For an all-purpose, hard-to-get-tired-of salad dressing, it’s hard to beat balsamic vinaigrette. It’s more flavorful and smoother than wine vinaigrettes, and lighter and more versatile than creamy dressings like ranch. Our opinionated staffers gathered to taste test 11 brands of balsamic vinaigrette. Here’s the best salad dressing we tasted.
What’s the Best Salad Dressing? We Found Out.
Naturally, the top criteria for our judges was flavor: most looked for a well-balanced dressing, one with zip but that wasn’t too sharp or too sweet. Added flavors, like herbs or spices, had to support rather than overwhelm the dressing. Tasters also considered texture, giving high marks to full-bodied dressings that adhered to lettuce leaves, and giving low marks to runny dressings. They also considered aftertaste, mouthfeel and separation of oil and vinegar.
The Best Salad Dressing: Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette
Our tasters tipped their hats to Newman’s Own brand vinaigrette. Flavor won top scores, with tasters saying it’s “just what you want when you order balsamic vinaigrette,” with a notable balsamic flavor that wasn’t too sour or too sweet. Tasters also noted that they detected rich olive oil notes, too, as well as robust spices and herbs “that clung to salad leaves.” Before shaking, the dressing did separate, and tasters noted that it “felt natural” rather than artificially thickened. Once shaken up, the dressing had an appealing, dark color.
More Salad Dressings to Try
Ken’s Steakhouse dressing had a milder flavor than Newman’s, with the balance tipping in favor of oil instead of vinegar. Tasters marked this dressing as a good beginner’s balsamic, with a solid, not-too-sweet flavor and a rich, dark color. Like Newman’s, Ken’s earned high marks for viscosity, with a texture that sticks to salad.
Our taste testers detected plenty of nuance in Kraft’s balsamic vinaigrette. One described the dressing as “salty, tangy and vinegary,” while others noticed hints of anchovy. The dressing had the least separation, making it convenient in the way that you don’t have to shake before you drizzle. For those craving a more robust flavor in their balsamic, this one’s a good choice!
Put Your Dressing to Work
Whether you’re tossing a simple green salad or shaking a dash of vinaigrette into the cooking pot, our top three balsamic vinaigrettes will deliver plenty of sweet, tangy balsamic flavor. See how our favorite salad dressings can brighten up a simple salad, like our reader-favorite Blackberry Balsamic Spinach Salad or add a twist to savory classics like this recipe for Bacon & Tomato Spaghetti.
Prefer a homemade route? Here’s the blueprint for making any vinaigrette.
How We Chose the Winners
Our Taste of Home Test Kitchen and editors team up to taste all kinds of popular foods and run essential kitchen gear through the paces. We rank them, discuss and test again, if needed, to arrive at the products we recommend for you and your kitchen. Find out how we choose the best products and see everything we’ve tested.