Ordering the salad doesn’t always mean you’re making the best choice for your diet. But the problem on your plate isn’t usually the salad itself—it’s the dressing on top.
Whether it’s coming out of a restaurant or from a bottle off the supermarket shelf, salad dressing can add plenty of unnecessary calories to your daily diet—especially if it’s loaded with lower-quality omega-6 oils, sugars, and stabilizers.
Of course, few people want to eat plain old vegetables. The solution? Make your own dressing, so you can choose higher-quality ingredients and keep an eye on your macros.
Here are 10 of the healthiest and tastiest salad dressing recipes known to man.
This Middle Eastern-inspired salad dressing has only 50 calories and 4g of fat from whole food sources: sesame seeds (the prime ingredient in tahini). Diluting the mix with lemon juice and some warm water gets your tahini to the right consistency and turns a high-calorie food into a lighter dressing.
A spoonful of peanut butter makes life better. (Just make sure you opt for a brand made with peanuts only, because other varieties can be loaded with sugars and hydrogenated oils.) This spicy peanut lime dressing adds some protein and healthy fats into your salad, making for a clean meal that tastes like a cheat meal.
This sweet and savory dressing has no added sugar. It gets its sweetness from blueberries, so you’re benefiting from additional fiber and antioxidants for fewer calories. The fat in this dressing comes from avocado for even more fiber and anti-inflammatory vitamin E.
Apple cider vinaigrette is increasingly popular for its potential to control blood sugar levels and improve satiety after meals—both essential for the success of any diet plan. It’s the perfect acid component in your salad dressing, and pairs perfectly with grainy mustard and extra-virgin olive oil, one of the healthiest oils out there.
Caesar dressing is usually one of the richest and fattiest dressings on the planet—but not this one. This easy, five-minute recipe is packed with umami flavor thanks to capers. Swapping out mayonnaise for hummus reduces fat and calories, and makes this dressing vegan-friendly.
This quick and easy salad dressing recipe uses flax seeds to increase the payload of omega-3s and fiber. Combine fresh lemon and basil with ground golden flax to create a thick and hearty dressing without added fat or calories.
This tasty dressing is vegan, gluten-free, low in sodium, and free of added sugar. The pumpkin acts as a natural emulsifier, preventing the vinaigrette from “breaking” so you don’t end up pouring straight-up oil all over your salad.
For your body to fully absorb the nutrition in your veggies, it’s important to always make sure you pair them with a fat source—this dressing does just that. This heart-healthy sesame dressing derives its healthy fat content from sesame.