10 Ways to Make a ‘Special Salad Dressing,’ According to Lifehacker Readers

10 Ways to Make a ‘Special Salad Dressing,’ According to Lifehacker Readers

I rarely dive into the discourse, but last week I had to because the discourse was centred around salad dressing. Specifically, the “special” salad dressing that Olivia Wilde allegedly made for Harry Styles. The dressing turned out to be the fairly standard vinaigrette (called it) from Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, but it resulted in many of you sharing a treasure trove of their own “special” dressing recipes in the comments, so I’m not mad about it. Not even a little.

Click on through to avail yourself of the delicious treasure, courtesy of your fellow readers. You may find a new favourite, be reminded of an old love, or be inspired to create your own “special” and unique salad dressing. (If you need further help crafting your own, try this template, which is where I usually start with vinaigrettes.)

Simple vinaigrettes are very popular

10 Ways to Make a ‘Special Salad Dressing,’ According to Lifehacker Readers

Honestly, most of the time I make a dressing, it’s a vinaigrette, and doing so is not particularly complicated. Like these readers, I’m a big fan of keeping things simple (and acidic).

From Bowks14:

I am a Heinz Salad Vinegar fan and so mine is pretty simple. Heinz Salad Vinegar, light olive oil, garlic salt, pepper…that’s it! I just use way more vinegar than anything because I am an acid boy. I could drink it straight out of the bottle like a psycho!

From TxVoodoo:

I’m so boring. Balsamic + olive oil + garlic. Or red wine vinegar for balsamic.

I like my dressing to just highlight the salad, not disguise it.

From JamesinCalifornia:

Olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, dill, salt, and pepper.

From pizzapartymadness:

Basic homemade is EVOO, red wine vinegar, italian herbs, salt and pepper. Quick and easy.

Something a little more fancy is EVOO, balsamic vinegar, minced/pressed garlic, herbs de provence, dijon, salt and pepper.

Less simple vinaigrettes are also common

10 Ways to Make a ‘Special Salad Dressing,’ According to Lifehacker Readers

These dressings are almost as simple as those shared on the last slide, but they contain an extra little something that sets them apart — be that fish sauce, shallot, tomatoes, or MSG.

From malo-ji:

A smidge of honey and a dab of mustard (any kind, Grey Poupon to Yellow), a couple of dashes of fish sauce (umami baby!), red wine vinegar and olive oil. Salt & pepper.

Imre_R

I usually go for the classic white vinegar (white balsamic/ apple cider / generic white), dijon, maple syrup (switched from honey because of vegan friendly-ness) and I usually add either a dash of Maggi or pure MSG.

Kelsey Stevens

My “secret” salad dressing is Samin Nosrat’s tomato vinaigrette, a dressing so good (especially in the late summer with great tomatoes) that I will literally drink it. Honestly, every salad dressing in Salt Fat Acid Heat is fantastic.

rank19

This one kills every time:

  • 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • salt + pepper

Whisk the hell out of it.

An orange-cumin vinaigrette with sherry vinegar

10 Ways to Make a ‘Special Salad Dressing,’ According to Lifehacker Readers

I can’t wait to try this juicy, smokey little number on a carrot salad.

From Mudi-B:

It’s “Spanish” — great on farro or carrot salad:

  • Zest and juice of 1 orange (or 1/4 cup juice)
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot or onion
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2-2/3 cup oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Makes about 1 cup – I’ve honestly never written it down, so thanks. Sometimes I add a pinch of thyme, sometimes a tsp of mayo for a creamier emulsion, sometimes a splash of lemon for extra brightness.

A sweet chilli-hoisin dressing

10 Ways to Make a ‘Special Salad Dressing,’ According to Lifehacker Readers

I would eat this on plain iceberg, to be quite honest.

From Harmon20:

  • 1 1/2 cup hoisin
  • 80 ml red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet chilli sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Don’t know what to call it other than “sweet Asian vinaigrette.” I don’t call it “my special salad dressing” publicly. I guess it would be fine on about anything, or squirted directly into one’s pie hole, but I make it for a specific salad. Cubed sous vide chicken breast, 50/50 mix of shredded iceberg and Napa cabbage (chiffonade leaf greens and small dice leaf white body), small dice celery, spring onion rounds, fine julienne carrots, chopped cilantro, sprinkle of sesame seed and fresh black pepper. In this salad proper cutting of ingredients is key because the way it eats completely changes the flavour.

Two dressings for the price of one

Photo: Elena Veselova, Shutterstock
Photo: Elena Veselova, Shutterstock

This clever commenter was nice enough to share two special dressings with us, both of which sound delicious.

From idiggory:

My general purpose vinaigrette is more or less that one above. But I like to add herbs based on my mood and the salad. The mustard is usually Dijon, but honestly sometimes I’m more in the mood for the extra bite from a spicy brown. I also generally prefer a cider vinegar over red, but I’m an equal opportunity vinegar lover in general.

My other go-to is somewhere between a Japanese American carrot dressing and an actual Japanese ginger dressing. Mostly because I find the orange from the carrot appealing. So ginger, carrot, soy sauce, garlic, rice vinegar, a neutral oil, and sugar. Often I like to use honey instead of sugar, and replace some of the neutral oil with sesame oil.

Toss all the solids into a food processor, slowly add the liquids, then slowly emulsify in the oil and done.

Combine two store-bought dressings for something unique

10 Ways to Make a ‘Special Salad Dressing,’ According to Lifehacker Readers

This is my favourite kind of “hack” — the kind that hinges on store-bought ingredients, but transforms them into something new and interesting.

From WinglessVictory:

Ken’s Honey Mustard and Marzetti’s Simply Dressed Lemon Vinaigrette mixed half and half. I use that on our Amazing Salad served at all family gatherings — diced roasted beets, diced roasted sweet potatoes, honeyed pecans, mixed greens, wee halved tomatoes, goat cheese and avocado slices.

Dressing for blistered shishito peppers: Kewpie Yuzo Kosho dressing mixed with Kewpie mayo half and half. Also good on tuna steaks and poke bowls.

A maple yogurt dressing that’s perfect for fall (with a zucchini dressing shoutout)

10 Ways to Make a ‘Special Salad Dressing,’ According to Lifehacker Readers

Yogurt is an underrated salad dressing base. It’s creamy and tangy — two of my favourite things.

From ahavatamid:

Maple Yogurt Dressing

  • 120 ml Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons mild vinegar (rice, apple cider)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil

This started out for a spinach, apple, walnut, goat cheese salad, but it’s also good for coleslaw too. Also works as a dip for apples.

Claire’s Zucchini salad dressing has become a favourite.

Ketchup dressing in a teacup

10 Ways to Make a ‘Special Salad Dressing,’ According to Lifehacker Readers

This one threw me at first, but now I want to try it. After all, what is ketchup but a bunch of tasty ingredients, pre-assembled for ease of use?

From TR4-250:

Cover the bottom of a tea cup with pepper. Cover the pepper with salt. Cover the salt with sugar. Add about 1/2 inch oil — remember this is in a teacup. Add a good glug or two of ketchup. Add about 1/2 inch of water and some garlic or other seasonings. Stir and pour over salad.

“Doctored” Hidden Valley Ranch

10 Ways to Make a ‘Special Salad Dressing,’ According to Lifehacker Readers

I appreciate everything about this detailed comment, especially the inclusion of the Hidden Valley packet.

From TheNerdyMel:

My “secret” dressing recipe is inherited from my mum. It’s basically doctored Hidden Valley Ranch for potato salad (but also tasty on lettuce or as a dip).

The real secret is grating a medium to large onion into a 453.59 g container of sour cream (full fat is a noticable difference here and worth the caloric splurge). And you have to do it by hand. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t taste right if you mix this in a food processor. Maybe it needs the blood from when you inevitably scrape a knuckle on the grater.

I like to add some finely minced fresh parsley and a thorough grind of good black pepper at this stage, but my mum didn’t do that.

To that you add a quarter cup of wine (mum’s version) or cider (mine) vinegar. (Really whatever mild vinegar you have around the house or even lemon juice is fine. Avoid balsamic and rice vinegars because the flavour overwhelms.), a couple of spoonfuls of mayonnaise and a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix.

For lettuce salad dressing, I cut back on the mayo and sometimes up the vinegar. For dip, I only add a couple of teaspoons of vinegar (tasting after each one) and omit the mayo entirely.

With vinaigrettes, I’ve found that the secret is to have a seasoning blend you really like as the base. I’m partial to Penzey’s Fox Point, which is pricey with its freeze dried garlic and scallions (and has enough salt to be a problem if you’re not paying attention), but also basically instant and like any good vinaigrette base, infinitely adjustable. I don’t think I’ve ever made Fox Point vinaigrette the same way twice, but I also don’t think I’ve ever made it come out wildly different except by using a very strongly flavored oil like sesame.

An herby, spicy, punchy ranch

10 Ways to Make a ‘Special Salad Dressing,’ According to Lifehacker Readers

Another spin on classic ranch. We do love to see it.

From Jean Reid:

Mayo, Sour Cream, Cilantro, Dry Ranch Dressing, Pickled Jalapenos, Pickled Jalapenos Juice, Lime Juice, Salt, sugar. Blend in a blender or food processor. Play with the juices until you get the thickness you like.


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