Olive Garden salad dressing recipe

Olive Garden Inspired Salad Dressing


This is a little concoction I whipped up for the first time a couple nights ago when I made us a steak dinner on the weekend.  Chris thought it was fabulous. I was a little concerned he may not dig it, because I used apple cider vinegar which sometimes causes his mouth to pucker, but with all of the other ingredients, the tartness was mellowed, and the result was just a really, really nice Italian Olive Garden-Inspired salad dressing.

I wanted something like the Olive Garden dressings, but when I looked at the copycat recipes (which I have tried before, and found the results to be nothing spectacular, and really not real clones for Olive Garden), I didn’t like some of the unhealthy ingredients, such as corn syrup which is definitely not figure friendly, gluten free, or good for healthy in general.  Corn syrup definitely doesn’t belong in a home made salad dressing – they put that junk in store bought dressings, along with all the other additives and words you cant pronounce that don’t belong in the human body. 

I also don’t agree with the large amounts of mayo the copycat recipes are putting into the dressings. Italian dressing is an oil and vinegar based dressing, not a mayo based dressing. Mayo doesn’t belong in Italian dressing, certainly not in those quantities. On top of it all, on one of the copycat recipes, I read a comment by someone who used to work at Olive Garden who said that Olive Garden does not put a lick of Mayo in their dressing. This did not surprise me at all. I did add a little, but cut it way down from the recipes I’d seen. Again, if you add a bunch of fattening stuff or otherwise processed stuff (both of which Mayo is) to a salad, it rather defeats the purpose. I was able to modify this dressing to make it figure friendly, relatively “clean” and health conscious, and still got a spectacular result. I like this much more than the Olive Garden copycats I tried, which really didn’t taste like Olive garden anyway. And most important, this passed the husband test, so I know its good.  I got compliments without even asking how it was!  Another keeper.


1/4 cup MCT Oil (from coconut oil) or extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Mayo or Miracle Whip
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced garlic from jar (in juice, not paste), with some of the juice*
1 tablespoon diet brown sugar (Splenda) or coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt or powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
*You can omit the jarred garlic if you don’t have it and increase garlic powder to 1 teaspoon, but I love to use jarred garlic because it is the next best thing to fresh and adds so much flavor.
Combine all ingredients in a jar and blend well. Can also run through a food processor if desired, but I find its not really necessary.
  • Instead of using basil and oregano as I like to do, you can instead use 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning.
  • And in case its been a while since you’ve been to Olive Garden, and you can’t remember what gos in their salad, here’s the score:
    *Red onion, thinly sliced
    *Pepperoncini peppers
    *Tomato, quartered
    *Black olives , whole
    *1/2 cup large croutons
    *Grated Parmesan cheese
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