July 22, 2024

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Salads are a tasty and easy way to increase your daily vegetable intake—advice that almost every nutritionist recommends. There is significant scientific agreement that diets rich in leafy greens, veggies, and other plant-based foods help lower the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, systemic inflammation, and more. The Dietary Guidelines recommend 2-3 cups of vegetables per day to reap these benefits, but a 2022 study found that just 10% of adults meet their daily vegetable recommendations, highlighting the need for incorporating more greens into our diets. And what better way to do that than with a hearty salad?

Of course, we all know veggies are good for us, but we also know that what really makes a salad palatable is the salad dressing. Not only does this condiment provide tons of flavor, but opting for a healthy salad dressing also plays a pivotal role in elevating the nutritional value of your bowl of greens.

There are certain micronutrients in vegetables, such as carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin as well as vitamins A, E, and K, that are fat-soluble. So when fats—like the extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil in healthy salad dressings—are paired with vegetables, they enhance the absorption of these beneficial compounds. These healthy fats also help you feel fuller and more satisfied versus eating a carb-heavy salad plain.

The healthiest salad dressing is generally one you make yourself, but if you’d rather have the convenience of a bottled dressing, there are plenty of options. Unfortunately, many store-bought salad dressings are unhealthy and are high in fat, sodium, and sugar. A two-tablespoon serving of some dressings can add as much as two teaspoons of sugar, nearly 200 calories, and account for about one-quarter of your daily sodium intake.

Luckily, we’re here to help you find the healthiest salad dressings on grocery shelves. Below, you’ll find our nutritional guidelines to select the best salad dressings, along with our 13 favorite picks—from balsamic to ranch to low-sugar varieties.

How to choose a healthy store-bought salad dressing:

When purchasing a bottled dressing, read the nutrition facts label and follow these guidelines (all figures below are based on a 2-tablespoon serving):

  • Calories: Aim for dressings with no more than 150 calories.
  • Fat: Look for dressing brands with less than 2 grams of saturated fat if possible.
  • Sugar: No more than 4 grams (1 teaspoon) of added sugar per serving.
  • Sodium: Stay beneath 275 milligrams of sodium, or about 10% of your daily recommended limit
  • Oil: Look for brands made with healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), avocado, sunflower, or another highly unsaturated fat-rich oil.
  • Opt for vinaigrettes. Vinaigrettes tend to be lower in calories, fat, and sodium than creamy ranch, Caesar, and blue cheese dressings.

The Top 13 Healthy Salad Dressing Brands:

These are some of the best salad dressings that deliver on both taste and nutrition guidelines. Bonus points are given to dressings that are certified organic. While organic certification does not relate to nutritional quality, a more sustainable food system ultimately impacts the health of both the planet and people.

Read on to learn more about each one of our favorites, then read up on these 25 Unhealthiest Salad Dressings—Ranked by Sugar.

The Healthiest Dressing Overall: Annie’s Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette

bottle of Annie's balsamic vinaigrette
Annie’s

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 100
Fat: 10 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 60 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 0 g

Annie’s Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing is best in class due to its moderate calorie and low saturated fat, sodium, and sugar counts. It’s made with simple ingredients, is GMO-free, and has no additives or preservatives. The balsamic vinaigrette is flavorful, balanced, and the perfect complement to a variety of salad greens and vegetables.

 10 Best & Worst Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressings

Best Low-Calorie Salad Dressing: Bragg Organic Oil-Free Vinaigrette

bottle of Bragg Oil-Free Vinaigrette
Bragg

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 15
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 0 mg
Carbs: 4 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 0 g

While most traditional dressings have 100-150 calories per serving, this Bragg Oil-Free Vinaigrette provides a punch of flavor, without the calories, fat, or sodium of most other options. The vinaigrette is unique in that its main ingredients are apple cider vinegar and water. Apple cider vinegar can help temper blood sugar and help lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, and can even aid in weight management.

 The 10 Best Store-Bought Salad Dressings for Weight Loss

Best Low-Fat Dressing: Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing

bottle of Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado dressing
Bolthouse Farms

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 40
Fat: 3.5 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 160 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 1 g

This lower-calorie, low-fat dressing from Bolthouse Farms offers the delicious flavor and creaminess of a more decadent, high-fat dressing. Bolthouse uses low-fat yogurt and buttermilk to create this slimmed-down dressing that keeps fat, saturated fat, and calories in check. The sodium count is also significantly lower than many other low-fat bottled dressings.

 15 High-Protein Salad Recipes for Weight Loss

Best Low-Sodium Salad Dressing: Organicville No Added Salt Italian Vinaigrette & Marinade

bottle of Organicville Italian Dressing on a white background
Organicville

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 50
Fat: 4 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 5 mg
Carbs: 3 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 0 g

Thanks to the apple cider vinegar, organic sunflower oil, and myriad herbs and spices, this Organicville Italian Dressing delivers on taste without the unnecessary sodium that is commonly found in other flavorful dressings.

 10 Best & Worst Italian Dressing on Store Shelves

Best Low-Sugar Dressing: Whole Foods Organic Herbs De Provence Vinaigrette

bottle of Whole Foods Herbes de Provence
Whole Foods

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 60
Fat: 7 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 240 mg
Carbs: 0 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 0 g

If you want a dressing with no added sugar or carbs, the Herbes de Provence from Whole Foods will make any salad pop with flavor. It’s made with healthy EVOO and more than a dozen herbs and spices, so you’ll get plenty of flavor without any sugar to weigh you down.

 10 Best & Worst Salad Dressing Brands, According to Dietitians

Best Caesar Dressing: Annie’s Organic Caesar Salad Dressing

bottle of Annie's Caesar on a white background
Annie’s

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 100
Fat: 11 g (Saturated Fat: 1.5 g)
Sodium: 150 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 1 g

Most creamy Caesar dressings are loaded with saturated fat and sodium. When you need a classic Caesar-style dressing, this dressing from Annie’s won’t disappoint. The fat counts are high, but don’t worry; this dressing is made with canola oil, which is naturally low in saturated fat. It has the right amount of delicious parmesan flavor with a kick of black pepper for perfection.

 10 Best & Worst Caesar Salad Dressings

Best Italian Dressing: Primal Kitchen Dreamy Italian Salad Dressing

bottle of Primal Kitchen Italian dressing on a white background
Primal Kitchen

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 110
Fat: 11 g (Saturated Fat: 1.5 g)
Sodium: 220 mg
Carbs: <1 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 0 g

A classic Italian dressing is a must-have in every healthy kitchen due to its versatility; however, some bottled varieties have tons of saturated fat and added sugar. Not this variety from Primal Kitchen, though. With only 1.5 grams of saturated fat and zero grams of sugar, this is a healthy salad dressing worth buying on your next shopping trip.

 The Best Bottled Italian Dressing, Tasted & Ranked

Best Green Goddess Dressing: Primal Kitchen Green Goddess Salad Dressing & Marinade

bottle of Primal Kitchen Green Goddess dressing on a white background
Primal Kitchen

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 120
Fat: 13 g (Saturated Fat: 1.5 g)
Sodium: 230 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 0 g

Green Goddess dressing was supposedly developed in the 1920s when the chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco created a verdant-hued dressing with scallions, parsley, tarragon, chives, mayonnaise, and vinegar. This version from Primal Kitchen is made with flavorful and healthful avocado oil to keep saturated fat down. It’s also loaded with tarragon, chives, and parsley to provide its brilliant hue and health benefits.

 The #1 Unhealthiest Order at 8 Salad Chains

Best Ranch Dressing: Drew’s Organics Vegan Ranch

bottle of Drew's Vegan Ranch salad dressing
Drew’s

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 130
Fat: 13 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 270 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 0 g

As a creamy condiment, ranch dressing can perk up salads and many other savory favorites. Drew’s Organics offers a healthier twist on a classic ranch dressing. It’s low in saturated fat because it’s made with high-oleic sunflower oil and has just one gram of sugar. It is a perfect companion to veggie crudités, veggie sandwiches, or roasted vegetables.

 9 Best & Worst Ranch Dressings on Store Shelves

Best Balsamic Dressing: G. Hughes Sugar-Free Balsamic Vinaigrette

bottle of G Hughes Sugar Free Balsamic salad dressing
G Hughes

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 60
Fat: 6 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 210 mg
Carbs: 1 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 0 g

This tangy dressing will provide a fresh zing to any salad and is lower in calories, fat, and sodium than many of its balsamic vinaigrette peers. G. Hughes’ dressings use a blend of healthier vegetable oils, including olive oil. They also keep sodium in check and have no added sugar.

 The #1 Healthiest Order at 7 Popular Salad Chains

Best Vinaigrette Dressing: California Olive Ranch Garlic Apple Cider Vinaigrette

bottle of California Olive Ranch apple cider vinaigrette dressing
California Olive Ranch

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 60
Fat: 4.5 g (Saturated Fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 160 mg
Carbs: 3 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 0 g

California Olive Ranch makes wonderful extra virgin olive oil, so you can rest assured that their dressings are created with their high-quality EVOO as a main ingredient. This dressing keeps calories and fat lower than higher-fat dressings by combining it with apple cider vinegar. It gives a delicious tangy twist to your meal, and is a great healthy salad dressing that works with almost any type of salad.

 I Drank Apple Cider Vinegar for a Month—and the Results Surprised Me

Best Honey Mustard Dressing: Primal Kitchen Honey Mustard Vinaigrette & Marinade

bottle of Primal Kitchen Honey Mustard salad dressing
Primal Kitchen

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 110
Fat: 11 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 180 mg
Carbs: 3 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 0 g

Honey mustard dressings are perfect for those who love a sweet, savory, tangy combo, but these dressings can often come loaded with added sugars. However, the Primal Kitchen Honey Mustard Vinaigrette only has 2 grams of sugar per two-tablespoon serving. Another perk of this choice is the clean list of ingredients, using items like avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, stone-ground mustard, and organic honey.

 10 Unhealthiest Restaurant Salads—Ranked by Sugar Content

Best Vegan Dressing: Gotham Greens Vegan Caesar

bottle of Gotham Greens vegan caesar dressing
Gotham Greens

Nutrition (Per 2-tbsp serving):
Calories: 100
Fat: 10 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 250 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 1 g

It can be tough to find vegan salad dressings that meet your nutritional and taste requirements, but this Gotham Greens Vegan Caesar is a fan favorite and one that we can personally say is absolutely delicious. And for only 100 calories, 1 gram of saturated fat, and 1 gram of sugar, it’s a no-brainer if you need a plant-based salad topper—and even if you don’t!

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, and copy-editing.

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