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“What qualifies as an acceptable Bright Line Eating salad dressing?”

This is one of the most common questions from anyone who is new or exploring Bright Line Eating.  And it is usually followed by another question – “What salad dressings actually meet those requirements?”

And, of course, even after you’ve done Bright Line Eating for a long time, you’re often still on the lookout for new salad dressing flavors you can try.

So no matter where you are at on your weight loss journey, have no fear.  I’ve got your back!  This is your complete guide to Bright Line Eating salad dressing.

Need Bright Line Eating salad dressing ideas?  Get your free guide:

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How Much Bright Line Eating Salad Dressing Can I Have?

The simple answer for most people during the weight loss phase is one tablespoon or 0.5 ounces of a store bought, compliant salad dressing at both lunch and dinner.

However, the full answer is a bit more complex.  That is because for every meal, Bright Line Eating has specific categories of food that you eat and salad dressing is not an official category.   So when you have salad dressing you are using it as one or more of your allowed food categories or types for that meal.

For example, in most cases salad dressing is used as the allowed “fat” for the meal.  But as you get more proficient, you can also use some of your other food types to add additional flavor and volume to your dressing.

Can I Make My Own Bright Line Eating Salad Dressing?

Yes, absolutely!  In fact, the best Bright Line Eating salad dressing is often the one you make yourself.  That is because taking the time to make your own dressing has several advantages over store bought dressings.

No Need to Read Labels

The first advantage of making your own is that you know the exact ingredients.  No searching labels and guessing if that fifteen letter word is some sort of artificial sweetener.  Instead, you control what gets added to your salad dressing.

This makes it easy to completely avoid the sugars and other sweeteners.  And that means you can be 100% confident that you are enjoying a perfectly compliant Bright Line Eating salad dressing that won’t compromise your weight loss efforts.

Healthier Eating

The other perk of making your own dressing is that you can choose to make it heathier.    As you know, most food manufacturers choose ingredients based more on cost than nutritional value.  But when you make your own, you can choose the healthiest oils and other fresh ingredients.

A Larger Serving Size

And by making your own Bright Line Eating salad dressing, you can often get more dressing on your salad.  You do this by taking what I call a “fat plus condiment” approach.  Start with a tablespoon of an approved fat and then add an approved condiment.  This can increase the volume of your salad dressing by quite a bit and make it much easier to start eating those big salads.

 

A Larger Serving Size

And by making your own Bright Line Eating salad dressing, you can often get more dressing on your salad.  You do this by taking what I call a “fat plus condiment” approach.  Start with a tablespoon of an approved fat and then add an approved condiment.  This can increase the volume of your salad dressing by quite a bit and make it much easier to start eating those big salads.

This works because condiments are a special category in Bright Line Eating.  Some of which you can have an unlimited amount (within reason of course).  Others you can have as extra food up to a specific amount.  For example, you can add two ounces of an approved salsa to any meal.  (For more specifics on approved condiments see Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy Thin and Free.)

How Do I Make My Own Bright Line Eating Salad Dressing?

If you google “homemade salad dressing recipes,” you’ll get about 32 million results.  But many of those won’t work well with Bright Line Eating.  So where do you start?

Well, I’d suggest thinking about two broad categories.  Let’s start with the easiest.

Single Ingredient Dressings

It may be a stretch to call a single ingredient dressing “homemade,” but I won’t tell if you don’t.  The point is that you have several options you can use as a salad dressing substitute.

 

Mustard

Most mustards work as an acceptable condiment.  My mostly vegan daughter frequently uses mustard as her salad dressing of choice on a variety of salads.  I don’t use it as often, but I do love it on a hamburger salad.  We cook up hamburger patties (usually we sous vide them) and put them on a salad of greens, sautéed onions and mushrooms, pickles and tomatoes.  I then top with my favorite Dijon mustard.

(For more on sous vide cooking see: My Bright Line Eating Secret Weapon #1: Sous Vide Cooking)

Salsa

Salsa can be another great salad dressing substitute.  As long as it doesn’t contain fruit or other sweeteners is would be considered a condiment.  The most obvious application would be on a taco salad.  And since salsa would not be your fat serving, you can add some guacamole to your salad as well. 

Balsamic Vinegar

This is my favorite single ingredient option.   A high quality balsamic vinegar sprinkled on a salad can be delicious.  My absolute favorite is a Strawberry White Balsamic Vinegar.  But do be careful, some of the balsamic vinegars can get quite sweet.  So keep the quantify to a minimum or skip them altogether if they become problematic.

Olive Oil

Another easy and delicious option can be to just use olive oil (or another healthy oil).  The trick is to use a high quality olive oil.  Most store bought olive oils are fine for cooking, but do not taste very good on their own.  Try and find an olive oil store near you that uses quality suppliers.  They will likely have a variety of flavors that can really make your salad pop. 

If you don’t have such a store near you, you can order the good stuff online.  I’d suggest trying the Olive Tap.  They have one of their physical store locations in my neck of the woods, but they ship all over the country.  The Olive Tap is one of the largest gourmet olive oil and balsamic vinegar stores in the U.S.  And because they are not some massive chain store, they can get oils and vinegars from artisan and small batch producers all over the world.

And remember, olive oil would most definitely could as your fat for the meal.  So make sure that you weigh or measure your serving size. 

Dressings Made from Scratch

Your other homemade option is a more traditional, multiple ingredient salad dressing.  This obviously takes a bit more time.  However, the extra work can return some amazing flavor dividends.  Here are three approaches that I have used to make my own Bright Line Eating salad dressing.

Oil Based Dressing

A homemade vinaigrette is amazingly simple to make.  I love this approach because you can make it one serving at a time and you don’t need to follow a strict recipe. 

Step 1: Grab a Small Covered Container

You can use a small Mason jars or a small, plastic food storage container.  I love to use the GoStack Twist n’ Lock Storage Jars which seal nicely and are easy to clean.

Step 2: Add Olive Oil

Pour in half an ounce or one tablespoon of olive oil.  I prefer to weigh out the half ounce so I don’t have a measuring spoon to clean.  And you can really notch up the flavor if you use a high quality olive oil.

Step 3: Add Condiments

Then just add in a variety of acceptable condiments.

The most traditional ingredient, of course, would be some vinegar.  I’ll typically use balsamic, but will sometimes use apple cider or white vinegar.  A common ratio would be about three-parts oil to one-part vinegar.  But you can be more generous with the vinegar if you’d like.

Other acceptable condiments I’ve used have included mustard, minced garlic, salt & pepper, hot sauce, soy sauce and other herbs and spices.  Find a combination that works well for you and the type of salad you’re eating.

Step 4: Shake It Up

Add the lid to your container and shake it all together.  Just make sure that your lid is sealed tightly or you’ll be cleaning up quite a mess.

And that’s all there is to it.  I like these oil plus condiment salad dressings because they are so quick and easy to make.  And you can end up with well more than a tablespoon of dressing per salad.

Creamy Dressings

Another great option is some of your more traditional creamy salad dressings like ranch or bleu cheese.  These are more involved to make, but they can taste so much better than anything you buy at the store.

You can find lots of recipes online that with little to no modification will work well as a Bright Line Eating salad dressing.  One of the recipes we’ve enjoyed is a Homemade Greek Yogurt  Ranch Dressing.  I also like to add fresh dill to really give it an amazing flavor.

Oil & Dairy Free Dressings

These are a bit harder to find, but are worth adding to your repertoire.  A great example is a Creamy Chipotle Dressing from High Carb Hannah.  She uses cashew butter instead of oil or dairy.  I love this dressing on a taco salad or even a regular salad.  You can find the recipe in her YouTube video 5 Easy Vegan & Oil Free Salad Dressings.  (It is the last recipe in the video and starts about the five and half minute mark.)

 

What Bright Line Eating Salad Dressings Can I Buy?

When it comes to choosing a Bright Line Eating salad dressing the main goal is to avoid flour, sugar, artificial sweeteners and other natural sweeteners.  Fortunately, avoiding flour is not much of a challenge.  But finding a salad dressing without added sweeteners can be a tall order.

According to the published Bright Line Eating guidelines, store bought salad dressings are allowed if sugar or other sweeteners are not listed in the first three ingredients.  This is a simple guideline that is easy to communicate and easy to remember.  And overall, I think this is a good way to go. (For a full list of sweeteners to avoid see What kind of sugar or sweeteners are allowed?)

But after reviewing the ingredient list and nutritional information for hundreds of bottled salad dressings, I added two additional requirements.

Additional Restrictions

The first additional restriction I follow is only using salad dressings that have no more than one gram of sugar per two tablespoon serving.  Because food companies often put multiple types of sweeteners in one product, you can still end up with a higher sugar content than the first three ingredients rule might imply. 

Of course, this is an optional rule that you do not need to follow.  However, I find that it helps keep me in check.  And, even with this added restriction, I still managed to find 261 bottled salad dressings that meet all of the requirements. 

And keep in mind, this one gram of sugar rule only works well for sweeteners with actual sugar.  It won’t reveal if the product is loaded with other non-sugar based sweeteners.  So I recommend you have a second additional requirement.

If a dressing tastes unusually sweet, skip it.  I’ve seen many bottled salad dressings with multiple kinds of artificial and non-sugar based sweeteners on the ingredients list.  Some of these products manage to taste incredibly sweet.  And they might be fine for the calorie counter trying to lose a few pounds.  But for those of us who struggle with food/sugar addiction, they should be avoided. 

(Not sure if you have a sugar addiction? Check out Sugar Addiction: 15 Warning Signs You May Have It.)

Salad Dressing Shopping Tips

After reviewing the ingredient lists for hundreds of bottled salad dressings, there are a number of observations I began to make.  I’ve translated these into tips that will help you find an appropriate salad dressing without spending hours in the grocery store.

Start with These Flavors

Certain flavors of salad dressings are much more likely than others to contain lower amounts of sugar.  This means that if you start with these flavors your odds greatly increase of finding one that meets the requirements of a Bright Line Eating salad dressing.

These flavors include:

Bleu Cheese

Caesar

Green Goddess

Ranch (regular and various flavors)

Avoid these Flavors

Some flavors are made to be very sweet and as such tend to have lots of sugar.  It is very difficult to a Bright Line Eating Salad dressing in any of these flavors:

French

Honey Dijon

Poppy Seed

Thousand Island

Western

Avoid Fat-Free Dressings

Most fat-free dressings are loaded with extra sugar to compensate for the removal of fat.  There are some that are acceptable, but it may take a lot of time to find them.

Be Careful with Lite/Light Dressings

Many of the dressings labeled “lite” or “light” are not Bright Line Eating compliant.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does have a list of requirements that need to be met with a product is labeled “light” or “lite.”  But a “lite” dressing does not mean that it is healthy.  It usually just means that it has less fat and/or calories than a similar reference product.

Try These Brands

 

O’Dang Hummus

The O’Dang Hummus dressings are a great option.  Five of their six dressings meet the requirements outline above. 

This product is quite unique.  Rather than rely on soybean oil or any other oil, the first ingredient in all of the O’Dang Hummus dressings is chickpeas.  Originally pitched on the television show Shark Tank, this line of dressings is now even available at Walmart. But don’t look in the refrigerated section.  These hummus dressings are shelf stable and in the salad dressing aisle.  

Primal Kitchen® Dressings

The Primal Kitchen® Dressings are designed with the Paleo and Keto crowds in mind.  However, ten of the fourteen dressings are Bright Line Eating compliant.  This includes the only Thousand Island flavor to meet the requirements above.

The other unique thing about these dressings is that they are all made with 100% pure avocado oil rather than the more common soybean oil.  And they contain no refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives or any artificial ingredients whatsoever.

I really love their Ranch Dressing.  It is the absolute perfect thickness and flavor for a Bright Line Eating salad dressing.  What do I mean?

Well, some salad dressings are very thick and flavorful, but one tablespoon just doesn’t cover a good size salad.  So you end up with bites of salad with little to no dressing.  Other dressings are less thick and can cover your entire salad, but then the flavor is so spread out that you hardly taste it.

The Primal Kitchen® Ranch Dressing on the other hand avoids both of those problems.  It is the perfect thickness to easily cover a large salad.  And it is packed with lots of organic herbs like parsley, chives and dill so you get great flavor with every bite.

You can buy these dressings on the store shelf or order them direct from the Primal Kitchen® website.  (If you order them online, you can use my affiliate code PK10OFFNLC to receive 10% off your order.)

Sir Kensington’s Ranch Dressings (H5)

The Sir Kensington’s line of ranch dressings is another great option.  They make four varieties of ranch and all of them make an acceptable Bright Line Eating salad dressing.  These ranch dressings are sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free.  You can find these in the salad dressing aisle at most grocery stores.

 

 

261 Bright Line Eating Salad Dressing Ideas

Now that you know all things about choosing a Bright Line Eating salad dressing, it might feel even harder than ever.  No need to despair – the hard work has already been done for you. I’ve put together a free guide of 261 bottled salad dressings that meet the requirements outlined above.  So save yourself the time and frustration on your next trip to the store by downloading your own copy here.

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