We don’t want to turn a healthy salad into an unhealthy meal, but are you tired of spending money on healthier dressings that just don’t taste good to you? That’s where Consumer Reports comes in – putting nearly two dozen salad dressings to the test to find the tastiest and healthiest.
For its testing, Consumer Reports experts focused on two of the most popular types of salad dressings: Raspberry vinaigrette and America’s favorite -- ranch.
Testers looked at nutritional value, and then blind taste-tested the dressings because a dressing can be healthy, but if it doesn’t taste good, you probably won’t use it.
Consumer Reports warns salad dressings can be loaded with added sugars and sodium but adds that the fat in dressings is usually the heart-healthy type. Fat can help your body absorb more of the salad’s nutrients.
“We’re seeing some brands using high-quality ingredients and lowering the amounts of added sugars and sodium. You can find some healthy options that taste really good in the supermarket these days,” explained Amy Keating with Consumer Reports.
Raspberry vinaigrette test results
In the raspberry vinaigrette category, Consumer Reports recommends Annie’s Organic Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette. It’s a sour-sweet berry dressing with hints of honey and mustard flavors. It has the lowest sodium in Consumer Reports’ tests and was lower in added sugars than most other vinaigrettes they tested.
Ranch dressing test results
Ranch dressing is by far the most popular dressing in America. If you like it’s creamy-tangy taste, look at the labels. Overall, the tested ranch dressings have more sodium than vinaigrettes, ranging from 150 to 280 milligrams in two tablespoons.
“The ranches did have more sodium than the vinaigrettes, but the ones we tasted all had one gram or less of sugar, and were surprisingly low in unhealthy saturated fat,” said Keating.
One classic ranch dressing that Consumer Reports recommends has just 45 calories a serving. It’s Bolthouse Farms Classic Ranch Yogurt dressing. This traditional-style ranch is fresh-tasting and creamy, with mild spices.
Topping the ranch ratings, though, is a ranch with a twist. Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing & Marinade with Avocado Oil is tart and lemony, with flavors of onion, garlic, black pepper and dill. Tasters said it has a vinaigrette quality.
Consumer Reports’ homemade ranch recipe
½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup low-fat buttermilk
- Mix the dried spices, salt, and pepper together well and store in an airtight container.
- For the dressing, add 1 tablespoon of the spice mix to the sour cream, mayonnaise, and buttermilk.
- Stir to combine.
Note: If you don’t have buttermilk, combine 1½ teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar with ½ cup milk and let stand for 10 minutes.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons:
60 calories, 6 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 2 grams carbs, 0 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars (0 grams added), 1 gram protein, 130 mg sodium.
Consumer Reports’ homemade red raspberry vinaigrette recipe
2 tablespoons raspberry or sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
- Using the back of a spoon, push the raspberries through a wire mesh strainer into a small bowl. Set the strainer over the bowl to allow the juices to drain. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the strainer to get all of the purée into the bowl.
- Whisk the raspberry purée, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to blend completely.
- Slowly whisk the oil into the mixture.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons: 130 calories, 14 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 2 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram sugars (<1 gram added), 0 grams protein, 95 mg sodium.