The Benefits of Making Your Own Plant Based Salad Dressing + Plant Based Caesar Dressing (oil-free)

no oil plant based caesar salad dressing

I used to eat salad just to have an excuse to eat blue cheese dressing. And when I say “salad,” I mean one part lettuce and five parts dressing. Because I called it a “salad,” I allowed my brain to run with the story that it was healthy. It was not healthy. 

The thing about a yummy salad dressing is that it helps you eat more salad, even if it is just a sparse carrier for the dressing. That was true for me when I was an alcohol-drinking, cigarette-smoking, vegetarian, and it’s true for me today, ex-drinker, ex-smoker, and healthy whole food plant based eater. When I have delicious plant based salad dressing in my fridge, I eat more salad. 

That said, not all salad dressings (or salads) are created equal. Most dressings sold in grocery stores have a long list of ingredients that include high amounts of oil, sugar, milk, and artificial additives and preservatives to make them super palatable and extend their shelf life. The thing is, people who buy salad dressing are people trying to eat healthier. But, are there better options?

If someone buys ice cream and potato chips, it’s no surprise that those things aren’t at the top of the health-promoting food scale. Store-bought salad dressing is different. It’s packaged as healthy, and it’s meant to go on something healthy, therefore it’s easier to believe that eating blue cheese dressing with a piece of lettuce is doing something fantastic for our body.

The reality is, most store-bought salad dressings don’t offer much nutrition other than calories.

Since we know that salad dressing helps us eat more salad, let’s see how we can use this to our nutrition advantage. Turns out, there’s a super-easy way to do this.

You can make your own plant based salad dressing at home!

It’s fast, it’s easy, you can control exactly what you put in them, and as long as you have some good recipes, they are much more delicious and nutritious than store-bought dressing (who cares if they won’t last as long – I mean how many bottles of half-used dressing have you thrown away from a year ago?!). 

Once you start making your own plant based salad dressing, you’ll use it more often, and you won’t go back to store-bought.

We happen to be salad dressing recipe masters, so when you’re ready to play around with making your own dressing, we’re here to help.

Here’s the game plan: 

  1. Make today’s free recipe and leave a comment below telling us what you think.
  2. Browse our blog for salad dressing recipes and make sure you always have a homemade dressing and essential salad ingredients in your fridge.
  3. Sign up for our weekly Plant Based Meal Plans and we will plan your dressings and meals for you. All you have to do is follow along and eat! We give you delicious whole food plant based salad dressing recipes each week, along with bomb-diggity salad recipes to put them on.

Are you new to making your own salad dressing? Talk to us in the comments below!

no oil plant based caesar salad dressing

Plant Based Caesar Dressing (oil free)

Makes 2 cups
Author: Molly Patrick

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 10 minutes (130 g)
  • 1 cup water (237 ml)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast (20 g)
  • 2 small cloves garlic, peeled and left whole (8 g)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dulse flakes or powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Drain the cashews and discard the soaking water. Place the cashews into your blender, along with the new water and the rest of the ingredients. Blend until super creamy and smooth, about a minute.
  • Serve on your favorite salad!

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with making your own plant based salad dressing. 

Xo
Molly

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15 Comments

  1. Karen on February 6, 2021 at 9:51 am

    This is my absolute favorite salad dressing!! I definitely eat way more salad when I have this dressing on hand. Add in some baked tofu and a grain and it’s a quick meal. I’m going to go make some right now 🙂

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Karen on February 6, 2021 at 10:06 am

      Enjoy, Karen!

      I am making this dressing today, too. ~Karen

  2. Doris Ziefle on February 6, 2021 at 10:05 am

    I love CFDG dressings! I would like to try this one, but I have no dulse flakes or powder. Is it an essential item or can the recipe work without it? Thanks!

    • Jennifer on March 28, 2021 at 7:28 am

      Did you make it without? I’m
      Wondering the same.

      • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Karen on March 28, 2021 at 9:14 am

        Hi Jennifer – Our recipes tend to be super flexible and this one will still be yummy even leaving out the dulse. Give it try 🙂 ~Karen

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Karen on March 28, 2021 at 9:10 am

      Hi Doris – I’m not sure how we missed replying to your question when you first posted but, yes, dulse flakes/powder can be omitted and the dressing will still be delicious! ~Karen

  3. Shelley Harris on February 6, 2021 at 10:58 am

    5 stars
    Absolutely one of my favorites with baked tofu and romaine. It’s so much better than anything you’d get in the store or in any restaurant. So much better tasting and better for you.

  4. Mel on February 6, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Do you have any favorite dressings that don’t have seeds or nuts in them?

    • Liz on February 6, 2021 at 2:29 pm

      5 stars
      I make this dressing with white beans instead of the cashews and it is delicious. I was worried that I would be giving up the fabulous CFDG dressings when I learned I needed to limit nuts, but I have lost nothing in the sauce department.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Steph on February 7, 2021 at 11:52 am

      Hi Mel!

      Since all of our recipes are oil-free, we typically use nuts and/or seeds in our dressings for their natural fat content. The fat is important for texture and mouthfeel. However, we know that allergies and sensitivities can be an issue here.

      We recommend trying these substitutes for nuts and seeds in blended dressings: white beans (lima beans work great), steamed cauliflower, or silken tofu. The water content will differ between these substitutions and the cashews the recipe was designed for, so you may need to decrease the liquid called for in the recipe when subbing with beans or you can sub half Beans and half steamed cauliflower. The key here is being willing to experiment to find your groove. 🙂

      We hope these work for you. Happy Dressing!

      xo
      Stephanie

  5. Suzanne on February 6, 2021 at 1:16 pm

    I made this dressing last week and it’s absolutely delicious.

  6. TC on February 7, 2021 at 7:08 am

    Hi, Your salad dressings are fabulous, but I don’t know what to do with the dulse flakes. I try to cut the flakes up a bit, so they are smaller, but I’m afraid that it will not mix in well. Do these disintegrate after being stirred in? I don’t want to have a big seaweed flake in my dressing.
    Any advise?
    Thanks,
    Your Flake from New Jersey

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Steph on February 7, 2021 at 11:38 am

      Hi, Flake from New Jersey 🙂

      We generally recommend purchasing dulse flakes that are fine in texture, almost like salt. If your dulse is course, though, no worries. Since the dressing is assembled in the blender, it will take care of that for you.

      Enjoy the dressing, it’s a serious favorite around here!

      xo
      Stephanie

  7. Danielle Goodrich on February 9, 2021 at 7:47 am

    5 stars
    This was my favorite dressing until the blue cheese one from a couple of weeks ago. And now it’s a tie! It is still my go to and my non-vegan family loves it as well. I can eat this on anything!!

  8. Rachel on October 13, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    1 star
    I had high hopes for this recipe but was disappointed, I didn’t think it tasted anything like caesar and ended up throwing it out 🙁

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