Making your own salad dressings is quick and easy and it's also a great way to control the ingredients and adjust flavors to your liking. This Creamy Lemon Salad Dressing is a perfect example of how easy making a homemade salad dressing can be. It only uses a few simple ingredients and is ready in minutes.
The flavor of this dressing is unbelievable and it quickly became my favorite light salad dressing. It's definitely lemony, but not overpowering. The slight hint of sweetness along with the slight tart of the yogurt comes together in this creamy dressing and it's wonderful for dressing up the most basic salad and it compliments fancier salads perfectly!
The great thing about making homemade dressing is you can control the ingredients you use and you can make as little or as much as you need without worrying about all the preservatives in bottled salad dressings. This lemon salad dressing is creamy without being heavy and is perfect for dressing your green salads or for using as a dipping sauce for fresh veggies or fruit. It would also be amazing to use as an alternative to mayonnaise when making chicken salad. Whip some up and you'll see what I mean, it's simple the perfect balance of flavors for your favorite salad!
More Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes
Here are a few more salad dressings that are easy to make at home and absolutely delicious.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have kept it 3-4 days without any issues. If you notice it separating as it sits, just give it a good shake or pulse blend it in your blender. Make sure to store it in airtight container. A mason jar works great for storing salad dressings.
Absolutely! You can make as little or as much as you want by adjusting the ingredients accordingly. I recommend, especially when doubling or tripling the recipe, to only add half of the oil at a time so you get just the balance of oil to acid that you like. There is nothing worse than an oily tasting salad dressing and that is prevented by the right ratio of fat, acid, and oil.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This is the base of the salad dressing and I really recommend using a thick Greek Yogurt for the best results. I make my own homemade yogurt that I strain for a long time so it is as thick as sour cream. I also use unsweetened yogurt, so if yours is store-bought and contains sweeteners do not add the sugar until you taste it.
Sour Cream or Mayonnaise can be substituted for the Greek Yogurt, but the flavor is going to be completely different. I have not tested the recipe using either of these substitutions so I have no idea how it will turn out.
Dairy Free Options
If you want to make a Vegan version of this salad dressing, you absolutely can. You can use a dairy-free yogurt or even almond milk thickened with xanthan gum or thickener of your choice. I will go over how to thicken the salad dressing in the next section.
This creamy salad dressing absolutely can be made keto by skipping the sugar or using a sugar substitute. If the Greek Yogurt has too many carbs for you, try using heavy whipping cream instead. You will want to use a whisk and not a blender so you don't end up with whipped cream! You can thicken it with xanthan gum and I go over how to do that in the next section.
Lemon is in the main flavor in this salad dressing and I recommend using a fresh lemon so you have the lemon zest as well as the fresh lemon juice. This will give the best flavor. If you only have lemon juice in a bottle, you can use it. You will need between 2-3 Tablespoons of the juice and, in my experience, bottled lemon juice can be a little stronger than freshly squeezed, so make sure you balance the punch of the lemon with the yogurt and oil or add a touch of sugar, if needed.
The lemon is the acid in this dressing, but if you find that the lemon flavor is perfect but it needs more acid, try adding a little white wine vinegar.
I used avocado oil because of it's neutral flavor. I think it's the perfect choice for this salad dressing, however, you can use extra-virgin olive oil if you prefer. I would use a light tasting oil if you can. When using olive oil, which varies so much in flavor, only add half at a time so you get the flavor balance the way you like
Salt and Sugar
Both of these ingredients are optional, but I found that the tiny bit of salt really boosted the flavors and rounded everything out. I added the sugar because I used unsweetened Greek yogurt. If you are using sweetened yogurt (store-bought is usually a little sweeter than homemade) I would skip the sugar or add to taste after the rest of the ingredients are blended. If you do need to add some sweetness and don't want to use sugar, you can use artificial sweeteners or your favorite sugar substitute. You can also use 2-3 teaspoons of honey to sweeten the dressing.
Although I did not find the creamy dressing to need any other ingredients, you may want to add some garlic powder or garlic cloves to add a punch of garlic flavor. Some people also add dijon mustard or black pepper to their lemon dressings. I think these additions would be great if you were using the dressing to make a pasta salad.
If you wanted to spice it up a bit, try adding a little black pepper or a dash of your favorite hot sauce.
You could also add some fresh herbs to the salad dressing. MInt would pair nicely with the lemon, so would a little fresh thyme.
How to Thicken Your Salad Dressing
When I used my homemade yogurt that was strained for 8 hours, I did not have to thicken the salad dressing. However, when I used yogurt that was thinner, I found the dressing to be a bit on the thin side. Do not worry if this happens to you, it's easily fixed with one magic ingredient, xanthan gum.
If you are unfamiliar with xanthan gum, it is a thickener that can be used with liquids that are heated or cold. It is flavorless, so you will never taste it. I love using it to make keto recipes instead of flour or cornstarch and it's my go-to for all recipes that won't be heated.
I use it to improve the texture of ice cream made without an ice cream maker, as well. You can find it at most grocery stores now, even Walmart is carrying it. If you don't want to use xanthan gum, then you can use your thickening agent of choice as long as it doesn't require heat to thicken the liquid.
Xanthan gum can't be added directly to the salad dressing (or any liquid) because it will clump and gel immediately. Instead, it has to be mixed with a fat or well blended with dry ingredients before mixing. The easiest way to thicken your salad dressing is to add about ½ teaspoon of oil to a small bowl and start off with ⅛ teaspoon of xanthan gum. Mix well and add it to your salad dressing. Pulse blend it in your blender or food processor. Let sit for 5 minutes or so and it's like magic!
If you still want it thicker, then repeat the process. Always remember it will continue to thicken for about 10-15 minutes after you add it, so be careful not to add too much. If, you do add too much and it's thicker than you want, thin it out with some cream or milk or even water until it's the consistency you want.
Quick Recipes Using Your Creamy Lemon Salad Dressing
There are so many different uses for this delicious salad dressing, but here are a few of my favorites. No matter what kind of salad you use it on, you will love this creamy lemon dressing recipe!
Simple Green Salad with Strawberries and Toasted Pecans: Simple mix your favorite lettuce with thinly sliced red onion, strawberries and toasted pecans together in a large bowl and add enough salad dressing to lightly coat the greens. I like to use spinach mixed with a spring mix of greens, but any lettuce will work perfectly fine. If you want to add some saltiness, use a little feta cheese or shredded parmesan.
Chicken Lettuce Wrap: Cube or shred a chicken breast, thinly slice a red onion, if desired, and place in a Romaine lettuce leaf. Top with crushed pecans and drizzle with salad dressing. My favorite way to prepare the chicken breast for things like this is to sous vide it. You won't believe how juicy and tender the chicken stays. You can opt to sear it afterwards or not. Here is my recipe: Sous Vide Chicken Breast
Fruit or Veggie Dip: Simply thicken the dressing using xanthan gum to a pudding consistency and serve it with your fresh fruit or veggie tray. You can also thicken it with whipped cream which will sweeten it up even more for serving with fruit.
How to Make Creamy Lemon Dressing
If you want to make the most delicious cold start yogurt in your Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot, you can follow this recipe ➡️➡️➡️ Homemade Yogurt in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot
Once the yogurt is made, make sure to strain it for thick Greek yogurt. This works perfectly in this recipe without the need for xanthan gum to thicken it.
You can also buy regular yogurt and strain it like I did in this recipe: How to Make Greek Yogurt the Easy Way.
Or you can buy a nice thick Greek Yogurt from the grocery store.
You will want to zest and juice one lemon for this recipe. Now, the amount of juice that each lemon gives can vary, but you will want about 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice. I found that this is the average yield from 1 lemon.
When zesting a lemon, you only want the yellow part of the lemon. This is the very top layer. Below that is the white layer called the pith. This is very bitter and not pleasant to add into foods. The best way to ensure you only get the yellow zest is to use a zester. This is like a fine grater and the one I use is from Pampered Chef. I love that it has several positions and folds for storage. I also use it for finely grating hard cheeses, like parmesan. You can find it here ➡️➡️➡️ Pampered Chef Zester.
Using a Blender to Make the Salad Dressing
This is the quickest and easiest way to make the dressing. Simply zest and juice the lemon over the cup or jar of your blender. Add in the yogurt, sugar, and salt.
Next add in half of the oil. I like to add half at a time because I don't like an oily dressing. I have had to use the 4 Tablespoons each time I've made it, but I still like to start off with half just in case the lemon isn't as tart as before.
Blend on high speed until combined. Taste and add the rest of the oil, if needed. I determine this by the lemon flavor. If it's too tart, add the rest of the oil. If it isn't, then you don't need the remaining oil.
If your dressing is too thin, follow the instructions provided in this article for thickening the lemon dressing.
Refrigerate for a few hours if you want it chilled. Serve over your favorite salad.
Making the Salad Dressing Without a Blender
Although not as quick, you can certainly make this salad dressing using a whisk or by placing all of the ingredients into a Mason jar and shaking it until combined.
The process is the same as using a blender. Place the yogurt, zest and juice of the lemon, salt, sugar, and half of the oil into a bowl or your Mason jar. Whisk or shake until combined. Taste to determine if it needs more oil and add the remaining oil if necessary.
If you need to thicken your yogurt, follow the same instructions as above except whisk or stir the xanthan gum/oil mix into the dressing until well combined.
Refrigerate for a few hours for cold dressing. Serve over your favorite salad.
Creamy Lemon Salad Dressing Recipe
- Blender optional
- 1 medium lemon zest and 3 Tablespoons of Juice
- ½ cup Greek Yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute
- ¼ teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- 2-4 Tablespoons avocado oil or oil of choice
Thickening the Dressing
- ⅕ teaspoon xanthan gum optional
- ½ teaspoon avocado oil optional
- Zest and juice the lemon into your blender cup or pitcher. You should have about 3 Tablespoons of juice. Add in the yogurt, sugar, salt and half of the oil. Blend in blender until combined. If you don't have a blender, use a bowl or Mason jar. Whisk or shake until well combined.
- Taste the dressing to determine if it needs the remaining oil. If it's too tart for you, add in the rest of the oil and pulse blend or whisk to incorporate. If it's perfect, then you ready to chill the dressing until you are ready to use it.
Thickening The Salad Dressing
- If your Greek yogurt isn't super thick, sometimes the dressing needs to be thickened. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon of avocado oil or the oil you are using in the dressing and ⅛ teaspoon of xanthan gum in a small bowl. Mix together like you would a cornstarch slurry.
- Add to the dressing and either pulse blend or whisk/stir until combined. The dressing will start to thicken immediately, but it will get thicker as it sits. Wait 10 minutes before deciding if you need to repeat this to thicken it more.
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
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Sounds delish. Where do we find xanthum Gum, Louise? Thank you.
You can find it at Walmart now, but it is also easily found in health focused stores and you can order it on Amazon.