Top 5 Oil-Free Salad Dressing Recipes

February 27, 2017


Bright and fresh salad dressing

I love oil-free salad dressing recipes. While some oils may be healthier than store bought commercial salad dressing, oil-free salad dressing can provide just as much flavor without all the fat.

There is no nutritional value in oils, and vegetable oils contain no fiber, no minerals and are 100% fat calories. Despite all the hype, there is evidence that even olive oil is not 100% heart healthy.

Two tablespoons of olive oil have 240 calories and are more calorie dense than even pure refined sugar.

Vegetable oils often contain massive amounts of trans fats. Trans fats are associated with many chronic diseases.

Vegetable oils can also raise your risk of cardiovascular disease because any processed oil can injure the endothelium, which is the innermost lining of the artery and the gateway to heart disease. To read more about the the paralysis of arteries from oil, please watch Dr. Michael Greger's video on Nutrition Facts.

I have told this story before, but it is worth sharing again.

In 2013 I earned my plant-based nutrition certificate, and one of my favorite lectures was run by Dr. John McDougall and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.

In that talk, Dr. Esselstyn told a story about one of his patients who had a quintuple bypass surgery.  Following his surgery, Dr. Esselstyn put him on a very strict plant-based diet. His patient immediately went from 210 to 156 pounds.

For 14 years this patient stayed on a plant-based diet and maintained his weight and health when suddenly he began to experience a recurrence of angina. Angina is a type of chest pain caused by the narrowing of heart arteries when there is a decreased blood oxygen supply.

The patient promptly contacted Dr. Esselstyn. He assured Dr. Esselstyn that he was still on his plant-based diet. Dr. Esselstyn was baffled until his patient mentioned one thing.

Here is what Dr. Esselstyn said about it:
“The patient forgot to mention that he was consuming “heart healthy” olive oil in his salads. It was what they call a Eureka moment. Immediately, I advised him to give up the olive oil. He did, and within seven weeks his angina disappeared.”

I don't have heart disease but in the past overusing oils in salads and when sautéing vegetables was a habit of mine.

Now I rely more on fresh aromatic herbs, vinegar, and citrus juices for flavor. I sauté my vegetables in veggie broth. When I do use oil, I use it sparingly.  I keep my olive oil in a small spray bottle and give my veggies a light spritz when needed.

Transform your greens and vegetables with these bright, fresh, aromatic oil-free salad dressing recipes without all the calories. (#vegan)

Oil-Free Salad Dressing – Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

After awhile you don't miss the oil. You can enhance the taste of any vinaigrette recipe by flavoring it with citrus like this Lemon Poppy Seed oil-free salad dressing flavored with lemons.

Transform your greens and vegetables with this bright, fresh, aromatic oil-free salad dressing without all the calorie dense oil. (#vegan)

Oil-Free Salad Dressing – Creamy Italian Vinaigrette

Or add a creamy texture to your salad dressing with beans, avocado or tofu instead of eggs and oil like this Creamy Italian Vinaigrette made with cannelloni beans.

Bright, fresh, aromatic oil-free salad dressing without out all the fat. (#vegan)

And when it is time to make your salad, choose fresh in-season vegetables. Also, make sure you use a salad spinner. You want your ingredients super dry, so the dressing will stick to them better.

Last but not least, get creative with your ingredients. Add grains, seeds, or roasted vegetables for some added crunch.

I also love topping my salads and soups with baked tortilla strips. Just cut the tortillas into strips and bake in the oven at 400 degrees F or until browned and crunchy. Sprinkle them with cumin, chili powder, and lime juice before baking to add another element of flavor.

Hope you enjoy all five of these oil-free salad dressing recipes as much as I did. Don't miss any of Ordinary Vegan's recipes by signing up here. Learn more about plant-based nutrition on my podcasts here on this website or iTunes.

If you like today's recipes, you may enjoy this cauliflower salad with chickpea dressing.

Wishing you a compassionate and peaceful week!

Oil-Free Lemon Poppy Seed Salad Dressing
Prep time
Total time
Transform your greens and vegetables with this bright, fresh, aromatic oil-free salad dressing without all the calorie dense oil
Serves: ¾ cup
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½-inch knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • Fresh ground black Pepper
  • 6 tablespoons water (or more if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  1. Add all the ingredients except for the poppy seeds into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Taste - adjust seasonings and add more water if too tart. Add poppy seeds.

Oil-Free Creamy Italian
Prep time
Total time
Transform your greens and vegetables with this bright, fresh, aromatic oil-free salad dressing without all the calorie dense oil
Serves: ¾ cup
  • ¾ cup cooked white beans, drained and rinsed (if using canned)
  • ¼ cup water (or more)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons shallots, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (or more to taste)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings adding a little more parsley or water if needed.

Oil-Free Hummus Salad Dressing
Prep time
Total time
Transform your greens and vegetables with this bright, fresh, aromatic oil-free salad dressing without all the calorie dense oil
Serves: ⅓ cup
  • 3 tablespoons plain hummus
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • ½ clove garlic, chopped (optional)
  • salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
  1. Whisk together. Taste and season with a little salt and ground black pepper.

Oil-Free Mustard Salad Dressing
Transform your greens and vegetables with these bright, fresh, aromatic oil-free salad dressing recipes without all the calories.
Serves: ⅓ cup
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 2½ teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the parsley into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Add the chopped parsley, Taste and adjust seasonings.
  2. Cover and refrigerate. Will keep 4-5 days refrigerated.

Oil-Free Lime Ginger Salad Dressing
Transform your greens and vegetables with these bright, fresh, aromatic oil-free salad dressing recipes without all the calories.
Serves: ⅓ cup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice wine (Mirin)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon chopped Japanese pickled ginger
  1. Whisk together



51 thoughts on “Top 5 Oil-Free Salad Dressing Recipes

  1. Thank you for posting these!! I’ve recently developed an odd smell aversion to all oils (and animal fats, and grains, so all of those are out of my diet) and though I’m not a big salad eater, I decided to test one out!

    I accidentally used Northern Beans instead of Cannelloni, but that Italian dressing is the best I’ve ever had. Thank you again!
    I can’t wait to have another salad!

  2. These all look delicious. I am a single, so need very little at a time. How long after making these will leftovers last in the frig? Can any be frozen? Thanks.

  3. Thank you so much for these will try them all. Have a new diet that requires no fat and sugar, I will substitute stevia for maple sugar. I am not fond of lemons but I guess I will become one now ha ha ha. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Carolyn – Hope you enjoy them! You could always substitute limes for lemons. Thanks for being part of our healthy community!

  4. I’m so excited to try these! I’ve recently discovered my aversion to salads is the oil! Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Is there a substitute for the Maple Syrup for diabetics. I started a plant based live food diet on March 1, 2018 and have been able to stop the insulin and I was taking 70 units a day. I have now been able to stop all oral meds for diabetes as well. These dressings will be a blessing since I’m trying SOS no Salt, Oil and Sugar.

    1. Hi Ray – How about a little stevia in place of the maple syrup? Major congratulations on your plant-based diet and for taking back your health. You should be very proud of yourself. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. Nancy

  6. Yes, thanks for this post! I have been thinking about what I need to do to extend my repertoire and this is it! Will be shopping and prepping for salad dressing this week!

    1. Hi Kellye – thanks for the feedback and for being part of our healthy community! Hope you have a wonderful day. Nancy

  7. This is so perfect! I’ve been 95% plant based for a year and a half and this year, I’ve been working towards reducing and eventually eliminating oils. Tonight I needed specifically a hummus based dressing and, voila, here it is! I’m not a balsamic fan so I used unseasoned rice vinegar instead and I didn’t have fresh ginger on hand, but I DID have an intense ginger juice (from The Ginger People) and used that as a sub. Delicious!

  8. Thank you very much for this post. Have been focused on eliminating oil from our foods and can’t wait to try these dressings!

  9. Thanks for the excellent creamy Italian dressing recipe. I found that adding a small amount of red wine vinegar adds a nice zing and makes the consistency a little less thick. Also, allowing the ingredients to mingle for a few days makes it go from great to fantastic. d

  10. Thank you so very much! I’ve just learned from Anthony William how bad fats are for our livers, which are already overtaxed trying to get rid of toxins. I love your suggestions!

  11. These are so awesome! I just made the Italian and used garbanzos (cuz I had them!) and dried Italian herbs instead of parsley (its what the pantry had to offer) and I LOVE THIS!! Thank you so much!! I cant wait to try the others!

  12. Can’t wait to try your Lemon Poppy Seed Salad dressing as I am trying to eat oil free as well as vinegar free. No Soya /Tofu products either. Will also try the Creamy Italian one later. It all looks sooo delicious. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Nancy – I hope you enjoy them and thanks for taking the time to drop me a line. I appreciate it and happy holidays!

    1. Hi Michele – I would recommend a liquid stevia. I found this in a McDougall newsletter and according to this it is compliant. “Stevia Is a Natural, Safe, and Powerful Sweetener
      There is a natural alternative for people who desire sweetness yet also choose to minimize their refined sugar intake: stevia. From the leaves of a perennial shrub found in Paraguay and Brazil comes a substance that is 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar. This stable sweetener is essentially calorie-free and non-toxic, and therefore may be the best choice if you must use a sugar substitute” I am assuming you are linking from the McDougall group. Thanks for stopping by and please come back again. Happy New Year!

  13. Thank YOU for these 5 oil free salad dressings! I am Orthodox Christian. We fast (abstain) almost half the year from meat, fish, dairy, wine and oil. These dressings without oil and dairy will allow me to eat salads with a dressing other than lemon juice and water and sugar or herbs. God Bless you for aiding us all in caring better for our bodies and in my case, following religious traditions and still being able to enjoy salad.

    1. Hi Chelle – I use Annie’s Naturals Organic Dijon Mustard – here are the ingredients -Distilled White Vinegar, Water, *Mustard Seed, Sea Salt, *Clove. – Hope that helps and thank you so much for stopping by!

  14. Hi There, I was so excited to find these oil free recipes but very disappointed at the amount of maple syrup used which makes them very unhealthy. I don’t trust stevia, it’s a highly processed product and I feel it hasn’t been around in this processed form long enough for us to know the consequences on our bodies. If sweetness has to be added, could you please suggest any fruits? Do you think it would be healthier to finely chop soft dates and cook them in a tiny amount of water until it forms a paste ? As humans we crave sweetness, it’s so annoying that the highly processed, convenient forms are so unhealthy.

    1. Hi Heather – Thanks for stopping by. Yacon syrup might work. Here is a link to one with no additives. I also love your idea of making your own date syrup for sweetness. I also believe there are some date syrup makers with clean ingredients – no additives. Hope that helps and thanks for being part of our healthy community.

  15. I can’t wait to try these dressings. Although it says serves 3/4 cups, how many servings are there in a single recipe? Thanks.

    1. Hi Angela – Hope you enjoy them. There are 12 tablespoons in 3/4 and the standard serving of salad dressing is 2 tablespoons per person, so I would say 6 servings. Hope that helps and thanks for being part of our healthy community! Nancy

  16. Hi, I am new to this site and just at the start of trying to go vegetarian before going vegan. The dressing recipes look fantastic. I may be overthinking it and confusing shelf-life with best-used-by concepts, but why is the “Oil-Free Mustard Salad Dressing” only good for 4-5 days refrigerated? Does this mean for best taste? Since there is no oil or dairy or legumes in this recipe I am wondering what would start turning after a few days, or if it would be harmful to use if it was a week or two old. Thanks for any clarification you can provide.

    1. Hi David – Thanks for stopping by and congratulations on adding more vegetarian meals to your diet. I always recommend a refrigerated shelf life of less than a week in a refrigerator mainly because I think the food can loose its flavor. But if you use a tightly sealed container you can probably extend its shelf life in the refrigerator. Hope that helps. Have a wonderful day!

  17. Thinking outside the box since I don’t have or can find Japanese pickled ginger, could I use crystalized ginger and let is cover both the ginger and avoid the maple syrup at the same time?

    1. Hi Ginny – I am not sure crystalized ginger would work because there is no pickled component just sugar. You could make your own pickled ginger by cutting up about 2 ounces of fresh ginger and putting it in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, stir to coat and let stand for 30 minutes. In a saucepan, stir together a little rice vinegar (1/4 cup) and 1 tablespoon sugar – whisk – bring to a boil and then pour the liquid over the ginger. Allow the mixture to cool and store in refrigerator. Hope that helps. Thanks for stopping by and for being part of our healthy community!

  18. Olive Oil/ALL oils, early stage weaning myself off –

    Plant Based News video interview with Doctor Klaper. Latter quoted
    Hippocrates: ‘Let food be your medicine and medicine your food.’
    In the process of giving up olive oil/ALL processed oils, therefore
    delighted to stumble upon your website and oil-free salad dressings.
    I’m grateful to you many thanks for sharing recipes.
    ME & Mornington x
    BATH, U.K.

    1. and I am grateful for you Mary-Elizabeth – Thanks for stopping by and for being part of our healthy community!

  19. Thank you very much. I have been on vegetables and green NO Meats/Oils/Butter/Dairy diet and feel so much more alive and energetic. The hardest for me was making a salad dressing without my usual ‘leading player’ ingredient in olive oils. Now, am looking forward to keeping a repertoire of your recipes like a woman keeps her ‘fashion wardrobe’ …plenty of vibrancy and varieties.

    1. Hope you enjoy them Anthony and congratulations on your new lifestyle. I know exactly what you mean. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I appreciate it! Nancy

  20. This is ana
    Answer to prayer!! I have just lapsed back into Morgellons and Lyme and found the most insightful and comprehensive download there ever has been to date. Hence…I am on the “King Diet” a d for at least the first week, I am severely restricted . No oil, among other things, except brown rice oil……which, of course, I don’t have!!!! Sugar …..absolutely!!! We’re talkin’ parasites here and sugar is their ONLY diet. Sooooo, the maple syrup concerns me. Used it and ginger….which is also a no-no for at least the first week…probably all of it.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Nancy – You can leave out the maple syrup completely or replace it with stevia or a monk fruit sweetener. Hope that helps and sending you lots of compassion.

    1. Hi Debbie – I would say 3 days just to be safe in the refrigerator. I have never tried freezing them but I would imagine they could freeze well. Thanks for stopping by and for being part of our healthy community!

  21. These recipes are a godsend! Salad dressings have been the thorn in my side – I carefully monitor the fats I consume, and there really is no room for empty calorie oils! I’m very excited to try the lemon poppy dressing.

    1. Thank you Sarah for being here and for the kind words. I am just finishing up my cookbook and there are very few recipes that include oil. Comes out in January. Nancy

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