegar is pricey!
You are going to want to add some sweetener to your dressing to cut through some of the acidity.
I use honey in this recipe, but by all means, swap it out with some sugar or corn syrup.
Corn syrup is used in the same measurement as honey. The consistency and sweetening power is the same.
You’ll need to dissolve about 1/4 cup of sugar in one tablespoon of water to make that substitution. You want to dissolve the sugar in water first so there aren’t any sugar crystals left in the dressing.
All of the ingredients used in our salad dressing recipe are gluten-free.
Please check the labeling on your parmesan cheese though to make sure that there isn’t some hidden by-product in it.
Sargento and Kraft grated parmesan cheese are gluten-free as of 2019.
Herbs and Seasonings
Italian seasoning is an obvious choice. Our recipe uses extra oregano, but it can easily be omitted.
Just a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes are added for flavor.
Extra crushed red pepper can be added for more heat, but I go easy on it. Not everybody likes a super spicy salad. Wildly raising my hand over here!
The best part about making your own is that you can add and omit whatever seasonings and spices you like. You aren’t doing that with a packet mix.
In my opinion, grated parmesan cheese adds a ton of flavor.
I don’t bother grating my own cheese, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. I used the cheaper stuff from the green can. It’s convenient and quick!
Parmesan cheese can be salty, so be aware of the salt level in whatever cheese you use and adjust the salt accordingly.
You might even skip the salt altogether and allow people to add it as they see fit.
I tend to take the lead from Olive Garden. Their salad is infamous for a reason.
So, I make mine with iceberg lettuce that has been cut into bite-sized pieces.
If you prefer romaine lettuce, it would be fine with this recipe. I stick with iceberg because it holds up better for a longer period of time than other lettuces. It’s also more economical.
I also add large croutons, black olives, red onions that have been cut into rings, and small tomato slices or cherry tomatoes. I don’t add pepperoncini, but you can if you want to!
Do you like cucumbers? Go ahead and add some! I add them to my salad bowl all the time when I’m using Italian dressing.
Honestly, you can add just about anything you want.
If you really want to beef up this salad, add some fresh parmesan cheese slices and freshly cracked black pepper.
If you plan to toss this salad before serving, try not to do it too soon, the vinegar in the dressing tends to wilt the lettuce.
Whenever serving a lot of people or carrying this to a potluck, I bring the dressing in a mason jar so that it can be shaken and poured onto individual salads.
Leftover dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month in an airtight container, if it lasts that long.
You will need to shake or stir to redistribute the oil and vinegar.
I don’t usually store this, I only make enough to use for one large salad.
It whips up so quickly and I always have the ingredients on hand so I make it fresh every time.
MORE SALAD RECIPES
- Whisk all ingredients together until well combined.
- Pour over salad or refrigerate for serving later.