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Simple Salad Dressing with Lemon and Garlic

Updated on March 14, 2012

There's Nothing Quite Like Home

For the most part, I am not a fan of bottled salad dressing. I never have been. The creamy kinds are ok: bleu cheese, ranch. But I would rather eat my salad dry that to ruin it with most bottled variations on Italian Dressing. Perhaps that is because I have always made my own. Not only does homemade dressing taste better, but it is lower in salt and free of sugar, flavorings, preservatives, and other additives. This is a huge plus for someone like me with food allergies and sensitivities. Have you read the labels on some of these?!

This is a recipe for salad dressing that I learned from my mom. It has a few simple ingredients that anyone can keep on hand in the kitchen. I have also included a few variations on the recipe. You can mix this separately in a small bowl, but I always put the ingredients directly on my veggies. No dressing options at this dinner table, it's unnecessary!


  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lemon
  • Garlic
  • Salt


Yes. You read that list correctly. No. I did not leave anything out. Olive oil, lemon, garlic, salt. That's it.

Assembly is pretty much a no brainer. Add a few tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. A good swirl should be enough for a large salad. Squeeze in juice from half a lemon. Add one clove of Garlic (crushed and chopped finely). Add salt (to taste). Then give it a good mix. The best way to mix is with your hands. I am not a fan of olive oil covered hands though, so i generally use a large spoon. That's all folks!

After everything is mixed, give it a taste. You can always add a little more of something if you want to adjust the flavor. Be conservative. You can always add a little more of something, but you can't take it back out if you put too much! I have tried eliminating the salt in an effort to be more health conscious, but it was a failure. It really does bring the flavors together.


Now that you know the basics you can experiment with some variations. These are a few of my favorites.

  • Reduce the amount of lemon and add some red wine vinegar
  • Use balsamic vinegar and just a good squeeze of lemon
  • Add fresh basil

You can experiment with ingredients of your own once you get a feel for the flavors you like. Have some fun with it. I was cooking with my five year old cousin and was letting her pick the ingredients for the dressing. She went with the balsamic and lemon combo. We tasted the salad and she didn't quite like it. I was about to add lemon when she stopped me and said: No! Add that. It was the balsamic. And she was right! So if a five year old can make a great dressing, so can you!

Serving Suggestions

I am a minimalist. My favorite dressing-salad combo is the basic lemon and garlic over romaine lettuce. That's it. A close second is the red wine vinegar and lemon over fresh cucumbers and tomatoes (no lettuce). These salads go great with crusty Italian bread. Even when I was a little kid, my favorite part was always the little bits of lettuce and garlic at the bottom of the bowl, in a pool of dressing. Perfect for dunking bread!


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    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      B. Leekley - woth the fresh lemon juice and garlic, you would need to refrigerate. Though I have made in it batches and kept it in the fridge.... a dressing of olive oil, vinegar, and spices might be ok in a cuppoard. I am curous now to see if I can find a good recipe like that. I like the idea of having homemade dressing premade and on hand. If I find something I like I will perfect it and post it. Thanks fo rthe votes and share, and for the idea!

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      That dressing sounds very good and like something even I can prepare. I'm going to make it today or soon. Up, Useful, Interesting, and shared with followers and on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

      Years ago I chanced upon a recipe online that some restaurant's secret recipe for their house dressing, revealed by an employee. The basic ingredient was olive oil. It was made by the gallon, and it lasted indefinitely with no refrigeration. I never got around to making a batch, and I lost the computer text file where I had saved the recipe. I imagine that your recipe, with the lemon juice, does need refrigeration. I have a fridge but just like the idea of a homemade salad dressing that can be kept by the gallon in a cupboard.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Deborah - I haven't bought salad dressing in I dont know many years unless it was to use as a marinade. Homemade things are so much better!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      This sounds simple and lovely. I never buy salad dressing any more.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Finnaly! A comment! YAY! (i am such a dork). This dressing is really good on spinach salad. I am off to the store to get items for a friend's party. I have added spinach to the list :)

      Thanks for the read, and the comment, Julie :)

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Sometimes a simple salad dressing is preferable to a creamy one and I like the style of this one. Nicely done; I am delighted to be your first commentator.