But for some people, that extra work means they won’t even bother with a salad. Or, having bottled dressing always ready in the fridge encourages them to snack on raw veggies since they’ve always got something to dip in. Whatever your reason for reaching for the store-bought variety, if you’re going to do so, you’ve got to avoid the ones that totally destroy the incredible bowl of nutrient-dense veggies you’ve prepared.
First, look for short and simple ingredient lists. Dressings should be made with little more than oil, vinegar, salt, citrus, and a few other real foods you recognize. Try to avoid long lists filled with additives like artificial flavors and colors.
And when it comes to the nutrition facts, don’t worry about grams of fat. Dressings are oil-based so they’re going to be high in fat, and that’s the point—because the fat helps your body absorb the nutrients in the salad itself. You just want that fat to be the healthy kind. (Look for extra-virgin olive, avocado, sunflower, or flaxseed, ideally.) In fact, with dressings, “low-fat” is often a bad thing, because brands that cut fat generally replace it with tons of sugar and salt to make up for the flavor. Avoid dressings with added sugar and try to stay below 200g of sodium per serving.
No time to study labels at the grocery store? We did it for you—and these three companies consistently make the healthiest dressings on the shelf. So reach for these, first.
3 Healthiest Bottled Salad Dressings
Seriously, the three brothers behind Tessemae’s are more passionate about quality salad dressing than anyone else you’ll ever meet in your life. Ten years ago, they launched a line of dressings inspired by one of their mom’s beloved recipes, and now their bottles are basically the healthiest, tastiest ones you can find. All are USDA-certified organic and are made with nutritious, whole food ingredients like sunflower and olive oils, cage-free eggs, vinegars, spices, citrus, mustard, and sesame seeds. We’re big fans of the Lemon Garlic and the Avocado Ranch. Find them in the refrigerated section at Whole Foods and other grocery stores. Plus, they just launched a new shelf-stable line if you want to stock your pantry so you never run out.
You can probably tell from its name; Primal Kitchen makes salad dressing for Paleo eaters. However, they totally work for people following all kinds of healthy diets. All are made with avocado oil as the base, and then simple whole foods like apple cider vinegar, honey, and herbs are added. Some of the bottles contain “gums” like guar gum, but those are generally safe in small amounts. Primal uses many organic ingredients, but not completely, so the dressings aren’t certified.
(Photo: Primal Kitchen)
Umm…who knew Brandless also sold salad dressing? In fact, the company’s super affordable dressings, like yummy Sesame Ginger, are USDA-certified organic. They’re made primarily with soybean oil, which we’re cool with only when it’s organic (from both a nutrition and environmental perspective). And the flavors come from real foods, like, in this case, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, black pepper, and oregano.