3 Healthy Salad Dressing Recipes This Nutritionist Swears By

Registered dietitian Cynthia Sass shares her three favourite healthy salad dressing recipes.

Salad dressings are a mixed bag. They can be incredibly healthful, or loaded with unwanted ingredients like sweeteners, fillers, and preservatives. Sadly, the latter is true for many bottled brands. Among the wall of options available at my local market, there are only a few pre-made dressings I will personally use or recommend.

Products that do earn my approval have high quality ingredient lists that read like a recipe I could have made at home; however, they can also be quite pricey. Fortunately, whipping up do-it-yourself versions in your kitchen is much easier and more affordable than you might think.

How to make salad dressing

I have three favourite simple salad dressing recipes. Each offers a unique flavour profile and texture, and all three can be used in a variety of ways.

For example, I use my mustardy balsamic vinaigrette to marinate fresh veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The seasoned tahini can be drizzled over oven-roasted veggies or potatoes, or used as a dip with raw veggies. I also like to toss my avocado dressing with shredded or spiralized veggies for a simple side dish, or add a dollop to lentil or black bean soup.

Because the ingredients are ultra fresh, I don’t recommend making larger batches to store. For this reason, the recipes call for smaller portions and are meant to be made for immediate use. However, if you’re cooking for two you can double the ingredients, quadruple for four, and so on. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Here’s how to make them and why each adds not just flavour, but also a dose of health protection to your dish.

healthy salad dressing recipes | balsamic salad dressingPhoto Credit: Cynthia Sass

Mustardy Balsamic Vinaigrette

We’ve long known that extra virgin olive oil is heart healthy. But a 2019 study published in Revue Neurologique suggests it also protects the brain and may help prevent late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

As for vinegar, its acetic acid, which provides the sour aroma and flavour, has also been shown to help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and support healthy weight management, according to a 2017 study in Food Chemistry.

I love this dressing on a traditional garden salad. For an entrée salad, toss the dressing with leafy greens, add other vegetables of your choice, and top with a scoop of lentils for plant protein and fibre-rich energizing carbohydrates. All four of the ingredients in this simple dressing are also antioxidant-rich.

Servings: 1


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons stone ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning


Whisk ingredients together. Transfer to a sealable jar, and shake well just before serving.

Tip: If you want to add another healthy fat source to your salad, like nuts or avocado, omit the oil in the dressing. The vinegar, mustard, and herbs alone will nicely coat and season your greens.

(Related: The Safest Cooking Oils to Use for 16 Different Types of Meals)

healthy salad dressing recipes | tahini salad dressingPhoto Credit: Cynthia Sass

Seasoned Tahini Dressing

The star ingredient in this dressing is tahini, which is made from ground sesame seeds. A two tablespoon portion contains five grams of protein and three grams of fibre.

It’s also nutrient-rich, providing copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, and thiamin, in addition to antioxidants. The phytosterols in tahini have been shown to help improve artery health and lower blood cholesterol, indicates a June 2020 study in Lipids.

Tahini is a great option for those with nut allergies or sensitivities (as long as sesame seeds are not an issue), and it’s a creamy plant-based alternative to dairy-based dressings.

I love to pair this dressing with spinach or lightly massaged kale, topped with oven-roasted chickpeas.

Servings: 1


  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Pinch ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch sea salt


Stir the lemon juice and maple syrup into the tahini. Slowly add the water and continue to stir to create a uniform pourable consistency. (Note: The tahini may appear to thicken at first, but continue to add the water a little at a time and stir until smooth.)

Fold in the garlic, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Add a little more of any of the seasonings if needed, based on your taste and heat preference.

(Related: This Tahini Beet Green Bowl Is a No-Brainer Weekday Meal)

healthy salad dressing recipes | avocado salad dressingPhoto Credit: Cynthia Sass

Avocado Herb Dressing

Avocado is rich in antioxidants and key nutrients like potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure, heart, and muscle function. Eating avocado has also been shown to aid weight control and protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

While traditional guacamole also makes a fantastic salad dressing, this thinner pureed variation takes on a whole new flavour profile. The aromatic basil combined with the garlic, vinegar, and lemon are light and bright, with just the right amount of mouth-puckering tartness.

I love to serve this dressing with butter lettuce, topped with white beans, garnished with a few pumpkin seeds or pomegranate arils.

Servings: 1


  • Half of a ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch sea salt


Add all ingredients to a small food processor and blend until smooth.

Next: Recipes for mushroom boats, a pumpkin spice salad, and the perfect chicken noodle soup.

The Healthy
Originally Published on The Healthy