How to Make A Healthy Low Calorie Salad Dressing at Home


Written by

Simon Deane

Published on

low calorie salad dressings

Sharing is caring!

Homemade salad dressings are really easy to make. You can make them low in calories by building the dressing around a low calorie base such as vinegar, lemon or lime, rather than oil. You can then add your flavours by incorporating ingredients such as garic, tamari/soya sauce, maple syrup, mustards, and fresh herbs.

Why dressings can add lots of calories to the salad

Salad dressings are often based around oil, which is the most calorie dense food available. a tablespoon of olive oil (or any type of oil) contains around 120 calories, so it’s easy to see how a salad dressing containing 3 or 4 tablespoons of oil can significantly increase the total calorie intake of a salad. Vinegar contains only a tiny fraction of the calories that oil does. A tablespoon of vinegar contains around 3 calories.

If you love the flavour or mouthfeel that oil brings to a salad and don’t want to omit it, but still want to reduce the overall calories, my recommendation is as simple as it is ingenius. Reduce the ratio of oil in the salad dressing. Oil is often mixed with an acid such as vinegar or the juice of a citrus fruit in a ratio of around 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar/juice. You can simply change this to 2:1 or 1:1 and still maintain an oily presence in the salad.

Oil is not however a prerequisite to a delicious salad dressing, and you can add a lovely flavour to your salad without the presence of oil.

Another way to lower the calorie count in a dressing but still maintain a creamy texture is to use a nut butter in the dressing such as peanut butter or almond butter, or to use tahini. These are still quite calorific but are a little lighter in calories than oil.

Why make your own salad dressing

One reason to make yur own salad dressing is because you know exactly what is going into it. Store bought dressings tend to be more processed, often containing additional ingredients such as preservatives and stabilisers. Most salad dressings you make yourself tend to be made from 5 or less ingredients.

Homemade salad dressings also taste great. You can based them around fresh ingredients such as fresh orange or lemon juice. They are also very simple to make and generally just involve throwing a few ingredients together and mixing them together.

4 Simple Salad Dressings: 2 Low Oil & 2 No Oil

Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • A sprinkle of salt and black pepper

Orange salad dressing

  • Juice of one orange (around 5 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • A sprinkle of salt and black pepper

Lemon Mustard Dressing

  • 3 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup

Oil free balsamic dressing

  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp of liquid sweetener
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning