Why you should never buy salad dressing again

Spoiler alert: Because you can make your own!

I stopped buying salad dressing years ago, basically when I first got hooked on Food Network. I learned from my favorite TV chefs that it's simple enough to make your own, amazing dressing, using ingredients you likely already have on-hand. And the cool thing is, you can have dressing for any recipe without having to purchase multiple bottles that have different flavors. And bonus: not only is it easy to make your own dressing, but you also know EXACTLY what's in it – most importantly, none of the preservatives you'd find in most bottled dressings.

I get asked all the time how I make salad dressing. It's a simple ratio that I repeat over and over, riffing with added spices or other ingredients, depending on what I'm using it for.

The ratio is: 1 part acid to 1 part fat plus salt and pepper.

For me, if I can make a dressing using two different kinds of acid, that's what I prefer to do. It doesn't always happen, but it's extra good when it does.

So, what does that mean? Basically, I like to use lemon juice plus a vinegar. I bounce back and forth between red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and rice vinegar.

Then I riff.

Sometimes, if I want my dressing a little sweeter, or if I'm trying to caramelize something in the oven, I'll use balsamic vinegar or I'll swap out the lemon juice for orange juice. Or I'll add a little honey or maple syrup.

Or, if I'm making Mexican food, I'll use only lime juice.

From there, sometimes I add a few drops of hot sauce if I'm feeling spicy. Or a tiny squirt of dijon mustard for something a tad creamier. Or, I'll add a dollup (or two) of mayonnaise or Greek yogurt if I want it really creamy.

Then, I season it with herbs. Sometimes, I use freshly chopped, sometimes dried.

Italian blend, dill, za'atar, Tajin, curry, red pepper flake. Whatever goes with what you're serving.

If I'm feeling really fancy, I'll add in minced shallot. Or fresh grated ginger. Or lemon zest. Yum.

If I'm using the dressing as a marinade, I'll add in fresh, grated garlic.

See how simple it is? It takes like 1 minute once you get the hang of it. Try making your own dressing or marinade this week and let me know how it goes!