My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing

A New Master Recipe

The one salad dressing I make week-in and week-out, just one "recipe" but never the same twice. That's because it's a Master Recipe that invites creative adaptations to match your own family's taste and what's on hand. If you're looking for a lighter, fresher ranch-style dressing made from scratch, give this recipe a try ...

Real Food, Fresh & Flexible. Year-Round Meal Prep Staple. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Naturally Gluten Free. Vegetarian.
My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing, another Master Recipe ♥, quick, easy meal prep. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

Mother-Daughter Goals.

My friend Katie and I met up for lunch in January, it'd been a few weeks. When she walked in, my eyes went wide and I couldn't help but blurt out, "You're looking so trim!"

Katie grinned, pleased that I'd noticed. "Thanks!"

For the next couple of hours, Katie talked openly about how she, her husband and other family members are supporting one another in healthy eating/activity strategies and accountability. I was especially interested in a research program Katie and her preteen daughter have started at a local university, one geared to interrupt successive generations of obesity.

Now know this. Katie's whip smart and big fun. I have the idea that she's a special mom. And like nearly all moms, she'll do anything – anything – to do right by her kids.

How Does Cooking Fit Into Weight Loss?

My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing, another Master Recipe ♥, quick, easy meal prep. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

Katie's got skills, not just professionally and personally. She's comfortable in the kitchen. Heavens, years back, she even made homemade baby food!

But by her own admission, Katie doesn't know how to cook healthy meals. It's not her thing – no wait, that's not right, let me put it another way. Up until now, cooking healthy food hasn't been Katie's thing. But she's working on it!

How Could I Help?

As we talked, my brain started to spin with ideas. Katie is so self-motivated. She's on a roll and already feeling the difference. She's got this!

But I did wonder if I might be a resource, if Kitchen Parade recipes might buttress her resolution and family support with some extra tools.

I'm a big believer in "Just One Thing," the idea that when lives and lists are overwhelming, pick "just one thing" of import and make it happen. It works for the next five minutes, the next five days, even the next five months. If I could recommend "just one thing" that would make a difference for Katie and her family, what would it be?

My mind ticked off dishes that might fit into a working mom's life: easy, quick, do-able in the few minutes before heading off to work or just before supper, something that would encourage healthy eating. Something like How to Make Homemade Vegetable Soup? or maybe Quick 'n' Easy Raw Salad? Or even Deep Mexico: Ingredient-Driven Mexican Meal Prep?

My One Big Thing for Weight Loss: Make Salad Dressing.

My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing, another Master Recipe ♥, quick, easy meal prep. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

Katie says she and her family do like a few vegetables and they do eat salads. And she likes to play around with recipes, making them her own.

Suddenly the answer was obvious. Homemade salad dressing is a great way to start off a healthy cooking routine!

So I promised Katie I'd pull together the recipe for my signature salad dressing, the one I make over and over again, one week after the next. There are only two other meal-preps I do over and over like that, Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal and Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe.

I feel good about recommending salad dressing as Katie's "one big thing" from me. It's simple enough to fit into a busy mom's life. Since it works as both a salad dressing and ranch-style vegetable dip, it encourages healthy snacks like eating more vegetables. It's comforting and familiar, but since it's so variable, it doesn't get boring, either.

I hope you like it, my friend! And if you don't, no problem. No pressure, promise!

A Prediction.

But I'm gonna step out on a limb here and predict that My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing will turn out to be this year's addition to “Most Useful” Recipes 2002 – Present. That page lists the recipes, just one per year from my almost 17-year collection of Kitchen Parade recipes, that in my household get made over and over and over again, that is, are "most useful".

Actually my prediction rests on more trunk than limb. Because I've made this dressing soooo many times in the last three years, it's not even funny.

It's just one recipe but the variability is incredible. I don't think I've ever made the same batch twice! That's because, in addition to the base recipe below, I'm also sharing a dozen simple variations, no special grocery-store runs, just pulling odd items from my fridge. One of my dad's caretakers used to take a little taste every time she visited, wondering, What's Alanna put in there now? LOL.

But I Do Have a Confession.

My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing, another Master Recipe ♥, quick, easy meal prep. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

More LOL, that cute little Weck bottle is all show business. It's sheer prop. It's only for pretty pictures.

Because In Real Life ...

My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing, another Master Recipe ♥, quick, easy meal prep. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

Squeeze bottles! I adore squeeze bottles.

The fridge door always has one or two or five. Salad dressing. Famous Mustard Sauce (Carolina BBQ Mustard Sauce). Homemade Chocolate Sauce In-a-Flash. Simple syrup. Homemade pancake syrup. Caramel sauce.

I wish squeeze bottles were prettier, picture-worthy, table-worthy. Instead they Just.Work. Quick. Convenient. A tablespoon squeeze at a time.

You'll Love My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing If ...

My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing, another Master Recipe ♥, quick, easy meal prep. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

  • fresh herbs are your jam
  • salads are part of your everyday, every meal routine
  • find commercial salad dressings pricey, calorie-laden and, um, b-o-r-i-n-g
  • wonder why store-bought salad dressings include so many unnecessary, unpronounceable ingredients
  • your fridge always includes odds and ends you'd be happy to use or use up

  • Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!

Easy Summer Recipes ♥, a collection of easy-to-remember and memorable recipes especially for summer. Less cookin'. More livin'. It's the summer's motto!
This recipe is so quick and easy
that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes
published every summer since 2009.
Watch for new "summer easy" recipes all summer long!
With a free e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!


One recipe, never the same twice.
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time-to-table: 10 minutes
Makes about 1-1/2 cups
  • 1 medium-size clove (3g) fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 loose cup (about 15g) fresh herbs (dill, cilantro, basil, parsley, chive, etc.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika)
  • 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (105g) mayonnaise
  • Buttermilk to thin to desired consistency, start with 2 - 3 tablespoons

PROCESS GARLIC & SALT In a mini food processor, pulse the garlic and salt together until the garlic is finely minced, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice if needed.

PROCESS FRESH HERBS Add the herbs and process until fine.

CONTINUE PROCESSING Add the mustard, pimenton, sour cream and mayonnaise and process until smooth. If using as a vegetable dip, you may want to stop here.

INCORPORATE BUTTERMILK Add some buttermilk, just 2 - 3 tablespoons, to thin to the desired consistency, knowing that in the refrigerator, the mixture will thicken just a little. Do aim for something thinner than commercial salad dressing. This is full-flavored stuff, you'll use less dressing if it can lightly dress the greens or vegetables.

REFRIGERATE Transfer to a covered container (I use prosaic but super-convenient squeeze bottles.)

SOUR CREAM SUBSTITUTES The Middle-Eastern labneh works well, so does full-fat or low-fat cottage cheese. Since these are thicker than sour cream, you'll need more buttermilk to thin to the desired consistency.

MAYONNAISE SUBSTITUTES I've had zero luck with mayonnaise substitutes. Mayo has a texture, a tang, that just is special.

LOW-FAT COUNTERPARTS I do have great luck with low-fat sour cream and low-fat mayonnaise. And there's no disputing the numbers: the low-fat versions of My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing have half the calories as the full-fat versions.

BUTTERMILK SUBSTITUTES Buttermilk has such a great tang, it's wonderful in salad dressings and is my go-to dairy for smoothies to say nothing of buttermilk pancakes. It's inexpensive and keeps well in the fridge for a good couple of months. So yes, regular milk will work to thin the salad dressing but I hope you'll give buttermilk a try!

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS This is an excellent meal prep salad dressing, it keeps for about a week, often more if it's out of the fridge for only brief periods – that is, it's not left on the table during meals.

So Many Variations!

  • BACON CILANTRO – use fresh cilantro, add 1-1/2 slices crisp-cooked bacon
  • CHIPOTLE – skip the fresh herbs, add puréed chipotle in adobo sauce to taste (I usually purée the can of chipotles in adobo sauce in the mini food processor first, transfer it to a storage container where it'll keep in the fridge for months, then mix the Salad Dressing in the same food processor without washing it first)
  • FRESH TOMATO – use 1/2 cup parsley, 1 small very ripe summer tomato, 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • GREEN GODDESS – use 12g parsley, 5g basil, add 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • GREEK – 12g fresh dill, add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 ounce feta
  • KALAMATA – skip the fresh herbs, use 10 (40g) pitted kalamata olives
  • MIDDLE-EASTERN – Add 1 teaspoon dried mint to the base recipe.
  • SWEET – skip the fresh herbs, add sweet relish to taste
  • HINT of SWEET – Add a teaspoon of sugar. While the goal is always to reduce sugar, if a little sugar means we eat more vegetables, I'm all for that. Life's a balance.
  • TACO – skip the fresh herbs, use 4 tablespoons taco sauce
  • TOMATILLO – skip the fresh herbs except maybe a tablespoon or two of cilantro, use 2 small (130g) tomatillos.

  • AND YOU – what's in your fridge that's inspiring?! Share your personal combinations, Kitchen Parade readers want to know! Just leave a comment or send me a quick email via
ALANNA's TIPS This is a small batch of Salad Dressing, way too small a volume for a regular food processor. This is the mini food processor I have and love. It's about ten years old, I'll be replacing it soon because the blade is cracking. Our household of three (and now two) goes through a base recipe every week or ten days. For a larger household, double or triple the recipe and use a full-size food processor. Skip the measuring cups! If you have a kitchen scale, put the mini food processor right on top of the scale to measure the garlic, herbs, sour cream and mayonnaise. Save a spoon-washing! Do carefully measure the salt. It's easy to use too much if you just pour it into your hand, guess-timating. Processing the garlic and salt together is such a great trick, I use it for hummus, other salad dressings, etc. The salt gives the blade something to grip onto, otherwise the garlic clove just whirls around without getting chopped up. This recipe uses a lot of fresh herbs. In the winter, I use nearly a full container of those little plastic herb packages from the produce department. In the summer, I clip herbs from our herb pots. It's not too soon to plan a kitchen herb garden. Here's how I do it, Never Buy Fresh Herbs Again. For the herbs, try to use just the tender leaves, not the stems. Be sure there are no slimy areas, these definitely affect the shelf life. If you store the Salad Dressing in a squeeze bottle, you may need to clip the tip a bit for Salad Dressings with ingredients like bacon, tomatillo, sweet relish, etc.
Weight Watchers, I also looked at the nutrition calculations substituting the Freestyle Friendly 0% Greek yogurt for the sour cream. The individual figures did change but the points did not.

Per Tablespoon, assumes Full-Fat Sour Cream & Mayonnaise: 43Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 4mg Cholesterol; 47mg Sodium; 0g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 1 & SmartPoints 1 & Freestyle 1 & myWW green 1 & blue 1 & purple 1

Per Tablespoon, assumes Low-Fat Sour Cream & Mayonnaise: 24Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 2mg Cholesterol; 48mg Sodium; 1g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 1 & SmartPoints 1 & Freestyle 1 & myWW green 1 & blue 1 & purple 1
Adapted from Buttermilk Garlic Salad Dressing at A Veggie Venture.

THIS PAGE INCLUDES AFFILIATE LINKS TO AMAZON.COM Here's my promise. When I link to Amazon products, I link to kitchen tools, cookbooks, etc. that I use in my own kitchen, recommend and personally stand by. If I don't have personal experience but "think" something looks good, I'll say so. If you buy something following my Amazon links, I may receive a small commission, no extra cost to you. For more information, please see My Disclosure Promise.

More Master Recipes

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Never-the-Same-Twice Vegetable Frittata Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf How to Make Homemade Vegetable Soup
Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole Stir-Fried Shrimp with Asparagus Master Recipe: Rustic Fruit Ice Cream

Shop Your Pantry First

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2019 & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Thank you soooo much! And I love the article! R and I are off to a great start and she is making so many positive, healthy changes to her diet, I am blown away. S, my mac-n-cheese, chicken nugget, McDonalds loving girl is fully embracing the household meal changes!! I never imagined it would be this much of a positive change for our family! We will chat more about all this for sure.

    1. Ah, that is so wonderful! You’re on a roll, I’m so pleased for you!

  2. Alanna, this sounds fantastic! I'm planning to go back to my salad-for-lunch routine soon - this will be a great dressing to add to the rotation.
    Regarding buttermilk - I've had good luck substituting plain yogurt (either as-is for sour cream or diluted with milk for buttermilk) - I always keep yogurt in the house.

    1. Kris ~ I just started back to salad-for-lunch last week! It makes for very productive afternoons!

      And thanks for the buttermilk idea, it’s a great one, especially for those who do keep yogurt on hand but don’t keep buttermilk.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna