8 Common Salad Dressings and their Shelf Life

8 common salad dressings

How bland would salads be without these tasty inventions? Here are 8 common salad dressings and their shelf life.



This is simply any mixture made from an acidic liquid like vinegar, lemon juice or wine that is combined with oil.

This name stems from the French word – vinaigre, which means vinegar. As such, initial recipes used vinegar, seasoning and the timeless olive oil.

Nowadays, vinaigrette recipes have evolved with some using other types of oil, butter, acidic liquids, fruits, herbs and spices. For instance, the honey Dijon vinaigrette incorporates honey and Dijon mustard.

Besides being used on salads, vinaigrette dressing works well as a marinade for fish and meat. It is also used on sandwiches, noodles as well as pizza.

Caesar dressing

Caesar salad dressing is named thus as it is used on this specific salad. It was named after Caesar Cardini who concocted it in 1924.

The dressing is made of an emulsion of olive oil, egg yolks, lemon, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, garlic and seasonings. Anchovies give the dressing a ‘fishy’ flavor (no pun intended) hence you may find other recipes omitting them.

Italian dressing

Similar to vinaigrettes, Italian dressing makes use of ingredients synonymous with Italian cuisine – oregano and basil. However, it has nothing to do with Italy as it was first used in North America and Canada.

A basic Italian dressing includes water, red wine vinegar/ lemon juice, oil and the mentioned herbs. Other variations include salt, garlic, dill, honey, sugar/corn syrup or chili flakes.

Whichever way you prefer yours, Italian dressing works well as a marinade for grilled meat and chicken. It is also perfect for sandwiches, burgers, pasta dishes, sprinkled on pizza toppings as well as everyday salads.

Thousand Island

This is one of the most popular dressings. It has a rich history since initially it was reserved for the elite. Nowadays, Thousand Island dressing is readily available for all.

Initial recipes listed the following ingredients – hard-boiled egg, pickles, onions, green olives, peppers, mayonnaise and ketchup. With time, variations erupted among ingredients used. Nowadays, you can find the addition of vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, chili sauce or tomato puree.

Thousand Island dressing is popular on: burgers, sandwiches, egg benedict, nachos, fries and grilled meat. It is also used as a dip for crackers and tortilla chips.

Russian dressing

This dressing obtains its name from one of the ingredients used – caviar, which are synonymous with Russia. Nowadays, caviar is rarely used.

Nevertheless, other ingredients used include chives, tomato ketchup, mayonnaise, pimientos as well as spices. Other variations incorporate Worcestershire sauce, lemon, horseradish, sweet pickle relish and chili sauce.

Russian dressing works well on the following: Sandwiches, salads, burgers or when sprinkled on grilled chicken.

Green goddess dressing

This creamy deliciousness works great both as a dressing and dip. Green goddess dressing makes use of mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice, anchovies and numerous herbs which give off the green hue.

These herbs include tarragon, parsley and chives. Other variations use chervil – a close cousin of parsley, plain Greek yoghurt instead of sour cream, avocado, Dijon mustard or spring onions instead of chives.

Due to its thickness, green goddess dressing works well on cruciferous greens like romaine lettuce. As a dip, it is popularly used on vegetables – think of carrot sticks dipped in green goddess, yum!

For bold cooking, use it as a marinade for roast chicken. You can also use it on grains, roast vegetables, drizzled on fish as well as tortilla wraps.

Ranch dressing

Closely resembling green goddess dressing, ranch dressing is another creamy pack of goodness.

It makes use of the scrumptious buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, herbs and spices. These include dill, garlic, black pepper, salt, chives, parsley and onion. Other variations use yoghurt in place of sour cream, hot sauce and lemon juice for a kick.

Ranch dressing is your go to dip for: spicy chicken wings, grilled meat, diverse salads, chicken and grilled fish.


This creamy, nutty dressing has its roots in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions.

Hummus is famous for two key ingredients – pureed garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and tahini (sesame seed paste). Other generic ingredients used are olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Other variations add spices such as roasted red peppers and chopped olives.

Hummus is a versatile dressing and dip. Use it creatively to crust grilled chicken, fish and steak. You can also spread on wraps, toasts, burgers and pizzas. Moreover, it works great on soups, pasta dishes and salads.

Shelf life of these 8 Common Salad Dressings 

The shelf life of any salad dressing majorly depends on: ingredients used as well as storage conditions.

For instance, cream, egg or mayonnaise based dressings deteriorate faster. The use of fresh herbs and vegetables also exacerbates spoilage.

Similarly, homemade dressings have a shorter shelf life. In contrast, commercially bottled ones last longer. The obvious reason is the use of preservatives.

Homemade salad dressings

When preparing salad dressings at home, stick to small batches. This allows you to use them frequently, without wasting.

One advantage of homemade dressings is this – you are aware of ingredients used.

Vinaigrette based dressings last fairly longer – some go up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Dairy based dressings keep well for a few days, some for 1 week.

Commercially bottled

Store unopened bottles of salad dressings in the pantry. Use a cool, dry section.

Well stored unopened bottles last up to 2 years in good quality. As for opened bottles, refrigerate after each use.

Keep the caps tightly shut to prevent entry of contaminants. Refrigerated bottles keep well for close to 9 months.


It is quite easy to spot spoiled salad dressings. Here are a few pointers:

  • Change in appearance – this is seen in ingredients becoming dark or black. Discard such dressings immediately.
  • Cloudy sediments in bottles also indicates an overstayed dressing. Replace such even if the usage period has not elapsed.
  • Off- odor or pungent smell is a clear sign of spoilage.
  • Layers of separated ingredients.


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