Zesty Italian Dressing and Marinade Recipe

Homemade Zesty Italian Dressing

I have a bit of a love affair with salad dressings, and Italian dressing is no exception. In fact before my switch to healthier foods, ranch was about all that got me to eat raw broccoli. Thankfully my journey to real food brought me to love all kinds of salads even without a lot of dressing.

Not a lot of dressing is needed when it’s freshly homemade and chock-full of herbs and spices. A simple homemade dressing takes an ordinary salad to a completely different level.

And it’s worth it from a health perspective too. Most store-bought salad dressings contain dangerous vegetable oils (high in omega-6, which we already get too much of in the American diet) and additives like MSG and carrageenan.

Homemade dressing only takes 2 or 3 minutes to mix up, contains healthy, real ingredients like olive oil, real garlic, and spices, and stores well for weeks at a time. It’s a win win!

Italian Dressing in the Kitchen

This homemade salad dressing is one of my favorites because it not only makes a great addition to almost any salad, but it also serves as a simple marinade for almost any kind of meat. And not just meat… marinate fresh vegetables for an hour or two and then grill them! The smoky flavors of the grill and the herbal flavors in the dressing combine perfectly for a really complex flavor blend.

I love this dressing tossed on a big salad with some leftover chicken for a quick lunch, or as a ranch alternative for dipping raw veggies. The healthy oils give an energy boost and the flavor is amazing!

Not an Italian dressing fan? You can also check out six more of my favorite DIY alternatives to conventional salad dressings in this post.

How to Make and Store Homemade Italian Dressing

This dressing will last approximately 2 weeks in the fridge, but I highly suggest making it in small amounts as needed as the flavor is definitely the best in the first few days.

For a great shortcut, make up a batch of homemade Italian seasoning mix to replace the thyme, basil, and oregano. Just use 1 ½ teaspoons of the Italian seasoning mix instead of the herbs listed in the recipe. Then it’s easy to make this recipe from memory. You may not even need to measure after a few practice runs!

They make shaker bottles for homemade dressing, but my advice is to stick to a glass mason jar. I love these tops to give any mason jar a pour spout.

Check out below the recipe for some favorite salads with Italian dressing.

Recipe for zesty Italian dressing
Print Pin
4.67 from 9 votes

Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe

A better-for-you version of Italian dressing without the highly processed vegetable oils!
Course Condiment
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Calories 117kcal
Author Katie Wells



  • Combine all ingredients in a small mason jar, close lid tightly, and shake vigorously. Serve immediately.


Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If refrigerated, the dressing may solidify slightly. This is perfectly okay. It happens when olive oil is chilled. Simply remove from the refrigerator about an hour before you need to use it. 


Serving: 2TBSP | Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 1.3g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 12.7g | Saturated Fat: 1.8g | Sodium: 322mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.2g

Like this recipe? Check out my new cookbook, or get all my recipes (over 500!) in a personalized weekly meal planner here!

Salad Combinations to Try with Italian Dressing:

  • Classic chopped salad – Toss with romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives (and a bit of feta if you’re in the mood!).
  • Strawberry spring salad – Try Italian in place of honey mustard dressing on this favorite spring salad concoction with toasted pecans, fresh strawberries, and chicken.
  • Simple summer salad – Splash a little Italian dressing over thinly sliced cucumbers and red onion with a few cherry tomatoes thrown in. Top with fresh basil leaves.
  • Sweet pepper steak salad – Italian dressing is not only for chicken!

The applications are endless… for other meal ideas using Italian dressing, try out my favorite Real Plans meal planning tool!

What is your favorite salad dressing? Have you tried making your own? I’d love to hear about your favorite dressings to shake up at home!

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