The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Salad Dressings

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When it comes to eating right, not all salad dressings are created equal. Find the healthiest salad dressing for you with the roundup below.

We know a fresh salad packed with green vegetables is good for us, but a salad is only as good as the dressing you choose to put on top. In general, salad dressings are either oil-based or cream-based. This distinction is important to know when deciphering whether or not a given product is healthy. Generally speaking, the healthiest salad dressing will be a vinaigrette like balsamic or oil and vinegar, while Caesar, ranch or anything with the word “creamy” will be the unhealthiest.

The exception? We like products made with healthy swaps—think Greek yogurt in place of mayo or heavy cream. Looking carefully at the list of ingredients will help you understand which salad dressings are healthy and unhealthy choices.

Healthiest Salad Dressings

Organic Honey Mustard Vinaigrettevia annies.com

1. Annie’s Organic Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 70
  • Total Fat: 6g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 170mg

Here’s a great alternative to Caesar or ranch dressing! This creamy vinaigrette is made with Dijon mustard, honey for natural sweetness, sea salt and expeller-pressed vegetable oil. (Expeller-pressed oil is produced by mechanically squeezing the oil from nuts or seeds, as opposed to using a chemical method of extraction.) Pair the dressing with greens and this grilled chicken for a light dinner.

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Strawberry Poppyseed Greek Yogurt Dressingvia litehousefoods.com

2. Litehouse OPA Greek Yogurt Strawberry Poppyseed Dressing

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 60
  • Total Fat: 3g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 135mg

Looking for something a little sweeter? This yogurt-based dressing will brighten up your salad without adding a ton of sugar. The creamy texture and sweet strawberry flavor are likely to convert even the harshest salad critics. It pairs perfectly with healthy strawberry salads.

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ITALIAN VINAIGRETTEvia bolthouse.com

3. Bolthouse Farms Italian Vinaigrette

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 25
  • Total Fat: 1.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 140mg

This healthy salad dressing has bold flavor but only 25 calories per serving. It’s made with a delicious combination of ingredients including white wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and herbs. Plus, there’s no added sugar! You won’t even realize you’re eating a low-fat dressing…especially when it’s drizzled on top of roasted vegetables.

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Organic Apple Cider Vinaigrettevia bragg.com

4. Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinaigrette

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 80
  • Total Fat: 7g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 20mg

This basic vinaigrette is perfect for salad dressing or as a marinade. With only apple cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic, honey and coconut aminos, this dressing is made from whole ingredients that you know and love. The coconut aminos add a salty flavor, so there is no added salt in this dressing. That means it’s a super low-sodium option!

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Champagne Vinaigrettevia briannas.com

5. Brianna’s Champagne Vinaigrette

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 120
  • Total Fat: 10g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 140mg

With no added sugar, this tangy dressing combines the flavors of Dijon mustard, honey, heart-healthy canola oil, capers and white wine vinegar. This vinaigrette has about a third of the sodium compared to most other dressings, but you won’t be able to tell the difference. This would pair really well with a spicy arugula salad.

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Avocado Oil & Extra Virgin Olive Oil Greek Dressingvia newmansown.com

6. Newman’s Own Avocado Oil & Extra Virgin Olive Oil Greek Dressing

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 150
  • Total Fat: 16g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5g
  • Sodium: 230mg

Not all healthy dressings have to be vinaigrettes after all! You won’t miss the dairy in this creamy vegan dressing. It combines healthy fats from extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil with vinegar and spices to achieve its creamy texture. Pair with your favorite Greek salad ingredients, a grilled protein and some whole wheat pita bread for a perfect Mediterranean-inspired meal.

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Unhealthiest Salad Dressings

Creamy Caesarvia maries.com1. Marie’s Creamy Caesar

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 120
  • Total Fat: 13g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5g
  • Sodium: 180mg

With primary ingredients like Romano cheese and sour cream, it’s easy to see why this dressing is not the healthiest. It’s likely very tasty, but smothering a salad with all the added calories and fat will take away from the healthy choice of a salad you initially made.

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Thousand Islandvia kensfoods.com

2. Ken’s Steak House Thousand Island

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 140
  • Total Fat: 13g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 240mg

One of the first ingredients in Ken’s Steak House Thousand Island dressing is corn syrup, meaning it’s high in added sugar, a big driver in bodily inflammation. There are also plenty of additives in this dressing, like propylene glycol alginate, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate. If you’re trying to eat healthy, skip this one.

Surprised? See what other “healthy foods” aren’t so healthy after all.

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briannas Classic Buttermilk Ranchvia briannas.com

3. Brianna’s Home Style Classic Buttermilk Ranch

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 160
  • Total Fat: 17g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.5g
  • Sodium: 280mg

Egg yolks and buttermilk provide saturated fat that could negatively affect heart health. It’s also high in sodium with almost 300 mg per serving. So, think twice before you top healthy greens with this dressing, and reach for a healthy vinaigrette instead.

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HIDDEN VALLEY® CHEDDAR & BACON FLAVORED RANCHvia hiddenvalley.com

4. Hidden Valley Cheddar & Bacon Flavored Ranch

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 100
  • Total Fat: 11g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.5g
  • Sodium: 320mg

We hate to break it to you, but anything with “cheddar” and “bacon” in the name isn’t going to be your healthiest option. Hidden Valley’s ranch dressing is high in sodium due in part to the cheddar, Parmesan, Romano and jack cheeses it contains. There are also over 20 ingredients in this dressing, many of which are preservatives. Best to save this one for a special occasion.

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CHUNKY BLUE CHEESE DRESSINGvia wish-bone.com

5. Wish-Bone Chunky Blue Cheese

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 130
  • Total Fat: 14g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5g
  • Sodium: 230mg

While the flavor of blue cheese is oh-so-delicious, it does pack a punch in terms of saturated fat and sodium, due to not only the blue cheese but also the buttermilk and egg yolks.

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When choosing a healthy salad dressing, look for healthy, unsaturated fats like olive, canola, avocado or vegetable oil over saturated fats like buttermilk, mayonnaise, egg yolks or cheese. Note whether sugar is added and watch how much sodium is in your dressing, too. The best alternative is to make dressing from scratch. In fact, a homemade vinaigrette comes together in minutes!

How to Make Homemade Salad Dressing
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Christina Manian, RDN
Christina Manian is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist based out of Boulder, Colorado. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, she has been involved with the nutrition departments of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mass General Hospital. She completed her nutrition education at the Mayo Clinic with a focus on medical nutrition therapy and most recently practiced clinical nutrition at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. While her background has largely been in the clinical setting, Christina embraces and is shifting her focus towards wellness nutrition as the backbone to optimum health.