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Best Homemade Zesty Italian Salad Dressing Recipe

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This zesty Italian dressing recipe will become your new go-to Italian Vinaigrette. Packed with herbs, spices, and tangy vinegar, it’s the perfect complement to salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes. Low Carb, vegan and gluten-free Italian dressing and marinade!

A one-jar salad dressing made of simple, pantry ingredients; so much better than Good Seasons or any other store-bought dressing.

Jar filled with zesty Italian dressing recipe, on plate with spoon.

I enjoy giving precise details in my recipe posts to lead my readers through any questions. If you’re just here for the printable recipe, feel free to click “Jump to Recipe” right under the title of this post, and you’ll head straight there!

Why You’ll Love This Zesty Italian Salad Dressing Recipe

  • Flavorful Burst: This zesty Italian dressing recipe bursts with bold flavors that instantly elevate any dish.
  • Versatile: Use it for salads, sandwiches, pasta salad or marinades—the dressing adds a zesty kick to enhance your favorite meals.
  • Homemade Salad Dressings are the best!

Growing up, we made a fresh green salad almost every night for dinner, and homemade dressings were always on the table. My mom taught me young how to make this great recipe, a simple zesty homemade Italian dressing full of Italian flavors and much better than anything you will get from a dry mix, and it takes just minutes to make.

Simple Ingredients

  • EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil): Use high-quality extra-virgin olive oil for its rich flavor and smooth texture. Classic Italian dressing uses EVOO, but you may also use vegetable oil, or try heart-healthy avocado oil
  • Red Wine Vinegar: Red and white wine vinegar work well in this recipe. They provide a tangy and slightly fruity note to balance the flavors.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: Adds a touch of sweetness and depth. If you choose not to use it, increase the amount of red wine vinegar by 2 tablespoons.
  • Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice brightens the dressing.
  • Fresh Garlic: Minced or pressed garlic brings an aromatic taste to the dressing. You may certainly use garlic powder instead, about ½-1 teaspoon.
  • Herbs: For the best Italian dressing, use dried basil or dried oregano, usually in every spice cabinet. If you have fresh herbs, follow my substitutions chart for replacing. 
  • Dijon Mustard: Adds a subtle tang and creamy texture to the dressing. It helps emulsify the ingredients and provides a hint of spiciness.
  • Salt & Pepper: Kosher salt enhances the flavors and helps balance the overall taste of the dressing and freshly ground black pepper. 
Labeled ingredients for zesty Italian dressing recipe.
Garlic press.

Favorite Garlic Press

  • No mincing
  • Easy to wash
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Multiple cloves
  • Place in unpeeled
  • Press Garlic, Ginger and spices too!

How to Make an Easy Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe

Place all ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake until combined. If preferred, emulsify using an immersion or regular blender and pulse to combine. 

That’s it! How easy is that? A perfect homemade zesty Italian dressing using basic ingredients. 

This dressing is safe to store on the counter for a couple hours before using; longer storage requires refrigeration.

Ingredients placed in jar for Italian vinaigrette recipe.

Pro Tip

Using high-grade olive oil (with a higher concentration of monounsaturated fats) causes the olive oil to solidify when refrigerated. Remove your Italian vinaigrette from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving, or run it under warm water and shake until combined. 

Fresh homemade dressings are the best! Be sure to try my Homemade Buttermilk Ranch dressing, this Green Goddess dressing (a copycat recipe) and one of my favorites, Homemade Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing Recipe.

Is Italian dressing low carb?

Sure is, especially this homemade version, since we don’t use any sugar or sweetener! Only 2 carbs per serving.

Is Italian dressing gluten free?

YES! Naturally, without any changes either, a delicious option for your gluten-free family and friends.

Spoon drizzling zesty Italian dressing onto chopped salad.

Variations & Substitutions

  • Replace the basil and oregano with equal amounts of Italian seasoning instead. 
  • Play around with the spice mixtures; use a little garlic salt, onion powder, and a pinch of red pepper flakes; you get the idea!
  • Add a few tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for a vegan Italian dressing recipe.
  • As a personal preference, add your own twist; use a touch of celery salt, maybe some fresh parsley or a teaspoon of honey, sugar or maple syrup.

Vegan Italian dressing recipe

No changes are necessary; this recipe does not use cheese and is naturally vegan. Many vegan recipes include nutritional yeast, adding a little cheesy flavor. Double-check your Dijon mustard too, I use Trader Joe’s Dijon which is vegan.

Italian vinaigrette in a jar with a chopped salad, great as a marinade, dressing, and more.
Italian chopped salad – mmmmm good!

10 Best Ways to use Italian Vinaigrette

This is my favorite part; use this a versatile dressing and marinade in so many different ways:

  1. Salad Dressing: Toss your favorite greens, such as mixed lettuce, romaine, iceberg, spinach, or arugula, for a flavorful and refreshing salad. Add toppings like tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese for extra texture and taste. Try it on my Italian Chopped Salad.
  2. Marinade: Use the zesty Italian dressing recipe as a marinade for chicken breasts, fish, pork chops, beef, or vegetables. Let the protein or vegetables soak in marinade 4 hours to overnight. Grill, bake or sauté them for a delicious and infused flavor. You’ll like my Olive Garden Crock Pot Chicken.
  3. Sandwich Spread: Pour the zesty Italian dressing onto your sandwiches, wraps, or paninis. We always pour this on our Italian sub sandwiches!
  4. Pasta Salad: Mix cooked pasta with a generous amount of zesty Italian dressing for a vibrant and flavorful pasta salad; try it on this Italian antipasto pasta salad.
  5. Roasted Vegetables: Coat bell peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, and other veggies with zesty Italian dressing before roasting for enhanced flavors and a delicious caramelized glaze.
  6. Grilled Vegetables: Brush zesty Italian dressing onto eggplant, asparagus, mushrooms, and more before grilling for tangy, savory, and moist vegetables.
  7. Grain Bowls: Drizzle zesty Italian dressing over grain bowls (quinoa, couscous, etc.) for added flavor and moisture, then top with grilled vegetables, protein, and fresh herbs for a wholesome meal.
  8. Bruschetta: Use the zesty Italian dressing as a topping for bruschetta.
  9. Coleslaw: The dressing provides a refreshing and flavorful alternative to traditional coleslaw dressings.
  10. Pizza: Brush the Italian vinaigrette onto pizza dough before grilling or baking it. The dressing adds flavor and helps create a crispy and flavorful crust.

Fresh Tips

  • Let the dressing sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes after being in the fridge or run the container under warm water to liquefy the oil before using. Shake and serve!
Jar of zesty Italian dressing with plate of chopped salad.

Storage Tips

  • Refrigerate: Store the zesty Italian salad dressing in an airtight container or jar and keep it refrigerated for up to one week or longer, though the flavors might deteriorate over time. 
  • Shake before use: Give the dressing a good shake or stir to recombine any separated ingredients and distribute the flavors evenly.
  • Olive oil-based dressings may solidify in the refrigerator due to the cold temperature. Allow the dressing sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes or run the container under warm water to liquefy the oil before using.
  • Make a large batch of dressing, and consider portioning it into smaller containers. This way, you can take out and use only what you need, keeping the remaining dressing sealed and fresh in the refrigerator.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Italian dressing and zesty Italian dressing?

The main difference between Italian and zesty Italian is that zesty Italian dressing has a bolder and more pronounced flavor with added spices and tanginess compared to the milder taste of traditional Italian dressing.

Can I use a different type of vinegar in the dressing?

Yes, you can experiment with different types of vinegar to personalize the flavor of the dressing. While the recipe calls for red or white wine vinegar, you can also try alternatives like apple cider or champagne vinegar. Each type will add its unique taste and character to the dressing.

Does Italian dressing go bad?

Technically, yes, if not stored properly. Keep at 68° F or lower for longer storage. As with all foods, give it a sniff and a quick taste, if there is mold, off smell or taste, pitch it.

How long does Italian dressing last in the fridge?

Most will tell you one week, but I’ve had it last much longer when stored in an airtight container. The flavors might deteriorate a bit, but it’s still safe to consume unless the oil turns rancid.

Pouring bottle of Italian Dressing over chicken (fresh or frozen) for Olive Garden Crock Pot Chicken.
Make zesty Olive Garden Crock Pot Chicken

Best Fresh Recipes to Serve with Italian Vinaigrette

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Italian is your thing here! So let’s dive into a flavor bonanza shall we! Try my Grandpa Frank’s Italian Spaghetti Sauce, or this simple Marinara sauce or this Penna alla Vodka (30-minute meal). Or these winners below:

Hand dipping slice of stromboli into marinara dipping sauce.

Easy Homemade Authentic Italian Stromboli Recipe

A fun and easy authentic Italian Stromboli recipe! This recipe has yummy ingredients like thinly sliced salami, pepperoni, capicola, and a blend of Italian cheeses. It's a family favorite and will remind you of your favorite local pizzeria.

Stuffed shells on plate, drizzled with Alfredo sauce and some crunch breadcrumbs.

Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells Recipe (Olive Garden)

Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells Recipe are filled with Italian cheeses, in marinara sauce and topped with Alfredo and crunchy breadcrumbs! A copycat Olive Garden stuffed shells recipe.

More Sensational Salad Recipes

Because you can never have too many salad recipes! Try this Steakhouse Wedge Salad (with Romaine) or this amazing Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey Lime Dressing and a few of my favorites below:

Chicken bacon ranch pasta salad in bowl with wooden spoon.

Best Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad Recipe

This Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad recipe is loaded with chicken, bacon, vegetables, ranch dressing, and perfectly cooked farfalle pasta.

Panera Cobb Salad with Green Goddess Dressing.

Green Goddess Salad with Chicken (Panera Copycat)

Copycat Panera Green Goddess Cobb salad recipe! This Panera Cobb salad is packed with fresh veggies, tender chicken, and a creamy basil dressing, a healthy and delicious option for lunch or dinner.

Italian chopped salad recipe in large bowl with serving utensils.

Best Easy Italian Chopped Salad Recipe

Loaded Italian chopped salad with fresh veggies, salami, provolone, kalamata olives, and homemade Italian vinaigrette. A light and delicious meal that will make you love salads!

Forkful of zesty Italian salad with dressing, ingredients and dressing in jar for pinning.

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A jar filled with homemade zesty Italian dressing recipe with spoon.

Best Homemade Zesty Italian Salad Dressing Recipe

Author: Kathleen Pope
5 from 7 votes
This zesty Italian dressing recipe will become your new go-to Italian Vinaigrette. Low-Carb, gluten-free, and vegan and packed with herbs, spices, and tangy vinegar. Use as a dressing, marinade, grilling, pasta, sandwiches, etc.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6 -8 servings (makes about 13 tablespoons)
Calories 92 kcal


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar, or increase red wine vinegar by 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 large lemon, squeezed, about 2 tablespoons
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced fine
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1-1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼-½ teaspoon black pepper


  • Place all ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake until combined.
  • Or, if a smoother dressing is preferred, emulsify by using an immersion blender or processing for a few quick pulses in a blender.

✱ Kathleen’s Tips

    • Replace the basil and oregano with Italian seasoning instead.
    • Play around with the spice mixtures; use a little garlic salt, onion powder, and a pinch of red pepper flakes; you get the idea!
    • Add a few tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese.
    • As a personal preference, add your own twist; use a touch of celery salt, maybe some fresh parsley or a teaspoon of honey.
Storage Tips
Store in an airtight jar or container in the fridge and lasts 1 week, possibly longer. 
PRO TIP | Remove from fridge 30 minutes before serving to allow olive oil to become a liquid again or run under warm water, and shake to mix. 
Adjust servings easily using the recipe card’s servings adjuster. It can be used for salads, marinades, and many other purposes, see post for ideas.


Serving: 2 tablespoons Calories: 92 kcal Carbohydrates: 2 g Protein: 0.4 g Fat: 9 g Saturated Fat: 1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g Monounsaturated Fat: 7 g Sodium: 611 mg Potassium: 39 mg Fiber: 1 g Sugar: 1 g Vitamin A: 11 IU Vitamin C: 5 mg Calcium: 18 mg Iron: 1 mg

Nutrition Disclaimer

The Fresh Cooky is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Kathleen Pope, The Fresh Cooky.

About Kathleen Pope

Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer

Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.

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  1. 5 stars
    I very rarely use store bought salad dressings anymore because it is healthier to make them at home. This recipe is fantastic. Using two different types of vinegar provides a unique flavor, and the mustard gives the dressing a bit of tanginess.

  2. 5 stars
    Salad is a staple, especially in the summer, for me. I’m looking forward to trying this one and also using it as a marinade and over grilled veggies. Yum!