Does fat free Italian dressing have sugar in it?

Italian dressing is a popular salad dressing that typically contains oil, vinegar, herbs, and spices. Traditional Italian dressing often contains sugar as one of the ingredients. However, fat free and low fat versions of Italian dressing have become more common as people look for ways to reduce calories and fat in their diets. This raises the question – if you choose a fat free Italian dressing, does it still contain added sugars?

Quick Answer

The quick answer is yes, most fat free Italian dressings do still contain added sugars. While removing the oil reduces the fat content, manufacturers often add sugar or other ingredients to enhance the flavor. Let’s take a more in-depth look at why sugar is added and how much is typically found in fat free Italian dressings.

Why Sugar is Added

There are a few reasons why most fat free Italian dressings contain added sugars:


Sugar enhances the sweet and tangy flavors consumers expect in Italian dressing. With the oils removed, sugar helps provide flavor balance.


Sugar helps improve the viscosity and texture of low fat dressings, creating a thicker consistency closer to full fat versions. Without added sugars, the dressing would be very thin and watery.

Shelf Stability

The sugar acts as a natural preservative, preventing spoilage and extending shelf life. This allows fat free dressings to be stored at room temperature like traditional dressings.

How Much Sugar is Typically Added

The amount of added sugars can vary by brand, but here are some general guidelines on how much sugar is often found in fat free Italian dressings:

Regular Fat Free Italian Dressing

On average, a 2 tablespoon serving contains 3-4 grams of sugar. Some popular brands, like Wishbone Fat Free Italian Dressing, contain 4 grams per serving.

Light or Reduced Sugar Fat Free Italian Dressing

These versions may have 1-2 grams of sugar per serving. For example, Walden Farms Calorie Free Fat Free Italian Dressing has less than 1 gram of sugar per serving.

Low Carb or Keto Fat Free Italian Dressing

These specialty options aim to minimize carbs and sugars. They may have 0-1 grams of sugar per serving. For instance, Brianna’s Sugar Free Italian Dressing has 0 grams of sugar.

Ingredient Lists

To know for sure how much sugar is in a particular brand’s fat free Italian dressing, check the nutrition facts panel and ingredient list. Words like “sugar” or ingredients ending in “-ose” indicate added sugars. Here are some examples of potential sugar sources:


Plain sugar is commonly added. Words like “sugar”, “sucrose”, or “evaporated cane juice” on the ingredient list indicate sugar content.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is a popular sweetener used in reduced fat dressings. Ingredients like “high fructose corn syrup” or “corn syrup solids” contain sugars.

Fruit Juice Concentrates

Juices like apple or white grape juice concentrate boost sweetness. They are essentially concentrated, natural sugars from fruits.

Artificial Sweeteners

Some brands use non-nutritive sweeteners like sucralose or aspartame to reduce calories and carbs while maintaining sweetness. These are typically listed under “artificial sweeteners” on the label.

Making Your Own Fat Free Italian Dressing

To avoid added sugars altogether, consider making homemade fat free Italian dressing. You control exactly what ingredients go into it. Here is a simple recipe to try:


  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. In a small bowl or jar, combine all ingredients.
  2. Whisk or shake vigorously until well blended.
  3. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  4. Shake before using on salads.

This easy homemade recipe skips the added sugars for a flavorful, fat free Italian dressing. Shake up a batch to keep on hand for healthy salads and veggie sides.

Nutrition Comparison

To highlight the differences in sugar content, here is a nutrition comparison of a typical commercial fat free Italian dressing vs. the homemade version:

Nutrition Facts Commercial Fat Free Italian Dressing (2 Tbsp) Homemade Fat Free Italian Dressing (2 Tbsp)
Calories 15 6
Fat 0g 0g
Carbs 4g 1g
Sugar 3g 0g
Sodium 280mg 290mg

The homemade version has zero grams of sugar compared to 3 grams in the store-bought, while keeping sodium levels similar. This demonstrates how easy it is to skip added sugars with a quick homemade fat free dressing recipe.

Tips for Choosing a Fat Free Italian Dressing

If buying a ready-made dressing, here are some tips for picking a fat free Italian dressing with less added sugars:

Check the Label

Read nutrition labels closely and look for brands with lower sugar contents. Compare similar products and choose options with the fewest grams of sugars per serving.

Look for “No Sugar Added”

Seek out products advertised as “no sugar added” or “sugar free” on the label. These indicate little to no added sugars.

Try Light or Reduced Sugar Versions

Opt for light or reduced sugar varieties that cut back on sugars while maintaining Italian dressing flavor.

Use Sparingly

Even dressings with added sugars can fit into a healthy diet when used in moderation. Limit to 2-3 tablespoons per serving of salad.

Boost Flavor Naturally

Offset reduced sugars by adding fresh herbs, garlic, lemon juice, or pepper to naturally enhance the dressing’s flavor.

The Bottom Line

Most fat free Italian dressings do contain added sugars to improve flavor, texture, and shelf stability. On average, a 2 tablespoon serving provides 3-4 grams of sugar depending on the brand. To avoid added sugars entirely, make your own homemade fat free Italian dressing with simple pantry ingredients. When buying pre-made dressings, compare nutrition labels and opt for “no sugar added” or light versions with less sugar. Use sparingly and balance with fresh, whole ingredients to limit sugar intake from salad dressings.

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