ranch dressing with mixed salad 280113. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Bottled salad dressings may be convenient, but home-made dressings take only minutes to make and you know exactly what’s in them. Best of all, they taste great.

The job of a good dressing is to complement a salad, rather than disguise it.

Once you get the general principle down – about three parts oil to one part acid (such as lemon juice or vinegar), you can play around with variations and add ingredients such as mustard, honey or chopped fresh herbs.

The two most widely used salad dressings are mayonnaise and vinaigrette, and most other dressings are derived in some way from these two. If you use home-made mayonnaise as a basis, your dressing will taste better.


Makes 250ml. This dressing is delicious on potatoes as well as in a pasta salad.

125ml Greek yoghurt

125ml good-quality mayonnaise

10ml white wine vinegar

5ml lemon juice

5ml chopped garlic

250ml basil leaves

salt and pepper

Put all the ingredients into a blender or processor and blend until smooth.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.


Makes about 160ml. This dressing is perfect for a Thai beef salad or a similar salad using chicken or fish.

60ml fish sauce

60ml lime juice

30-40ml honey

45ml sweet chilli sauce

10ml sesame oil

1 stalk of lemongrass, finely chopped

15ml grated ginger

10ml chopped garlic

1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well to mix.


A very popular American dressing that is used not only on salads but as a dip for vegetables and chicken wings.

250ml good-quality mayonnaise

180ml buttermilk

60ml sour cream

3-5ml green onion seasoning

3ml garlic powder

3ml dried thyme

15ml snipped chives

salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to blend them until smooth. Pour into an airtight container and store in the fridge.

* Shake the buttermilk very well before pouring it to measure.


Makes about 250ml. The dressing is traditionally served over a Caesar salad but is also delicious served with fish or chicken salads.

15ml white wine vinegar

5ml chopped garlic

15ml Dijon mustard

4-6 good-quality anchovy fillets

15ml Worcestershire sauce

1 egg yolk

250ml light olive oil

lemon juice to taste

salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients up to but not including the olive oil in a food processor or blender and blend well. With the machine running slowly, pour in the oil and mix until thick. Add lemon juice and seasoning to taste. If the dressing is very thick, use a little water to thin it down to a pouring consistency. - The Star