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  (the recipe is one of my staples featured here and also in my Wellness Mama Cookbook). 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.

Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe



A better-for-you version of Italian dressing without the highly processed vegetable oils!


  • 3 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 1 small squirt of Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp each of thyme, basil, and oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp of each)


  1. Measure all ingredients into a small mason jar or glass container, close lid tightly, and shake vigorously. Serve immediately.
  2. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.


TIP: Use as a marinade on meats and roasted veggies for extra flavor!Will store in the fridge for up to 1 week but I recommend making a small batch each time it is needed for best flavor.

Courses Condiment

Cuisine Italian

Like this recipe? 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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Reader Comments

  1. In your Zesty Italian dressing-Are the following fresh or dried
    Thyme, basil & oregano.

      • Hi Katie, I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I really enjoy it! My question is, do you think coconut vinegar would be a good substitute for the white wine vinegar? I have some on hand. Thank you!

        • You could try it, but I am honestly not familiar with the taste so it might be off a little. Let us know if it works!

  2. Good to know its dangers. I love Zesty Italian and did not know. Love the recipe ????

  3. The recipe is closer to a French vinaigrette than an Italian dressing. Italian dressing would usually not have Dijon mustard, and it usually has sugar and red pepper in it. Doesn’t really matter what you call it, it tastes good and that is what is important.

  4. Hi. new to your site but finding it extremely informative particularly the benefits of coconut oil. Could you/have you used coconut oil in your salad dressings? Thanx.

    • Usually not because I like my dressings to be cool and unrefined coconut oil is solid when cold. I prefer avocado oil or olive oil.

      • That makes absolute sense… Don’t know what I was thinking haha. Thank you.

        • I followed the ingredients exactly and it tasted super good! Unfortunately it solidified over night in the refrigerator 🙁 pretty frustrating!

          • I leave my small batch on the counter out of direct sunlight and it lasts for a few salads. If I make a lot and want to save it longer I try to remember to get it out of the fridge hours before needing it for my salad.

  5. What about using balsamic vinegar?

  6. Would mustard powder be okay instead of dijon mustard? if so, how much?
    And what about apple cider vinegar instead of white wine?

  7. hi! just wanted to stop by and say that i absolutely love your dressing recipe! i have featured a slight spin of it with an italian house salad on my site, thank you for inspiring! -kelly

  8. Do you have a good recipe for thousand island dressing?

  9. I wanted to tell you that I used to put Kraft Zesty Italian on asparagus and let it sit for 1/2 hour or so and then throw it directly on the grill. It will change your life it’s so good. 🙂

  10. thank you so much for all your good hard work!! could you also share your sources for all your information for the future? (i had just read your very informative article on oils and found charts for example with no sources) as much as you can? my question for this is ..since olive oil is not recommended for cooking and you say in this article to use this dressing as a marinade for cooking…is there another good oil to replace it? thanks so very much!!

  11. I make everything I can from scratch. This is now my go-to recipe for salad dressing. I had everything on hand and was able to whip this up in minutes. Best of all it was delicious! I’m glad I know exactly what was in the dressing too. Thank you for posting this 🙂

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