on September 19, 2019
Low on carbs and big on nutrients, salads are a great meal option for keto dieters. And the best part? You can dress them up with tons of different dressings, many of which contain the perfect low carb, high fat macro profile that’s desirable on the keto diet.
Here, we’ll talk in depth about the best salad dressings for the ketogenic diet and share a few of our favorite brands to buy off the shelf. Plus, we’ll show you how to easily whip up your own keto salad dressing with ingredients you probably already have in your fridge and pantry.
We’ve talked a lot on this blog about how low carb vegetables fit into the keto diet and have covered several versatile veggie options, from the common cucumber to the exotic jicama. Combine them with leafy greens like spinach or kale and some protein like chicken, steak or salmon, and you’ve got a winning keto lunch or dinner.
But let’s be honest--no matter how many different toppings you throw into the mix, all those greens can easily get boring. Choosing the right salad dressing is key to keeping things from feeling bland. By changing up your dressings and exploring a range of different vegetables, you can easily create a different salad for every day of the week.
So let’s talk keto dressing. There are two categories of salad dressing that are best for those following a low-carb diet.
The first category is those that are are oil based, like oil and vinegar or vinaigrette. They’re made from a base of heart healthy oil like extra virgin olive oil, which contains no carbs and provides a strong serving of monounsaturated fats. Extra virgin olive oil has been linked with a wide range of health benefits, from lowered cholesterol and blood pressure to reduced inflammation in the body. Another good option is avocado oil, which is also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.
The second category of keto-friendly salad dressings are those that are fat based. Typically created with a base of mayonnaise or sour cream, this category includes many fan favorite commercial dressing flavors like ranch, blue cheese, honey mustard, thousand island and caesar. You can also use fat bases to make creative options like dressings with a base of avocado or Greek yogurt.
As you can see, the keto diet really shines when it comes to salad dressings, with no shortage of acceptable options to shake up your everyday salad routine.
One big potential pitfall when it comes to keto salad dressings that you need to beware of is sugar. Many commercially available salad dressings, even some that masquerade as “healthy,” contain more sugar than chocolate syrup.
Salad dressings served at restaurants can be particularly bad offenders. One packet of the Lite Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette from Burger King, for example, contains 11 grams of sugar and 14 grams of total carbs. The Tossed Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette from The Cheesecake Factory contains 16 grams of sugar and 29 grams of total carbs.
Always check salad dressing labels carefully for unexpected sugar and carbs. When dining out, ask for dressing on the side or opt for the kind that comes in packets so you know exactly what you’re consuming.
In the world of store bought keto dressings, these toppings get our seal of approval.
Vinaigrettes are great because they go with everything and won’t weigh your salad down, but as you can see from the examples we cited above, they can be one of the worst culprits for hidden sugar. But they don’t have to be. This Italian vinaigrette from Primal Kitchen is a perfect example of an oil-based dressing that’s light and flavorful without enough sugar to send your blood glucose soaring.
It’s made from delicious, real food ingredients like organic extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and red wine vinegar. It’s Whole30 approved and non-GMO project verified. One serving contains no sugar and less than a gram of total carbs.
Be sure to check out the other yummy dressings and marinades from this brand, too, because there are many!
Bold citrus flavors are the star of the show in this lemon garlic dressing from Chosen Foods. It’s made from naturally refined 100% pure avocado oil, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and improve heart health. It also contains lemon juice, garlic and salt.
A serving of this vibrant, tangy dressing contains no sugar and just one gram of total carbs. And it does double duty on the stove: you can use it as a marinade for deliciously juicy chicken and pork or toss it over vegetables for an aromatic stir fry.
This staple blue cheese dressing from Ken’s Steakhouse can be purchased in most major supermarkets. It’s packed with the classic tangy flavor wing lovers crave along with delicious chunks of real blue cheese.
Unlike other blue cheese dressings, which can be high in cholesterol, this one is made without egg yolk and contains no cholesterol. It’s naturally gluten free. A two tablespoon serving will set you back just one gram of carbs.
As ubiquitous as caesar salads are, it’s tough to find a store bought caesar dressing that’s not filled with artificial ingredients. This organic creamy caesar variety from Tessamae’s, however, is the exception. It’s made with only clean ingredients like organic high oleic sunflower oil and contains no fillers or preservatives.
In addition to being a delightful salad topper, this dressing works wonderfully as an alternative to mayo in tuna and chicken salad or as a standalone dip for sliced veggies. One serving contains zero grams of sugar and one gram of carbs. Since it’s free of preservatives, you’ll want to keep this bottle in the fridge even if it’s not yet opened.
Ranch might just be the most-loved condiment in America. According to reports, it’s the number one dressing shipped to American restaurants and cafeterias, and thankfully, there are plenty of versions on the table for keto dieters.
We like Mother Raw’s organic take on ranch dressing, which is made with 100% cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and free of eggs and dairy. It contains a gram of carbs per tablespoon.
Bottled keto salad dressing is convenient, but we think you can achieve even richer flavor by preparing your own. Plus, coming up with new keto friendly concoctions to suit your tastes is a whole lot of fun!
Here are three of our favorite keto dressing recipes to drizzle over your next bowl of greens.
Many store bought honey mustard dressings contain a problematic amount of sugar. Avoid the glucose overload by mixing up this homemade version, which is sweetened with keto-approved erythritol.
This recipe calls for sour cream as the base, but you can also swap in mayonnaise if you choose.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Refrigerate and enjoy for up to two weeks.
This sweet and savory dressing goes just as well with a grilled pork chop as it does tossed with a bowl of greens. It has all the rich peanut flavor you’d find at your favorite Chinese restaurant without any of the added sugar that plagues many packaged peanut dressings.
The key to making this recipe keto friendly is buying the right peanut butter. Look for all-natural peanut butter that’s free from added sugar. You can also make your own or substitute cashew butter.
Also, be sure you’re using water that’s nice and hot to aid in emulsifying the peanut butter.
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
We often talk about what a great food avocados are for keto dieters, and this recipe is yet another example of their versatility. Here, mashed avocados serve as the fat base for a creamy south-of-the-border inspired dressing.
If you prefer a thinner dressing for salads, use more water. For a thicker dressing that compliments chicken, pork, and fish, cut back on the water. You can also add a dash of cayenne pepper for some added heat, if you like.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor or simply want to minimize cleanup, you can blend the dressing by hand with a large fork.
For premium, clean label products to fuel your ketogenic lifestyle, turn to Left Coast Performance. It’s our belief that you shouldn’t have to go searching for hidden ingredients when you shop. That’s why we never use artificial flavors, colors or fillers. We also respect your wallet and deliver our products at direct-to-consumer prices with free shipping.
Browse our blog for more information on the keto diet and everything you need to start your own keto journey. Follow us on Instagram for keto recipes, ways to use our products, everyday keto lifestyle tips and more.