5 tips for making salad dressings and marinades lighter


In a quest to cut calories, many of us turn to lighter salad dressings. Unfortunately, the taste of light dressings can be either too astringent (due to reduced oil) or too bland (due to added juices, water or broths). Over the years, I’ve written a lot of salad dressing recipes and I’ve discovered a few tricks for making light dressings more palatable:

1. When reducing the oil in a salad dressing, try adding an ingredient such as chutney or honey-Dijon mustard, which will add flavour and help to emulsify the other ingredients.

2. Choose strong flavoured oils such as toasted sesame, walnut or peppery extra virgin olive oil that, even when used sparingly, contribute a lot of flavour to dressings.

3. Treat yourself to premium vinegars such as aged balsamic vinegar, which is concentrated and low acid. You’ll be able to get by with less (or even no) oil if the vinegar you use isn’t too puckering.

4. Find your light dressing too tart? Add a pinch of sugar to offset the acidity of the vinegar.

5. Use yogurt or a combo of light mayo and buttermilk instead of cream or mayonnaise as a base for creamy salad dressings.

8 Responses to 5 tips for making salad dressings and marinades lighter

  1. Sonya Felix says:

    Yes, I find that most salad dressing recipes call for way too much oil. I usually make mine with rice vinegar (tart but slightly sweet) and add grainy mustard and a bit of maple syrup, salt and pepper and just a splash of oil. Depending on the salad ingredients, I may add a bit of freshly squeezed orange juice, some crushed garlic or freshly chopped herbs. Guests often comment on how great my salads are, so I guess it works!

  2. danamccauley says:

    Thanks for your tips Sonya!

  3. courtney says:

    A pinch of sugar! Brilliant. I will try this.

  4. danamccauley says:

    It really does add the ‘yin’ to the ‘yang’, if you know what I mean, Courtney.

  5. Elle says:

    Sesame oil is my best friend! And I agree, sometimes the amount of oil called for in a dressing recipe is just scary.

  6. sunshinemom says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog, Dana. Your pics and recipes are great. I dress up my salads only with salt and pepper…maybe a squeeze of lime. I prefer having mint or yogurt dips with salad sticks of fresh veggies.

  7. Jamie says:

    Dana, these are all great tips. I swear I eat salads just for the salad dressing which can be very bad for my diet. I will try some of these!

  8. […] • 5 tips for making salad dressings and marinades lighter […]

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