The Best Plant-Based Salad Dressings

Salad dressing... it's such a simple thing, and yet not. A good dressing can make or break a salad, which of course can then make or break your desire to eat a salad. Some store-bought dressings are loaded with low-quality oils, added sugars, and weird preservatives, so homemade is really the way to go. A freshly-made dressing is so much more flavorful too!

But how do you make a good, interesting, flavorful dressing? What ingredients are useful, and how can they be combined? I've heard from a lot of people who have salad dressing questions, so I wanted to dedicate a post specifically to salad dressings.

My goal with this post is to give some basic concepts, as well as a bunch of ideas and examples. Many of these ideas have been contributed by other foodies, so please check out their Instagram pages and blogs for more inspiration! I hope you can use these as a jumping-off point for creating all sorts of interesting, unique, homemade dressings that will make you crave salads all year long.

Above: A simple and summery vinaigrette with olive oil, cider vinegar, coarse-grained mustard, honey, fresh basil, salt, and pepper. You can use this as a base vinaigrette concept, swapping in any vinegar, sweetener, and herbs you like. I love vinaigrettes because they're so flavorful and easily customizable.

First, let's start with the basics. What are the main components of a dressing? While there's certainly a huge amount of flex in this, I envision a dressing as generally having:
  • Fat. This is what makes your dressing luscious and wonderful, and also what makes it stick to your veggies. This could include olive oil, blended avocado, tahini, almond butter, yogurt, etc. Mustard can act like a fat as well. Don't try to make a dressing without a fatty component, it will end up thin and drippy and disappointing. Plus, the fat actually helps your body absorb the nutrients from those beautiful veggies.
  • Acid. This is what makes your dressing come alive! This includes any sort of citrus juice or vinegar, and is key to making your dressing bright and flavorful. Yogurt can also add a tangy flavor.
  • Other flavorings. These make your dressing unique and include anything from herbs to spices to garlic to fruit.
  • Salt. Don't forget it! Salt has a very important place in the kitchen and in the diet, despite its bad reputation. It's a critical nutrient for the body, as long as you consume it in moderation. If you eat a whole food diet, you're fine to add a sprinkle here and there, and it will wake up all your other flavors.

Above: This is my Somewhere Over The Rainbow Pasta Salad. It has a luscious lemon-tahini dressing that you'll want to put on everything. Check it out!

Okay, so now what? Where do you start? Personally speaking, I like dressings that are really acidic, so I usually work with a 2:1 ratio of acid to fat. But most people probably prefer the inverse, so think about what flavors you like and go from there. The good news is that you can taste and adjust as you go, so don't be afraid to experiment. If you're working with liquid ingredients, just mix them up an give it a taste. If you're working with thicker or solid ingredients (e.g. avocado, tahini, yogurt, fruit), enlist the help of a blender.

Don't be afraid to make a big batch! Most dressings keep great in the fridge for a week or two, and they're a wonderful thing to have on-hand. If you make a big batch over the weekend, you'll have great ways to dress up your veggies all week long.

One final thought before we dive in. Salad dressings aren't just for salad! Any of the ideas below would be great drizzled over roasted or grilled veggies or over a Buddha Bowl. The thicker ones are great as dips.

Above: My Apple Cider Harvest Salad. It has a dressing made from an apple cider reduction that's really unique and totally wonderful. Head to the post for more details.

To get you started, here are some ideas, listed in alphabetical order by dressing name. A couple are from me, but most are from other wonderfully creative, veggie-loving foodies. I hope you can use these ideas as springboards to inspire your own homemade dressings.


Blueberry Vinaigrette
Contributed by Stella of The Whole Scoop Blog. Check out her blog and Instagram feed (@TheWholeScoopBlog) for super fresh and colorful plant-based eats and Greek flavors.

This vinaigrette is exploding with bright, summery, fruity flavors, which are complement by tartness from balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Stella loves it on a harvest salad with roasted veggies, as shown above. This dressing can go seamlessly from summer to fall.
  • 0.5 c fresh blueberries
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. This will make about half a cup of dressing.


Green Goddess Dressing
I posted this in Instagram a few weeks ago and you all went crazy for it, so here's a more detailed description!

This is a creamy, dreamy, herby dressing that gets its wonderful texture from avocado! It's a versatile dressing that is wonderful drizzled on absolutely anything from salad to grilled veggies to grilled protein (or tossed with roasted cauliflower, as shown above!). Switch it up by using different citrus or different herbs to match what flavor profile you're working with.
  • One ripe avocado
  • Juice of a lime
  • 2 c fresh basil
  • 1 c fresh cilantro
  • 1 c fresh mint
  • Generous pinch of sea salt
  • Splash of water as needed to thin out the dressing
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add a bit of water as needed to reach your desired consistency; you may want a thinner consistency for a salad dressing and a thicker one for a sauce. This will make about a cup and a half of dressing.


Magical Mint Dressing
Contributed by Andrea of @Sweet.In.Nature. Take a look at her Instagram feed for the coziest breakfasts, beautiful baked goods, and all sorts of healthy comfort food.

I fell in love with this dressing as soon as Andrea posted it, and I've made it so many times since then. It's the most wonderful, unexpected combination of flavors, and is both cozy and fresh. Andrea likes to use it on a potato and cucumber salad for summer. Change it up by using Dijon mustard instead of honey mustard, using honey instead of maple syrup, or varying the herbs.
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 2 tbsp honey mustard
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Handful of chopped fresh mint
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • Leaves from a few sprigs of thyme, optional
Combine all the ingredients and stir well. This makes about a cup of dressing.


Maple Mustard Yogurt Dressing

This one is a creamy, sweet-and-tangy dressing made from a yogurt base. It can easily be made vegan. It's delightfully luscious and would be great on any salad you want to give a cozy vibe too. It also works beautifully as a dip or as a drizzle on roasted veggies. Change it up by using honey instead of maple syrup, or by using a splash of apple cider instead of lemon juice.
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Few tbsp unsweetened, unflavored yogurt of choice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp coarse-grained mustard, ideally homemade!
  • Generous salt and pepper
Combine all the ingredients and stir well. This will make a generous half cup of dressing.


Muhammara Dressing
Contributed by Noha of @LeeksAndBeets. Check out her feed for the most beautiful, interesting bowls and true veggie love.

This dressing is exploding with flavor and Middle Eastern flair, as well as protein! Its luscious texture makes it great on a salad, but also on grilled veggies or any of Noha's gorgeous Buddha Bowls. You can vary the spice level, so customize it to fit your tastes.
  • 1 c walnuts
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper
  • 0.5 c water
  • 0.25 c olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1.5 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Half or less of a serrano pepper optional, if you like heat!
Combine all of the ingredients in a high-power blender and blend until smooth. This will make about two cups of dressing.


Lime and Mint Yogurt Dressing
From Mimmi of @NeverEnoughGreens. Head to her feed for incredible fruit platters, impressive baked goods, and seasonal veggies.

This bright, flavorful dressing is bursting with summery flair, but is also creamy and indulgent. It gets it creaminess from yogurt and can easily be made vegan. Mimmi likes to use it on a big, summery salad like the one above; it pairs especially well with watermelon! It also makes for a great drizzle on grilled veggies. Change it up by using different fresh herbs or citrus.
  • 0.5 c thick, unflavored, unsweetened yogurt of choice
  • Zest of a lime
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 0.5 tsp agave
  • Big handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
Combine all the ingredients and stir well. This makes about a cup of dressing.


Peach Dijon Vinaigrette

This is my favorite dressing to make during the summer! It's light and bright, and pairs beautifully with any salad involving fruit and/or fresh herbs. It also takes about one minute to make, so it's a great last-minute dressing or marinade. Change it up by using any fruity, infused balsamic.
  • 0.25 c peach-infused white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp good, robust olive oil
  • 2 tbsp coarse-grained mustard, ideally homemade!
  • 0.25 tsp mineral-rich sea salt
Combine all the ingredients and stir well. Make sure to re-stir before using, since the dressing will separate as it sits. This makes about half a cup of dressing.


Spicy Avocado Citrus Dressing
Contributed by Amy of @TheVeggiePalette. Head to her feed for a fun and unique synthesis of plant-based food and art that will change how you see food.

This dressing combines sweet, spicy, herby, and creamy into a very flavorful package. Drizzle it over a salad, slather it on grilled veggies, or use it as a dip. It particularly excels with Mexican-inspired flavors. It's everything you love about guacamole, but in a citrusy salad dressing form!
  • Ripe avocado
  • Juice of two oranges
  • Juice of a lime
  • Half a jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • Small scallion, minced
  • Clove or two of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 0.5 tsp salt
Combine all of the ingredients except the avocado in a blender or food processor and blend until combined. Add the avocado and blend another 5-10 seconds. This will make about a cup of dressing.


Strawberry Vinaigrette
Contributed by Catrina of @PlantedFamilies. Check out her Instagram feed for everything from fun snacks to fresh salads to nourishing sweet treats, as well as kid-friendly eats.

This dressing screams summer! It's lovely with any sort of summery salad, especially one involving berries. Or use it as a drizzle over balsamic-grilled veggies! Catrina likes to use it on a fresh summer salad like the one above, which has spinach, cucumbers, strawberries, and walnuts.
  • 2 c fresh strawberries
  • 0.25 c neutral-flavored oil, like sunflower or avocado
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives
  • 0.5 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 0.5 tsp sea salt, or more to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. This will make about two cups of dressing.


Turmeric Maple Dressing
Contributed by Lindsay of @LivingWith4FromScratch. Check out her blog and Instagram feed for creative bowls, cozy baked goods, and family-friendly cooking inspiration.

This luscious, creamy dressing is as versatile as it is nourishing. Turmeric has a wide variety of health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties and is considered by many to be a "superfood". Its earthy, floral flavor allows it to pair with a diverse array of ingredients, like the black bean and peach salad shown above. Drizzle this dressing over any salad or bowl.
  • 0.5 c unsweetened, unflavored yogurt
  • 1 tsp golden milk powder or paste (this is a concentrated combination of turmeric and other spices that you use to make golden milk; numerous companies sell it, but you can also make your own at home)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
Combine all the ingredients and stir well. This makes about half a cup of dressing.


And there you have it- ten awesome, flavorful, easy to make, plant-based, good-for-the-body salad dressing recipes (plus links to a few more). Thanks to my foodie friends for contributing to this post, I always love getting new salad dressing ideas! We all hope this will inspire you to make more salads all year-long, and to fall even more in love with fresh, colorful veggies. Don't forget that these dressings also make great marinades, sauces, and dips as well.

Have you made one of these delicious, flavorful, good-for-the-body dressings? If so, we'd love to see! Tag @TheRogueBrusselSprout in your post, as well as the foodie who contributed the dressing idea (you'll find everyone's Instagram handles above).


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