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Salads are a tasty and easy way to increase your daily vegetable intake—advice that almost every nutritionist recommends. There is significant scientific agreement that diets rich in leafy greens, veggies, and other plant-based foods help lower the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, systemic inflammation, and more. The Dietary Guidelines recommends 2-3 cups of vegetables per day to reap these benefits, but a 2022 study found that just 10 percent of adults meet their daily vegetable recommendations, highlighting the need for incorporating more greens into our diets—and what better way to do that than with a hearty salad?
While we all know veggies are good for us, let’s agree that what really makes a salad palatable is a delicious salad dressing. Not only does this condiment provide tons of flavor, but a healthy salad dressing also plays a pivotal role in elevating the nutritional value of your bowl of greens.
There are certain micronutrients in vegetables, such as carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin as well as vitamins A, E, and K, that are fat-soluble. So when fats—like the extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil in healthy salad dressings—are paired with vegetables, they enhance the absorption of these beneficial compounds. These healthy fats also help you feel fuller and more satisfied than if you were to eat a carb-heavy salad plain.
The healthiest salad dressing is generally one you make yourself, but if you’d rather have the convenience of a store-bought dressing, there are plenty of options to choose from. Unfortunately, many store-bought salad dressings are high in fat, sodium, and sugar. A two-tablespoon serving of some dressings can add nearly 200 calories to your salad and have 2 teaspoons of sugar, as well as about one-quarter of your daily sodium intake.
Luckily, we’re here with a guide to help you find the healthiest salad dressings on grocery shelves. Below you’ll find the nutritional guidelines we used to select the best salad dressings along with our 11 favorite picks—from balsamic to ranch to low-sugar.
How to buy healthy salad dressings:
When purchasing a bottled dressing, read the nutrition facts label and follow these guidelines: (All figures below are based on a 2-tablespoon serving):
- Calories: No more than 150 calories
- Fat: Less than 2 grams of saturated fat
- Sugar: No more than 4 grams (1 teaspoon) of added sugar
- Sodium: Up to 275 milligrams of sodium or about 10% of your daily recommended limit
- Oil: Is made with a healthy oil like extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), avocado, sunflower, or another highly unsaturated fat-rich oil
- Opt for vinaigrettes: Vinaigrettes tend to be lower in calories, fat, and sodium compared to creamy ranch, Caesar, and blue cheese dressings.
The Top 11 Healthy Salad Dressing Brands
Here are 11 of my favorite salad dressings that deliver on both taste and these nutrition guidelines. Bonus points are given to dressings that are certified organic. While organic certification does not relate to nutritional quality, a more sustainable food system ultimately impacts the health of both the planet and people.
Per 2 Tbsp: 100 calories, 10 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein
This Annie’s dressing is best in class due to its moderate calorie and low saturated fat, sodium, and sugar counts. It’s made with simple ingredients, is GMO-free, and has no additives or preservatives. The balsamic vinaigrette is flavorful, balanced, and the perfect complement to a variety of salad greens and vegetables.
Per 2 Tbsp: 15 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat) 0 mg sodium, 4 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 0 g protein
While most traditional dressings have 100-150 calories per serving, this Bragg dressing provides a punch of flavor, without the calories, fat, or sodium of most other options. The vinaigrette is unique in that its main ingredients are apple cider vinegar and water. Apple cider vinegar can help temper blood sugar and help lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, as well as aid in weight management.
Per 2 Tbsp: 40 calories, 3.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 1 g protein
This lower-calorie, low-fat dressing offers the delicious flavor and creaminess of a more decadent, high-fat dressing. Bolthouse uses low-fat yogurt and buttermilk to create this slimmed-down dressing that keeps fat, saturated fat, and calories in check. The sodium count is also significantly lower than many other low-fat bottled dressings.
Per 2 Tbsp: 50 calories, 4 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 5 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein
Thanks to the apple cider vinegar, organic sunflower oil, and myriad herbs and spices, this dressing delivers on taste, without having unnecessary sodium that is commonly found in other flavorful dressings.
Per 2 Tbsp: 60 calories, 7 g fat (0 g saturated fat) 240 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein
If you want a dressing with no added sugar or carbs, this robust dressing will make any salad pop with flavor. It’s made with healthy EVOO and more than a dozen herbs and spices, so you’ll get plenty of flavor, without any sugar to weigh you down.
Per 2 Tbsp: 100 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat) 150 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 1 g protein
Most creamy Caesar dressings are loaded with saturated fat and sodium. When you need a classic-style Caesar dressing, this dressing won’t disappoint. The fat counts are high, but not to worry, as this dressing is made with canola oil which is naturally low in saturated fat. It has the right amount of delicious parmesan flavor with a kick of black pepper for perfection.
Per 2 Tbsp: 90 calories, 9 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein
A classic Italian dressing is a must-have in every healthy kitchen due to its versatility; however some bottled varieties have tons of sodium and lots of added sugar. Not with Annie’s, though. Enjoy this dressing as a salad topper or marinade for your poultry or seafood. Annie’s Tuscany Italian keeps calories, fat, and sodium in check while providing a perky pick-me-up to your veggies.
Per 2 Tbsp: 120 calories, 12 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat) 180 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein
According to some, Green Goddess dressing was developed in the 1920s when the chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco created a verdant-hued dressing with scallions, parsley, tarragon, chives, mayonnaise, and vinegar. This version from Primal Kitchen is made with flavorful and healthful avocado oil to keep saturated fat down. It’s also loaded with tarragon, chives, and parsley to provide its brilliant hue and health benefits.
Per 2 Tbsp: 130 calories, 13 g fat (1 g saturated fat) 270 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein
As a creamy condiment, ranch dressing can perk up salads and many other savory favorites. Drew’s Organics offers a healthier twist on a classic ranch dressing. It’s low in saturated fat, because it’s made with high oleic sunflower oil, and has just one gram of sugar. It is a perfect companion to a veggie crudités, veggie sandwich, or roasted vegetables.
Per 2 Tbsp: 60 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat) 210 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein
This tangy dressing will provide a fresh zing to any salad with a lower calorie, fat, and sodium count compared to many of its balsamic vinaigrette peers. G. Hughes’ dressings use a blend of healthier vegetable oils, including olive oil. It also keeps sodium in check and has no added sugar.
Per 2 Tbsp: 60 calories, 5 g fat (.5g saturated fat) 160 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 0 g protein
California Olive Ranch makes wonderful extra virgin olive oil, so you can rest assured that their dressings are created with their high-quality EVOO as a main ingredient. This dressing keeps calories and fat lower than higher-fat dressings by combining it with apple cider vinegar. It gives a delicious tangy twist to your salad bowl.
A version of this story was originally published in March 2023. It has been updated to include new information.