What kind of salad dressings are gluten-free?

Eating gluten-free has become increasingly popular, whether due to celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or simply as a lifestyle choice. When preparing salads, one of the easiest ways to make them gluten-free is to use gluten-free salad dressings. But with so many options on the market, it can be tricky to identify which salad dressings are guaranteed gluten-free. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the most common types of gluten-free salad dressings available.


Vinaigrettes are one of the most versatile and naturally gluten-free salad dressing options. At their most basic, vinaigrettes are composed of oil, vinegar or citrus juice, and seasonings. To make a vinaigrette gluten-free, simply use gluten-free vinegars such as wine vinegar, rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. Lemon and lime juice also make excellent citrus additions. For the oil, olive oil and avocado oil are healthy choices, as are nut oils like walnut and hazelnut. Then flavor the vinaigrette with gluten-free herbs, salt, pepper, mustard, or shallots. Whisk together the ingredients or shake them in a container to emulsify. Classic vinaigrettes like balsamic, red wine, lemon, and Dijon are almost always gluten-free.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Balsamic vinaigrette is a tangy and sweet dressing that can liven up any salad. It is naturally gluten-free if made properly. The typical recipe calls for 3 parts extra virgin olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar, along with minced garlic, Italian herbs, salt, and pepper. Make sure to use a high-quality thick balsamic vinegar and avoid any additives or thickeners, as these could contain gluten. Whisk or blend the ingredients well to emulsify.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

For a robust salad dressing, turn to red wine vinaigrette. Combine extra virgin olive oil with red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced shallots, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Just be sure to select a gluten-free red wine vinegar and mustard without wheat. The vinegar provides plenty of tangy flavor. A dash of honey can also be used to add sweetness while balancing the acidity.

Lemon Vinaigrette

Brighten up a salad with a refreshing homemade lemon vinaigrette. You’ll just need fresh lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix the ingredients together for a light and citrusy dressing. Other optional additions are honey, grated lemon zest, fresh herbs like parsley or basil, and a bit of white wine vinegar.

Oil and Vinegar

Going even simpler, you can always drizzle salads with a blend of oil and vinegar. Opt for healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, or grapeseed oil. Then add your choice of gluten-free vinegars like rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, or fruit-infused vinegar. A ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar works well. Shake them together or whisk into an emulsion. Flavor it with salt, pepper, dried herbs, and a touch of mustard if desired. Oil and vinegar is naturally gluten-free and easy to customize to your taste.

Dairy-Based Dressings

For a creamy salad dressing, many dairy-based options are naturally gluten-free if made properly. Buttermilk, sour cream, plain yogurt, and mayonnaise make great bases for gluten-free dressings. Simply combine with garlic, fresh herbs and spices, lemon juice, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add crumbled blue cheese, feta, Parmesan, or shredded cheddar for more flavor. Just confirm that any add-ins like cheese, mustard, or mayonnaise are labeled gluten-free.

Buttermilk Ranch

Buttermilk ranch dressing is a cooling complement to fresh greens and veggie salads. To keep it gluten-free, use plain, full-fat buttermilk and avoid any ranch dressing mixes, which may contain gluten. Add fresh dill, chives, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. You can also stir in mayonnaise and sour cream for a creamy consistency. For a healthier take, substitute Greek yogurt for some of the buttermilk.

Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue cheese dressing can add a sharp, savory bite to salads. Make your own gluten-free version by mixing crumbled blue cheese into mayonnaise, along with some buttermilk or plain yogurt, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and herbs. Use blue cheese that’s labeled gluten-free. The Worcestershire sauce should also be gluten-free, as some brands contain wheat. Freshly crumbled blue cheese provides more flavor than pre-crumbled.

Oil-Free Dressings

To lighten up your salad dressing, you can also make oil-free varieties that are naturally gluten-free. These often involve pureeing fruits, vegetables, and seasonings into a creamy dressing. For instance, you can blend silken tofu with lemon juice, garlic, herbs, vinegar, mustard, and nutritional yeast for a vegan Caesar dressing. Or puree avocado with Greek yogurt, lime, cilantro, and jalapeño for an avocado dressing. You can also blend raspberries, balsamic vinegar, and shallots for a sweet and tangy flavor. Get creative with your oil-free ingredients!

Green Goddess Dressing

Green goddess dressing incorporates fresh green ingredients like avocado, herbs, and spinach into a creamy, pesto-like dressing. To make it gluten-free, blend avocado, lemon juice, flat-leaf parsley, chives, garlic, anchovies, salt, and pepper in a food processor until smooth. You can also add some olive oil or yogurt to achieve the right consistency. Use any combination of fresh green herbs.

Strawberry Vinaigrette

For a fruit-based dressing, blend fresh strawberries with balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, minced shallots, salt, and pepper. You’ll get a sweet and tangy flavor without needing any oil. The honey helps emulsify and thicken the vinaigrette while also balancing the acidity from the vinegar. Feel free to swap in raspberries or mango for a tropical twist.

Bottled Salad Dressings

If you don’t have time to whip up homemade dressing, there are many brands of pre-made, gluten-free salad dressings available. Just be sure to thoroughly read the label and ingredients list, even if the product says “gluten-free” on the front. Here are some typically gluten-free bottled dressings:

  • Annie’s Naturals
  • Brianna’s Homestyle
  • Ken’s Steakhouse
  • Newman’s Own
  • Primal Kitchen
  • Tessemae’s

Again, double check the label for any mention of gluten or wheat-based ingredients. Some flavored dressings like honey mustard may contain additives that are not gluten-free. Basic vinaigrettes and oil-based dressings from these brands are generally safe.

Dressing Ingredients to Avoid

When shopping for salad dressing ingredients or making them from scratch, there are certain items to watch out for that may contain gluten. Here are some potential sources of gluten commonly found in dressings:

  • Soy sauce or teriyaki sauce – Use tamari instead which is wheat-free
  • Malt vinegar
  • Barley malt
  • Stabilizers or thickeners like wheat starch
  • Flavored salad dressing mixes
  • Croutons or breadcrumbs
  • Flour-based spices like garlic powder

Always check the label thoroughly and call or email the manufacturer if you are unsure about certain ingredients. When shopping in the gluten-free aisle, products should be clearly labeled.

Tips for Gluten-Free Salad Dressings

Follow these helpful tips for choosing and making gluten-free salad dressings:

  • Make your own vinaigrette from oil, vinegar, herbs, mustard, and seasonings
  • Look for bottles labeled “gluten-free” and check the ingredients
  • Use dairy products like yogurt, buttermilk, and mayonnaise as a base
  • Blend fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and vinegar for oil-free dressings
  • Avoid soy sauce, malt vinegar, flour-based spices, and croutons
  • Email companies if you are unsure about certain ingredients
  • Make extra dressing and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week

Gluten-Free Salad Dressing Recipes

Looking for some easy recipes to make gluten-free salad dressings at home? Here are 5 delicious options to try:

1. Greek Dressing

This Greek salad dressing features fresh oregano, lemon, and garlic:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or shake in a jar to blend. Store refrigerated.

2. Balsamic Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Sweet apple cider vinegar gives this vinaigrette plenty of fall flavor:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together vinegars, garlic, shallot, mustard, and maple syrup. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking constantly to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Avocado Lime Dressing

Creamy avocado and tangy lime make a great pairing in this easy dressing:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy. Add more olive oil to thin if needed.

4. Honey Ginger Vinaigrette

For an Asian-inspired dressing, try this honey ginger vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients until well blended. Let sit for 10 minutes for flavors to meld.

5. Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Blend up sweet strawberries into this fruity dressing:

  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add a bit of water to thin if needed.


Following a gluten-free diet opens up a world of delicious salad options when you use gluten-free dressings. Homemade oil and vinegar combinations, creamy dairy-based dressings, refreshing fruit purees, and tried-and-true bottled varieties are all easy gluten-free dressing choices. Just be sure to read labels carefully and avoid wheat-based ingredients to find or make dressings that are safe for your gluten-free needs. With so many flavors to experiment with, eating gluten-free doesn’t mean salads have to be boring.

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