A Comprehensive Guide to Keto-Friendly Salad Dressing

Updated Sep 17th, 2020 – Written by Craig Clarke

Greens, meat, and high-fat dressing — the quick and easy keto trinity that’ll help you meet your needs for vitamins, minerals, fiber, fat, and protein in one low-carb meal.  Finding a healthy and tasty keto salad dressing, however, can get tricky when you venture beyond olive oil and vinegar.

Most of the popular dressings will either be high in sugar or packed with inflammatory oils (and sometimes both). Even dressings that seem keto-friendly may still contain unhealthy ingredients.

To help you find the right dressing — one that not only tastes good but helps you improve your health and stay in ketosis as well — let’s take a look at keto dressing from the following perspectives:

The Three Key Characteristics of the Best Keto Salad Dressings

Three Key Characteristics of the Best Keto Salad Dressings

The best salad dressing for keto will be one that has the following components:

1. High-quality, healthy fats/oils as the primary ingredient

Cold-pressed unrefined avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, and MCT oil are going to be the best oils for keto salad dressings. At least one of these should be the first ingredient on the ingredients list.

Avocado oil and olive oil will provide you with plenty of heart-healthy MUFAs (i.e., monounsaturated fatty acids). Olive oil has a slight edge over avocado oil because it contains significantly more antioxidants that promote overall health and reduce the formation of toxic compounds during cooking and processing.

The saturated fats found in MCT oil — specifically caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), and capric acid (C10) — are readily converted into ketones and burned as fuel. This makes MCT oil a great salad dressing base for supporting increased ketone production and easing many of the symptoms you may experience as you transition into the keto lifestyle.

In general, cold-pressed oils will be healthier than refined or solvent-extracted oils. The cold-pressing process helps preserve the integrity of delicate fatty acids found in the oils, while the other methods tend to oxidize some of the fatty acids, rendering them unhealthy.

Most store-bought dressings will contain refined oils like canola and soybean oil. Since these are heavily processed, high in omega-6s, and lower in MUFAs, it is best to limit your consumption of these products for optimal health. We will discover a wide variety of healthier keto-friendly brands,  products, and recipes in sections below.

2. Minimally-processed ingredients

Check the ingredients label and make sure it is as close to nature as possible. The tastiest and healthiest dressings will have a mixture of fresh herbs, spices, lemon juice, vinegar, and/or other keto-friendly ingredients.

Watch out for added sugars, artificial preservatives, and MSG (if you are sensitive to it). Healthier dressings will rely on natural preservatives like citric acid, lemon juice, salt, vinegar, and rosemary extract rather than EDTA, BHA, or BHT.

You may also find xanthan gum or guar gum as an ingredient, which is typically used to thicken dressings and prevent ingredient separation. These gums are safe and well-tolerated for most people.

3. Minimal net carbs per serving

Even if you see high-carb ingredients on the label, this doesn’t mean you should completely avoid the dressing. It is possible to have a dressing that adds some sweetness without keeping you from the benefits of ketosis. Simply check the number of net carbs per serving to help you determine if that dressing is keto-friendly for you.

As a general rule of thumb, try to find products with one gram or less of net carbs per tablespoon. This will allow you to enjoy your favorite dressings while leaving room for keto dessert or any other foods you enjoy that come with a larger amount of net carbs.

Tips for Finding Keto Friendly Salad Dressing at a Restaurant

Since you can’t look at the ingredient label when eating out (in most cases), it is important to be aware of what are safe keto-friendly options and what to avoid.

When it comes to uncovering secretly sugary dressings, pay attention to the words used to describe them. Look out for anything that is referred to as light, lite, fat-free, or low-fat. These options tend to cut down on the fat and scale up on the carbs.

Most dressings that feature a sweet ingredient, like honey mustard or raspberry vinaigrette, typically contain added sugars along with the high-carb ingredient it features. French dressing, thousand island dressing, Catalina dressing, and pre-bottled vinaigrettes are usually high in carbs as well.

Some of the best keto-friendly options will be a standard ranch dressing, chunky bleu cheese, a house-made vinaigrette (avoid if it features a sugary ingredient), and olive oil + vinegar. Keep in mind, however, that these options might have higher carb counts and lower quality oils than expected. Try looking up the info beforehand (if they post the info online) or bring your own keto-friendly dressing if you want to be certain of what you are consuming.

Keto Salad Dressings to Buy: Best Brands, Healthiest Products, and Walmart Options

There are plenty of trustworthy salad dressing brands and popular products you can find at your local grocery store or superstore chains like Walmart or Target.

Before you add anything to your cart, however, make sure to check the nutrition facts and ingredients label to confirm that it is something you want to add to your keto lifestyle. When in doubt, try using the three keto dressing characteristics we learned about earlier to help guide your decision.

Keto Salad Dressings to Buy: Best Brands, Healthiest Products, and Walmart Options

Let’s begin our journey through keto-friendly store-bought dressings with the cheaper, easier-to-find options. The following list of dressings are likely to be found at most grocery store chains, Walmart, and Target (unless stated otherwise*).

  • Hidden Valley Ranch (1g of net carbs per tablespoon)
  • Great Value Creamy Caesar Dressing (1g of net carbs per tablespoon)*
  • Kraft Classic Caesar Dressing (1g of net carbs per tablespoon)
  • Kraft Ranch (1g of net carbs per tablespoon)
  • Kraft Creamy Italian (1g of net carbs per tablespoon)
  • Ken’s Steakhouse Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing (0.5g net carbs per tablespoon)
  • Ken’s Steakhouse Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (0.5g net carbs per tablespoon)
  • Great Value Classic Ranch Dressing & Dip (0.5g net carbs per tablespoon)*
  • Great Value Blue Cheese Dressing (0.5g net carbs per tablespoon)*
  • Great Value Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (1g of net carbs per tablespoon) *
  • Skinny Girl Dressings — this brand focuses on making sugar-free products that are very low in calories, and fat. Double-check the label to make sure the net carbs fit within your daily carb limit. Only use these dressings if you are already eating too much fat throughout the day.

*This denotes a keto dressing exclusively found at Walmart.

Keep in mind that these will not be the healthiest dressings, but they are more budget-friendly and keto-friendly.

If you’d like to buy the healthiest version of your favorite dressing, consider checking out these brands and products:

  • Primal Kitchen — This brand makes a wide range of dressings that are made with high-quality, healthy ingredients, and most of them have one gram of net carbs or less in every tablespoon. Their Honey Vinaigrette and Balsamic Vinaigrette are the only dressings with more than 1g of net carbs per tablespoon.
  • FAT & Happy Dressings — This is the only brand I’ve found that uses MCT oil as its primary ingredient, making it a dressing that reliably increases ketone levels. They make three dressings: Ranch, Italian, and Balsamic. Each one contains no more than 1 gram of net carbs per tablespoon.
  • Chosen Foods — Their Lemon Garlic Dressing (0.5 g of net carbs per tablespoon) and Orange Balsamic Dressing (1 g of net carbs per tablespoon) are both great keto options filled with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
  • Tessamae’s — Check out their keto-approved dressings, ranging from Balsamic Vinaigrette to Everything Bagel Ranch. They have a wide selection of dressings with 1 g or less of net carbs per tablespoon. Just double-check the nutrition facts before purchasing.
  • Organicville’s French Dressing — A keto-friendly french dressing with 0 g of net carbs per tablespoon.
  • Garlic Gold Meyer Lemon & Extra Virgin Olive Oil Vinaigrette — 1 g of net carbs per tablespoon with plenty of healthy fats and antioxidants from garlic-infused olive oil.
  • Stonewall Kitchen Champagne Shallot Walnut Dressing — If you’d like something out of the ordinary, try this. It features the unique combination of garlic, champagne, and walnut flavors with only one gram of net carbs per tablespoon.
  • Saucy Lips Zesty Cilantro Dressing — A great low-calorie, zero-carb option if you are already getting enough dietary fat. Use this (and any other dressing made by this brand) sparingly. The listed serving size is very low, which hides trace amounts of carbs that will add up if you consume the dressing in larger quantities.
  • Bragg Organic Vinaigrette Dressing — A super tasty and healthy source of apple cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil with 1.5 g of net carbs per tablespoon.
  • Sir Kensington’s Classic Ranch — A healthier take on classic ranch dressing that you can find in most Walmarts and health food stores. Plus, it only contains a minuscule amount of net carbs (less than 0.5 g per serving).

Though you might be able to find these at your local grocery store chain or superstores like Walmart or Target, your best bet is to order these online or check your local health food store.

If you can’t find the options listed above, make sure to stay away from reduced-fat products and sweet dressings. When you see lite, light, fat-free, low-fat, honey, maple, or a type of fruit on the label, it is probably not keto-approved.

That being said, there is an even easier (and cheaper) method to finding high-quality keto dressing: making it yourself. All you’ll need is a few simple keto-friendly ingredients, five minutes, and the tips/recipes below.

How to Make a Last-Minute Keto Dressing

How to Make a Last-Minute Keto Dressing

When you don’t have a store-bought keto dressing or the right ingredients to make one of the recipes in the next section, you can still whip up something flavorful with what you have.

Your simplest option will be oil and vinegar, with 1-1.5 tablespoons of vinegar for every 3 tablespoons olive oil, avocado oil, or MCT oil. You can even turn it into an Italian-style dressing with an Italian spice blend — or make it Greek with a Greek spice blend.

You can also turn it into a mustard vinaigrette by adding a teaspoon of dijon mustard, 1-2 pinches of garlic powder, salt, and pepper. If you’d like to cut the acidity of your dressing with some sweetness, try adding keto-friendly maple syrup or a low-carb liquid sweetener.

If your vinaigrette separates, simply give the jar a few shakes before using it. The shaking process helps emulsify the oil and liquids together again so that you can use it as a vinaigrette.

Tomato-based dressings and creamier options (like ranch or blue cheese), can also be made in a pinch. For a tomato-based dressing — such as Catalina-style, thousand island, or French dressing — simply combining keto-friendly ketchup with vinegar and oil or mayonnaise with your preference of herbs, spices, and vegetables for added flavor.

To make a thick and creamy dressing, on the other hand, use mayo as your primary ingredient. Mix with sour cream, heavy cream, or vinegar to help thin out the dressing, and add more flavor with your preferred herbs and spices.

As an example, you can whip up a 1-minute keto blue cheese dressing by combining 3 tablespoons of sour cream and 2.5 tablespoons of mayonnaise with around 30 grams of fresh blue cheese. You can also make a quick Ranch, Caesar, or Creamy Italian keto dressing by following the recipes below.

Top 8 Keto Dressing Recipes

Here are our favorite easy recipes that anyone on keto can enjoy. Click on the photo or the button to see how the recipe is made.

1. Keto-Approved Ranch Dressing

Ranch is one of the most popular dressings, especially in the United States. Most store-bought ranch dressings are very low in carbs, but they tend to come loaded with inflammatory fats and preservatives that make them less healthy.

For a classic ranch dressing that is both keto-friendly and healthy, it is best to whip it up yourself. With this keto-approved recipe, all you need to do is combine and blend the ingredients together — quick and easy as can be.

Have it with our chicken bacon ranch salad, use it as a keto-friendly veggie dip, or serve it with some hot wings. No matter how you decide to add it to your diet, it’ll be one of the most flavorful ways to increase your fat intake.

Keto-Approved Ranch Dressing

See How To Make It

2. Keto 5 Minute Caesar Dressing

To avoid the extra fuss and expense of buying a keto-friendly caesar dressing, try making it yourself. You’ll need just seven ingredients (most of which you may already have at home) — and it will be ready in 5 minutes or less.

For a quick keto caesar salad, dress some of your favorite keto greens and top it all with freshly shaved parmesan cheese. If you have some extra time (and love bacon), make caesar salad bacon baskets instead. They are perfect for anyone who can’t get enough savory flavor with their keto meal.

Keto Friendly Caesar Dressing

See How To Make It

3. Easy Keto Honey Vinaigrette

If you love the sweet and sour flavor profile of a honey-based dressing, you can still have it on keto —  just make it yourself. With this low-carb honey vinaigrette recipe, you’ll use a bit of raw honey for its distinct taste while getting the rest of the sweetness from stevia. This allows you to create a robust honey vinaigrette without having to worry about consuming too much sugar.

Try it on a simple salad or use it to balance out the savoriness of your keto meal. To experience what I mean, use it as your dressing for a Keto Thai Chicken Salad Bowl.

Easy Keto Honey Vinaigrette

See How To Make It

4. Thousand Island Dressing

For something creamy that diverges completely from blue cheese or ranch, you’ll find thousand island dressing is a great option. Unfortunately, most pre-prepared products will come with added sugars and high-carb ketchup, so it’s best to try making it yourself.

The key to this recipe is using keto-friendly mayo and low carb ketchup. Both can be made yourself or found on the shelves (after carefully looking over the ingredients).

The simple combination of ketchup and mayo can be satisfying on its own, but don’t forget to try it with the apple cider vinegar, diced pickle, and onion. They add another layer of complexity that might make this your new favorite keto dressing.

Thousand Island Dressing

See How To Make It

5. Zesty Keto Italian Dressing

This is essentially our honey vinaigrette dressing with extra zest instead of stevia. All you need is an Italian spice mix or the combination of herbs used in the recipe to make this quick and easy Italian dressing.

You can also try making a creamy version by replacing the oil with mayo and using enough vinegar to get it to the right viscosity. Keep the seasonings the same.

Try having the oil-based dressing or the creamy Italian variation on a keto cobb salad to give it an extra punch of flavor and fat.

Zesty Keto Italian Dressing

See How To Make It

6. 5 Minute Keto Raspberry Vinaigrette

If you prefer a dressing that is on the sweeter side, this is the perfect substitute for those sugary store-bought vinaigrettes. Here you’ll get a rich array of flavor from keto-friendly berries while using stevia instead of sugar.

The sweetness will help balance the savory and salty flavors in your keto salad. If you need some culinary inspiration, try using it as the dressing for this simple keto mixed green spring salad or our prosciutto and goat cheese salad.

5 Minute Keto Raspberry Vinaigrette

See How To Make It

7. Catalina Style Dressing

The perfect dressing for keto ketchup lovers. Even if you aren’t keen on tomato-based dressings, you may find this surprisingly enjoyable. It has a well-balanced flavor profile with enough sweet, sour, salty, and umami to turn any bland meal into a satisfying dish.

Try it on any keto salad you think is missing that extra oomph, and you’ll see why I always have a dressing like this on hand.

Catalina Style Dressing

See How To Make It

8. Keto Mustard Vinaigrette (from our cobb salad recipe)

Cobb salad is one of the best ways to fit many of the healthiest (and tastiest) keto foods into one meal. The mustard vinaigrette is the high-fat icing on top of this healthy-fat-rich, super-low-carb keto salad.

This dressing will also pair well with virtually any keto salad and can be whipped up in under a minute. If you need a quick and reliably tasty keto dressing in a pinch, look no further than this recipe.

Conversely, if you prefer a creamy dressing with your cobb salad, you’ll find a quick and simple alternative in our vegetarian cobb salad recipe and our keto BLT salad recipe. Think of them as another variation on your typical ranch dressing that can be whisked together in minutes. You can even turn it into a chunky blue cheese dressing by mixing in some fresh cheese crumbles.

Keto Cobb Salad with Vinaigrette

See How To Make It

Key Takeaways for Keto Dressings

Whether you are eating out, grocery shopping, or making them at-home, the healthiest keto-friendly dressings will have these three characteristics:

  1. They use healthy oils/fats as the primary ingredients.
  2. The rest of the ingredients list contains minimally-processed foods.
  3. Each serving contains a minimal amount of net carbs that you can fit into your keto diet.

From a health and budget-friendly perspective, your best bet for a reliable keto dressing is to make it yourself. Here’s a quick recap of the recipes we learned about in this article:

We mentioned these keto salads as well:

For more keto meal ideas, check out our recipe roundup of the top ten keto salads.

As with anything you eat while following the keto lifestyle, make sure you are mindful of how the recipe fits into your nutritional needs for the day. Dousing your salad with keto dressing is a great way to increase your intake of healthy fats, but overdoing it can slow your fat loss progress to a halt (and may even cause weight gain).

To help you figure out how much fat is too much or too little for you, we’ve included several tools and plans that’ll help guide you toward the results you want: