5 Salad Dressing Recipes ≤ 5 ingredients

perfect salad
I’ve traveled a lot, in many situations where access to a blender was nil. Whether it was a motel room with a mini fridge, or a hospedaje with bars on the widows; a hostel dorm with a shared kitchen, a tent, or my car, I’ve managed to make every salad dressing on this list with as little as a pocket knife and a mason jar. That’s not to say they’re simplistic. These recipes can transform something as basic as shredded cabbage into a flavorful and satisfying meal.

*Things to consider:

Vegan miso paste can be impossible to find in a store that lacks a natural foods section. It can also be very expensive. A tub of miso might last in the fridge for ages, but typically runs between $7 and $12 for a 12oz container. I’ve accomplished preparing most of the following salad dressing recipes using soy sauce instead of miso, and it made a decent substitution. FYI, you can sub soy sauce or tamari for other expensive or hard-to-find ingredients in raw vegan recipes, or any other recipe that calls for miso, Bragg amino acids, or coconut aminos.

The point of using Bragg’s is to reduce salt content without compromising flavor. Low sodium soy sauce is widely available at most grocery stores. Another way to reduce salt content without compromising flavor is to cut the required amount by half and add extra lemon juice or vinegar to taste. I’ve also found that cumin, when added to any salad dressing, soup, or sauce, eliminates the need for up to 3/4 the amount of salt called for in most recipes. Spike® salt-free seasoning can eliminate the need for salt entirely. Ironically, sweet things will function as a salt enhancer. Example: low-sodium versions of sauces, salad dressings, and condiments on the market often contain sugar, when the traditional recipe does not. And it works. Instead of adding sugar, add sprinkles of stevia to taste. Start with one sprinkle, stir, taste, repeat if necessary.

One of my favorite things to use in place of salt is dulse seaweed. You can find it in bulk at most natural foods co-ops, where it tends to be less expensive than at Whole Foods. For dressings, sauces, and blended soups, toss a piece in the blender or food processor. If you don’t have a blender or food processor, or prefer not to use one, look for dulse flakes (typically sold in jars, in the natural foods or Asian foods section at grocery stores).

1. Miso Tahini Dressing


1/4 cup tahini
1 Tbsp vegan miso
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
freshly cracked black pepper


In a jar, combine the tahini, miso, lemon juice, and minced garlic. Stir to mix until the ingredients form a smooth paste. Add 1/4 cup water, cover tightly, and shake until smooth. It may need more than 1/4 cup. Add pepper to taste and more water to thin, if desired.

Store in the refrigerator for about a week. The dressing will thicken over time; add more water if necessary.

2. Champagne Vinaigrette


3 Tbsp Champagne vinegar
1 Tbsp agave nectar or simple syrup (see recipe, below)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste


In a jar, add the mustard and stir in the minced garlic. Add the lemon juice and agave nectar and continue to stir until thoroughly combined. Gradually stir in the Champagne vinegar until blended. Cover jar with the lid and shake before serving.

* I usually use this dressing in salads with avocado. For salads with avocado, I never use oil-based dressings. Due to the high fat content of avocado, I find it unnecessary and also unpalatable to add oil to the mix. Some of the dressings in this list contain oil i.e. the tomato-basil and the ginger-sesame, because I only use them on salads without avocado i.e. Italian-style spinach salad (in the case of the former) and Asian-style coleslaw (in the latter).

Simple Syrup

aka Poor Man’s Agave Nectar
Combine 1 packet raw sugar (the kind in the brown paper packets, next to the packets of white sugar and Splenda® at Starbucks) with 1 Tbsp boiling water. Stir until sugar is dissolved, and use in the recipe above to replace the agave nectar.

3. Ginger Sesame Dressing


1 tsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil, toasted
1/4 cup water

optional: 1 Tbsp orange juice


In a jar, add mustard and stir in the minced ginger and garlic. Add the Bragg Liquid Aminos, orange juice, rice vinegar, and sesame oil, and continue to stir until thoroughly combined. Cover jar with the lid and shake before serving.

4. Tomato Basil Dressing


1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp basil, finely chopped
1 Tbsp canola oil*
1/4 cup water
Salt, to taste


Stir or wisk to blend ingredients until smooth. Add the 1/4 cup water in 1 Tbsp increments, stirring, until desired consistency is reached. Add salt gradually to taste, if desired.

* I made this mostly in Guatemala, where extra virgin olive oil isn’t easy to acquire. I started to buy canola oil, which grew on me and I find now that if I use oil in anything I prefer the flavor of canola over olive. You can use olive oil in the above recipe if you prefer, or any other oil of your choice.

5. Diosa Verde Dressing

Eng. transl. Green Goddess Dressing

Like the popular-in-the-1970s-and-80s version, but with a south-of-the-border flair—minus the eggs and buttermilk.


1 cup very ripe avocado (soft enough to mash easily)
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 Tbsp salsa verde*
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup water


In a jar, combine the lime juice with the mashed avocado. Stir in the chili verde salsa and the cilantro. Gradually add the water, continuing to stir, until desired consistency is reached. Cover jar with lid and shake vigorously before serving.

* I use Herdez® salsa verde, which is the most commonly sold and purported to be “America’s No. 1 Selling”. I buy it because it’s delicious, and easy to find (7-11 sells it). I’ve also found it at truck stops, corner stores in the middle of nowhere, and supermercados throughout Mexico and Latin America. It’s basically everywhere, yet so healthy and preservative-free that Whole Foods sells it. Ingredients: tomatillos, chile peppers, onions, iodized salt, cilantro, and xanthan gum.

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