This quick and easy vegan Italian salad dressing recipe is a tangy and versatile homemade replacement for store-bought options. It’s free from dairy, gluten, grains, nuts and soy, making it easy to serve to a wide variety of people!
Use this as a salad dressing, for pasta (hot or cold), over rice or roast veggies with it. There’s plenty of ways to use this tasty recipe that’s ready in 10 minutes!
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Is Italian Dressing Vegan or Dairy Free?
This recipe is intended to replicate “zesty Italian” salad dressings that are widely available at North American grocery stores. Many of these store-bought options are accidentally vegan, however some include eggs (if mayonnaise-based) or dairy (with cheese, often Parmesan). It varies by brand so always read labels!
There’s certainly nothing wrong with using store-bought options; I keep a few on hand for when I don’t feel like making a homemade batch. However, I often make my own salad dressing because it’s quick, easy and customizable to my taste preferences!
Is Italian Dressing Gluten Free?
Many store-bought salad dressings are gluten free, but it depends on the brand. It’s always best to check the label.
If cross-contamination issues are a concern, it may be easier to control the ingredients used by making Italian dressing at home!
Homemade Vegan Italian Dressing Ingredients
This recipe uses simple ingredients that are likely already in your vegan kitchen!
- Olive oil: One of the base ingredients for this dressing is olive oil which provides a rich flavor and makes for satiating dressings.
- Red wine vinegar: This recipe is intended to replicate a “zesty” Italian dressing and to get that tang, red wine vinegar is a great choice! You can use white wine vinegar if you prefer or if that’s what you have on hand.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is a must for robust flavor and some kick in this zesty dressing. If more convenient, use ½ teaspoon of garlic powder instead.
- Onion: Along with the garlic, onion is a delicious ingredient that packs in flavor to this Italian dressing. If needed, or to save time, use ½ teaspoon of onion powder instead.
- Oregano: Herbs are always a great choice to add flavor and oregano is a tasty choice that brings an “Italian” flavor.
- Lemon juice: For a fresh, citrusy zing, lemon juice rounds out the flavor of this dressing.
- Salt and pepper: Boost flavors with salt and pepper!
- Sugar: Some sugar helps balance the sour flavors of vinegar and lemon juice. Store-bought salad dressings (which we’re trying to replicate) often contain quite a bit of sugar so this ingredient truly helps achieve that flavor. I use regular, granulated sugar, but cane sugar also works.
- Nutritional yeast: Many Italian dressings include some type of cheese and nutritional yeast is essentially the vegan version of that. It offers delicious flavor and makes the dressing taste “creamier”.
How to Make Dairy Free Italian Dressing
This recipe is incredibly easy and super quick to make! Just grab a jar with a lid, or small mixing bowl with a whisk and you’ll be serving your dressing within minutes.
Step 1: Mince Garlic and Onion
To begin, peel then mince the garlic and onion. Take your time to get a finely minced texture for both; this helps distribute these tasty ingredients well throughout the dressing.
Step 2: Whisk Dressing and Serve
Once the garlic and onion are minced, add them to your jar or small mixing bowl then add the remaining ingredients.
If using a jar, secure its lid and shake vigorously until everything is combined. If using a mixing bowl, whisk the ingredients (with a whisk or a fork).
Your dressing is now ready to serve!
How to Serve as a Balanced Vegan Meal
This vegan Italian dressing is incredibly versatile. You can easily use it for a garden salad with a base of leafy greens and any additional veggies or salad add-ins you like! Toss in some chickpeas for protein and croutons (or a side of baguette) for a more well-rounded meal.
It also tastes amazing as the dressing for a cold pasta salad or hot pasta dinner. Why not use it to flavor some rice or other grain?! Along with some roasted veggies and chickpeas, you’ll have a balanced meal.
I’ve also used this dressing to roast veggies in. Chop your vegetables, toss with dressing and roast! The result is some truly amazing, flavorful roasted veggies – the perfect side dish.
To create a balanced meal, you’ll want a source of plant-based protein, carbohydrates, veggies and healthy fats. This dressing provides healthy fats and loads of flavor to any meal you like!
How to Store Leftover Dressing
I always make salad dressing in a mason jar. This way, I just pop the lid on to refrigerate leftovers without using any extra dishes. If you didn’t use a jar, pour extra dressing into an airtight container before refrigerating.
It’ll last in the fridge for up to a week. You can easily make a double or triple batch if you want extra!
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Vegan Italian Dressing
- Jar with lid (or bowl with whisk)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon garlic , minced (about 2 small cloves)
- 1 tablespoon onion , minced
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon dry oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Step 1: Mince Garlic and Onion
- Peel and mince some garlic. Add to a jar with lid or small mixing bowl.1 teaspoon garlic
- Peel and mince some onion; any type of onion works (I typically use red onion). Add minced onion to the jar or mixing bowl.1 tablespoon onion
Step 2: Whisk Dressing and Serve
- Add remaining ingredients to your jar or mixing bowl.¼ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast, ½ teaspoon dry oregano, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Place lid on jar and shake vigorously to combine salad dressing ingredients (or whisk together in mixing bowl).
- Serve over a bed of salad greens, use for pasta salad or roast veggies in the dressing!
More Vegan Dip and Sauce Recipes
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.
This is SO good!!! I'm glad I found your recipe. 🙂
That's great to hear, glad you enjoyed!
Utterly delicious dressing for not only Italian Salad, but fantastic on Pasta Salad as well.
I also want to comment on the brilliance of your step-by-step instructions, adding the amounts under each step of the recipe. Brava!
Hi Shelly! Thanks so much and happy you enjoyed the recipe 🙂
Could I use onion powder instead of chopped onion?
Yes it should definitely work! 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp would be good.