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Zesty Homemade Italian Salad Dressing over Romaine

5 stars based on 15 votes

This is one of my favorite salad dressings, not least because it’s easy to make and my whole family loves it. It’s a classic oil and vinegar dressing with lots of garlic and a few surprise ingredients, like Worcestershire sauce and maple syrup. Sounds unusual, I know, but it works: the Worcestershire adds a punch of savory flavor and the maple syrup rounds out the acidity.  

To make it, simply combine all the ingredients in a jar and shake to emulsify. That’s all there is to it. Enjoy!

*When dressing salads, be sure greens are completely dry so the dressing doesn’t get watered down.

Zesty Homemade Italian Salad Dressing

Servings: Makes 1 1/3 cups


  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality such as Colavita or Lucini
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, best quality such as Pompeian Gourmet or Domaine des Vignes
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large head of romaine, washed, dried and cut into large, bite-sized pieces


  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar. Seal tightly with lid and shake vigorously to emulsify. Toss gently with the romaine lettuce right before serving. Store extra dressing in refrigerator for up to a week. As the dressing sits, it will separate (and solidify in the fridge), so be sure to shake well before using.

Nutrition Information

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  • Serving size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 155
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Sodium: 151 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    This dressing is perfection! I love it. So delicious. Thank you! I am a big fan of olive oil, but for a lower calorie version do you have any substitution suggestions? Would canola oil work?

    - Joanne Faulkner on September 14, 2017 Reply
    • Sure, Joanne – canola or veg oil would both work.

      - Jenn on September 14, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi Jen,
    Do you think this dressing will make enough dressing to dress a salad for 12 people?

    Thank you,


    - Debbie on May 12, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Debbie, that would allow for just over 2 tablespoons of dressing per salad. Everyone likes their salad dressed a bit differently, but I think it should be sufficient.

      - Jenn on May 12, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My favorite Italian dressing. 5 stars!!

    - Natalie on March 3, 2017 Reply
  • Would this recipe be god for marinating chicken, then baking in the oven?


    - Hanna on September 2, 2016 Reply
    • Definitely!

      - Jenn on September 3, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    We now have a new house dressing! Need I say more?

    - Mark on July 18, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I’m not a salad lover, but this year I’m committed to eating healthier and making as many things as I can from scratch. I’ve made this and your balsamic vinegar dressing recipe multiple times since January. Quality oils and vinegar really do make a difference! The only modification I’ve made is I’ve grated the garlic instead of mincing because I don’t like biting into pieces of raw garlic, but this recipe is now a staple in my home.

    - Kim on February 19, 2016 Reply
  • What is the calorie count per serving?

    - Vicki Fankhauser on February 5, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Vicki, Each serving is 2 tablespoons and is 155 calories. I just added the nutritional info to the recipe.

      - Jenn on February 5, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This Zesty Italian Dressing recipe is freaking amazing! I’m rarely compelled to write reviews for recipes because I usually have to tweak for my tastes, but this one is spot on!

    - Gotta Have Cute on December 31, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars


    - Elizabeth on October 2, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Very smooth with just the right amount of tartness. Perfect for any salad.

    - Sandy on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • Wow. This looks like an interesting recipe for me to try. I’m on a mission to eat more veggies. My favorite Italian dressing has herbs in it. Can you add dried or fresh herbs? If so, what and how much? I was thinking of adding dried Italian seasoning.

    - Spazkitty on April 20, 2015 Reply
    • Yes, go ahead and add a tablespoon of fresh herbs or a 1/2 teaspoon dried.

      - Jenn on April 21, 2015 Reply
      • 5 stars

        Going forward, I am trying to be efficient with herbs, chipotle peppers and even tomato paste by pulsing and freezing the left overs in a silicone ice cube tray. Can I use the frozen herb and chipotle cubes for salad dressings? Or should I only use them for cooked dishes? What quantity would you advise me to freeze, such as tsp or Tsb? Thanks so much….

        - Elizabeth on October 2, 2015 Reply
        • Hi Elizabeth, I think you could use them in salad dressings as well as cooked dishes. I would probably freeze tablespoon-size portions since recipes rarely call for less than that.

          - Jenn on October 2, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This Italian dressing is a home run! Just made tonight for a simple Romaine salad with grilled chicken. It was simply divine and I don’t even like Italian dressing!! This will be new go-to for sure!

    - Emily on April 19, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    LOVE this dressing! It’s all we use now!

    - susan on March 26, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Great recipe. Easy with ingredients always on hand. Made with mixed greens and added grated Parmesan. Excellent.

    - Jennifer hamri on March 22, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    As an Italian, I am embarrassed to say that this is the best Italian dressing recipe I have found! It is the perfect balance of flavors. Now just don’t tell my family…….

    - Linda P on March 20, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Jennifer: Thank you again and again for all your wonderful recipes. You have taken the fear out of HOME Entertaining for me. Last night we had friends over to a special Valentine dinner. I served your Zucchini “Noodles” with Pesto and Pine Nuts and dressed the salad with your Zesty homemade Italian dressing. These additions brought my Steak dinner to new heights. When adopting any of your well instructed recipes I never Test Kitchen them first before serving them to my Family or Friends. They are so reliable and full of flavor. PS: Also 5 stars for the Zucchini Noodles

    - Carol Marrazzo on February 15, 2015 Reply
    • That is so nice to read, Carol! Thanks for the wonderful feedback and so happy you are enjoying the recipes 🙂

      - Jenn on February 15, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Mercy me! I am in love with your food. So much zip, that I will just keep plugging through some more recipes.

    - Jill Plamondon on February 2, 2015 Reply
    • Thank you, Jill!

      - Jenn on February 4, 2015 Reply
  • I am out of real maple syrup at my house (and the grocery store is closed today for Christmas), can I substitute the maple syrup with agave nectar? We have the light-colored agave nectar. Or what about honey? Any other suggestions? Thanks!

    - Christine on December 25, 2013 Reply
    • Yes either is fine, or even brown sugar.

      - Jenn on December 25, 2013 Reply
  • Super simple! This goes best with such simple salads as romaine and grape tomatoes. With a properly grilled medium rare rib-eye cut, this is golden.

    - H on October 27, 2013 Reply
    • Love this idea!

      - Jenn on October 27, 2013 Reply
  • Delicious dressing that is fail-proof – love it! Friends have also liked it enough to ask for the recipe. A definite keeper!

    - M on October 22, 2013 Reply
  • Great all purpose dressing to always have on hand

    - nicole on October 22, 2013 Reply
  • Very midwest tasting. It’s definitely not bad, but it WAS on the sweet side. Authentic Italian should not be sweet at all. It also lacked a depth I can’t quite put my finger on. For someone not expecting a rockin’ real Italian style dressing in the line of Girard’s Italian Dressing, this recipe will be fine.

    - Papapopup on September 27, 2013 Reply
  • Oh wow. I wasn’t sure about this dressing, but all the reviews raved, so I took the plunge. My husband and I have made short work of this. We’re making a second batch this week. YUM YUM!!

    - r2p2 on March 22, 2013 Reply
  • I’ve been in the mood for a big fat salad all day. Bought the greens, tomatoes, even fresh mozzarella, but wanted a dressing that wasn’t too overpowering. Just found this recipe and made up a batch. It’s wonderful. For me, it’s the Worcestershire sauce, more than the maple syrup, that makes it unique. Thank you for this!

    - Donal on March 16, 2013 Reply
  • This recipe got me started to follow your blog. So many good recipes. This dressing I make all the time. I also use it as a marinade for chicken and drizzle some on veggies when I roast them

    - barbara on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • I am allergic to black pepper and gluten (found in Worcestershire Sauce). Any suggestions for substitutions?

    I have been trying to find a salad dressing to make for some time. My favorite dressing is French, but due to finding out I’m allergic to tomatoes I’m unable to have it anymore.

    I figured Italian would be the best dressing for me due to other allergies I have also.

    Thanks for your kindness in sharing your recipes and for your help.

    God Bless, Linda

    - Linda on January 20, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Linda, It’s hard to say without knowing all of your allergies but check out this recipe. It’s a bit more work since it’s made with fresh herbs but it’s quick in the food processor. It’s one of my absolute favorites.

      - Jenn on January 20, 2013 Reply
    • There’s always a worcestershire vs. anchovy debate with caesar salad dressing. May be a good substitute for you. The paste is so convenient.

      - Lynne on June 19, 2013 Reply
    • Hi 🙂 Sorry to chime in on an old post but I have a lot of food allergies too and am used to substituting.

      Most people I know sub in roasted bell peppers, beets, and carrots to replace tomato based sauces (like marinara) so maybe try a mix of those in recipes that call for tomatoes

      I can’t have Worchester sauce either so I sub in a mix of fresh squeezed lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, and soy sauce. Tastes exactly the same! Best of luck and hopes that helps

      - Colleen on February 1, 2016 Reply
  • Thanks for the recipe! How long would you say this lasts in the refrigerator?

    - Tina on January 2, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Tina, It keeps well for about a week.

      - Jenn on January 3, 2013 Reply
  • I made this last night and it’s GREAT! Thank you for an easy and delicious dressing recipe. Way fresher than store bought, super tasty and easy enough for a weeknight. Every recipe of yours I’ve tried has been so great, thank you for sharing them!

    - Jennifer on November 27, 2012 Reply
  • Very good! Yay! I’m all about making the fresh stuff!

    - Lucy on October 13, 2012 Reply
  • Very tasty! Mmmm, mmmm good!

    - David on October 4, 2012 Reply
  • Has anyone tried this as a marinade? I am trying to not use bottled stuff anymore…

    - Heather on September 29, 2012 Reply
  • This homemade Italian dressing sounds wonderful! With all the hype these days on healthly eating, can you provide the nutritional information on this dressing please?


    - Teresa on September 20, 2012 Reply
    • Wish I could, Teresa, but I’m just not set up to do that. Am looking into it though as I get a lot of requests.

      - Jenn on September 20, 2012 Reply
  • Great as a marinade as well. I used it on flank steak and it is amazing! I added some chopped shallots.

    - Lori on July 13, 2012 Reply
  • This looks delicious…especially with the maple syrup! Can’t wait to try it!

    - Kristen on June 24, 2012 Reply
  • @Laurie great idea!!! I make this dressing all the time. We love it.

    I had some leftover israeli couscous so I added some chopped red bell pepper, and red onion and use this dressing and mixed it all up. Yummm

    - barbara Wood on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Never would of thought about the maple syrup! It gives it a “what is that??” taste that’s so good.
    I also added some dried vegetable flakes to it. You can find them in the spice aisle. They re-hydrated overnight in the dressing and kicked it up another notch.
    This is a great go-to recipe!

    - Laurie on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Another winning recipe from Jenn! This will now become my go-to basic salad dressing recipe. I add just a pinch of granulated sugar in addition to the maple syrup because I like dressings that are on the sweeter side, but otherwise, this dressing is perfection. I never would’ve thought of adding Worcestershire sauce to salad dressing, but it does the trick! And another testament to how good this dressing is: my husband, who normally scarfs down his salad just so he can move on to the main course, went back and had another full bowl of salad, declaring, “This dressing is REALLY GOOD!”

    - Allie on June 7, 2012 Reply
    • Thanks Allie, so glad you guys enjoyed it!

      - Jenn on June 7, 2012 Reply
  • just added this dressing to my tomato, cucumber and onion salad as suggested a few posts ago. Yummm

    - barbara Wood on May 22, 2012 Reply
  • This is perfect and loved by all in my family – thank you!

    - Carissa on May 22, 2012 Reply
  • I’ve been searching for a recipe just like this…simple and useful for a variety of salads. Thank you!

    - Martha on May 21, 2012 Reply
  • Tasted great on a simple salad of cucumber, onion, and tomato with some grilled sliced chicken. The maple syrup added great flavor, be sure to use the real thing.

    - Adrian on May 20, 2012 Reply
  • Thanks so much for this recipe it is my new favorite salad dressing and was a hit at a recent family BBQ!! I have already made 3 batches in 2 weeks 🙂

    - Renee E on May 19, 2012 Reply
  • This is now my go-to recipe for dressing salads. I can finally get rid of the 10+ bottles of dressings taking up room in my fridge now that we’ve found one that’s good on just about any salad combination.

    - Sally on May 18, 2012 Reply
  • So yummy. Thanks for the recipe!

    - mindy t on May 18, 2012 Reply
  • I purchased all of the ingredients for this 2 weeks ago. Finally made the dressing last night and my husband and I both give it a thumbs up. We eat a salads frequently, but I always purchased SASS sesame ginger dressing in Austin (local brand). Since moving to Seattle I’ve been unable to find something we like. Looks like I’ll be keeping your dressing on hand. Thanks Jenn.

    - Danita on May 17, 2012 Reply
  • I made this for my mom for mothers day! She loved it!

    - Emily Pedersen on May 17, 2012 Reply
  • Can’t wait to try this recipe looks great

    - Cheryl Wheeler on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • very easy to make! Great Taste.

    - Marie on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • Love the dressing. Keep a jar ready in the refridge. Found that it is also good on grilled fish and grilled or roasted vegatables. Passed recipe onto my daughter who gave it rave reviews also. Thanks

    - Maria on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • The Bonne Maman jar is a must to achieve the perfect flavor.

    - Debbie on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • This dressing has become my new house dressing.

    - Valerie on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • I have made many homemade Italian dressings using red wine vinegar and they are always so bitter…this recipe is OUTSTANDING! Adding maple syrup instead of sugar added the perfect subtle sweetness that made this recipe a hit with my family. Thank you !

    - Terri on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Unsual recipe, looking forward to trying it!

    - teresa swann on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • My family absolutely loved this dressing! Will make it again.

    - Sheryl on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I usually make fresh dressing each night but this one is great as I can leave it in the fridge and have it on hand. It is terrific. Remember to take it out of the fridge 10 minutes before you need it as the EVOO will be congealed.

    - Patty F. on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • sorry – my comment was actually at the quiche with the leeks and parmesan reggiano cheese. But this dressing looks great – if you haven’t tried the quiche make it ahead for a bake while you cut up fresh fruit this weekend – you’ll be a hit!

    - alicia on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • This is a delicious dish – the leeks & cheese combo really makes it – of course, though you couldn’t do without the cream either!!!

    - alicia on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I’m eager to try this one! My husband is a big fan of Italian dressing and I’m sure it will be a bit hit at our house. Thanks!

    - Ellen on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • This was so easy and soooo scrumptious!!!

    - Dorothy Ruffin on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Looks great! I’m going to try it as a marinade for chicken cutlets

    - Eliana G on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Made this dressing last weekend and loved it. I bought the olive oil you recomended and I could really tell the difference.

    - ROBERTA CHRISTOS on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I made this and everyone in my Italian family loved it – even my 91 year old mother, who thinks her recipe is the ONLY one for Italian dressing. She LOVED it! Thank you!!

    - Renee on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • This was so easy and delicious! These are ingredients I always have on hand – never will I need to be buy Italian dressing again.

    - Cynthia on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • This dressing had a great zippy flavor… everyone commented how good it was. My youngest (pickiest) really liked it and said it tasted like “restaurant” dressing.

    - Liesel on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I loved your Asparagus Soup recipe. I have made several things and they are all good. Thank you for your help in making my dinners a bit more special

    - Ilysa on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I love homemade dressing and this looks delish!

    - Andrea on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • This was fantastic!!! I can use this for so many salads and on a few quinoa recipes I make!!
    Thanks you!

    BTW…I really WANT the cuttingboard:)

    - Susan on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • looks like it will be so good, going to try it this weekend

    - Maureen C on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • can not wait to try this-looks so good

    - Maureen C on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I love this dressing! It is so light and fresh. I can make it up in no time!

    - Cristy on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Love this recipe! I made it in seconds, and love that it can be made and also stored in the same jar. Makes no mess and no cleanup! Great recipe, thanks so much!

    - Janice on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Great !! – BUT, just gotta’ have a couple of shots of Tabasco or Crystal, too !!!

    - Homechef Paul on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • This is a refreshing addition to my multicolored lettuce salad to be served with an outdoor barbecue of salmon and salsa!

    - NKRak on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Fabulous taste. Thank you!

    - Amy Masson on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Easy and delicious. A winner.

    - Selma. Tannenbaum on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Is there something I could substitute for the pure maple syrup? That isn’t something I keep on hand.

    - Melissa Crawford on May 15, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Melissa, You can use pancake syrup, sugar or honey. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I have an easy pasta salad that I make but have to buy zesty italian dressing. I am so glad to find this so now I can make as much as I need. It sounds delicious and as simple as my salad.

    Thanks for sharing.

    - Kelly Reece on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I know I’ve commented twice, but the third time’s the charm. My husband will use no other salad dressing since I made this. We love it!!!

    I would love to win the cutting board!!!

    - barbara Wood on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • YUMMMY…love a good salad dressing! This one looks and tastes FABULOUS!! Thanks for sharing

    - Kris Smith on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • can I use red wine that has turned to vinegar for recipes like this? is that then considered best-quality red wine vinegar? Thanks!

    - Deb on May 8, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Deb, I have never made homemade red wine vinegar but if this is something you know how to do, I imagine it would be very good. I do know it’s more involved than just letting wine turn. You need to add a “vinegar mother” (a bacteria to facilitate the process) to the wine, and then it takes several months to turn into vinegar. Hope that helps.

      - Jenn on May 8, 2012 Reply
  • This was the absolute best; was even better the next day.

    - Val on May 6, 2012 Reply
  • Made the dressing this morning and had it on my salad for lunch. It’s a winner!!! yummm

    - barbara Wood on May 5, 2012 Reply
  • Had to try it and so glad that I did. The family loved it. A breeze to make.

    - Debbie on May 4, 2012 Reply
  • That is DAMN good salad dressing! Thank you!

    - Lori on May 3, 2012 Reply
  • Hello to you and your family, Jenn.
    I am definitely going to make this salad dressing.
    I have spriing lettuce ready to pick and this will be great on it.

    - Edith on May 3, 2012 Reply
  • good one !

    - Priya Sreeram on May 3, 2012 Reply
  • Jenn,
    Thank you for your website! I am sorry I don’t comment after every recipe of yours I make, but you might get sick of hearing from me! My recipe folder is full of your printouts. Thank you.
    I love how your food is healthy, unfussy, and family friendly — yet I still feel that I am preparing something “gourmet” and very special. A lot of love goes into your cooking and it shows!

    - frances on May 2, 2012 Reply
  • can I use red wine that has turned to vinegar for recipes like this? is that then considered best-quality red wine vinegar? Thanks!

    - Deb on May 2, 2012 Reply
  • Sounds great. Will definitely make it!!

    - barbara Wood on May 2, 2012 Reply
  • Gotta try this one. Sounds ZESTY!!!

    - MickMil on May 2, 2012 Reply
  • Our nightly salad is usually just tossed with olive oil, then given a few grinds of black pepper, salted a bit, and then tossed again with vinegar (usually white balsamic). We like it a lot. But I have to say, your Zesty Italian Salad Dressing looks fantastic! I’ll be giving it a try tonight. 🙂

    - Kath on May 2, 2012 Reply
  • Love your recipes…they have helped me brighten
    up my meals…and after 60 years of cooking, they
    were getting boring…Thanks…

    - Mary Tibbetts on May 2, 2012 Reply

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