The Best of the Light Salad Dressings
Keep your salad luscious and low-fat
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Expert Review
Our picks for the top 10 great-tasting, low-calorie salad dressings.
Your choice of salad dressing can determine whether your salad is delicious or a dud. And pouring on the high-fat dressing can quickly transform your healthy salad into a calorie bomb. So it's a good thing there are plenty of great-tasting choices in the light salad dressing category.
After all, salad dressing is one of the more versatile items in your refrigerator. Not only is it a crucial finishing touch for your greens, a bottle of salad dressing can quickly transform into a marinade, dip, sandwich spread, or dressing for pasta salad.
To help you make the best choice, WebMD went to the grocery store to find the 10 most satisfying salad dressings that won't blow your calorie budget -- whether you prefer creamy and vinaigrette. Here are the results of our taste test.
Best Vinaigrette-Style Salad Dressings
- Newman's Own Light Honey Mustard
This dressing has a wonderfully balanced flavor, with the honey and mustard flavors both coming through nicely. I found myself going back for more of this dressing during the taste test. It would also work well as a dip, spread, or marinade.
First 5 ingredients listed on the label: Water, Creole mustard, cider vinegar, sugar, soybean and/or canola oil.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): 70 calories, 4 g fat, .5 g saturated fat, 290 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate.
- (tie) Ken's Steakhouse Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette
Wish-Bone Light Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette
One of my all-time favorite salads is spinach with berries or apple chunks, sprinkled with walnuts or pecans and crumbled blue cheese and drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette. And one of my favorite dressings is Ken's Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette. For comparison's sake, I tested Wish-Bone's version of this dressing.
While I still like Ken's a tad better, the Wish-Bone option is a good one, particularly if that's the brand on sale. Both have a pleasant raspberry and vinegar flavor and just enough oil and sugar to balance all the different flavors.
First 5 ingredients (Ken's): Distilled vinegar, water, soybean and/or canola oil, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): 80 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 125 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate.
First 5 ingredients (Wish Bone): Water, soybean oil and extra virgin olive oil, sugar, corn syrup, vinegar
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Per serving (2 tablespoons): 80 calories, 5 g fat, .5 g saturated fats, 260 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate
3. Newman's Own Lighten Up Low Fat Sesame Ginger
This delightful dressing features two of my favorite flavors from Asian cuisine, sesame and ginger. It has just the right boldness, with a slight bite of spice at the end of every taste. I would use this dressing on an Asian-style salad or as a marinade or sauce for any Asian-style entrée or appetizer.
First 5 ingredients: Water, distilled vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, ginger pulp.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): 35 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 390 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrate
4. Kraft Greek Vinaigrette with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
If you love traditional Greek dishes, you're bound to like this salad dressing. The feta cheese isn't overwhelming, which gives all the other ingredients (like oregano, garlic, lemon, onion) a chance to contribute to the flavor.
First 5 ingredients: Water, extra-virgin olive oil, soybean oil, red wine vinegar, salt.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): 50 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 360 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate
5.Kraft Italian Vinaigrette with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
In this colorful dressing, all the different spices and vegetable flavors play together to bring you a bold but balanced version of Italian vinaigrette.
First 5 ingredients: Water, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, canola oil.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): 60 calories, 4.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 300 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate.
Best Creamy-Style Salad Dressings
(tie) Ken's Steakhouse Lite Creamy Caesar
Girard's Light Caesar Dressing
I'm a big Caesar salad fan. We have chicken Caesar salad for dinner about once a week (usually on those crazy Monday nights). Both of these dressings have a restaurant look and taste that will satisfy most Caesar salad lovers.
First 5 ingredients (Ken's): Water, soybean and/or canola oil, distilled vinegar, maltodextrin, Parmesan cheese.
Per serving: (2 tablespoons): 90 calories, 8 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 320 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate.
First 5 ingredients (Girard's): Water, soybean oil, corn syrup solids, corn-cider vinegar, Parmesan cheese,
Per serving (2 tablespoons): 90 calories, 8 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 370 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrate.
2. Marie's Lite Chunky Blue Cheese
If you like a creamy dressing with chunks of blue cheese swimming around in it, this will fit the bill. This one has a bit more intense blue cheese flavor than my second favorite light blue cheese dressing, Litehouse Lite Bleu Cheese. (If you like dressing with a little more cream and a little less blue, Litehouse is the choice for you). You'll find Marie's in the refrigerated dressing section of your supermarket.
First 5 ingredients: Water, cultured nonfat buttermilk, soybean oil, polydextrose, blue cheese.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): 80 calories, 6 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 280 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate.
- Marie's Lite Creamy Ranch
This extra-thick dressing is full of rich ranch flavor. You can see the herbs and spices throughout the dressing, which doesn't taste or look light.
First 5 ingredients: Water, cultured nonfat buttermilk, soybean oil, corn syrup solids, buttermilk solids
Per serving (2 tablespoons): 90 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 240 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate.
- Litehouse Salsa Ranch Dressing & Dip
At first glance it looks like Thousand Island, but this is actually what happens when a bottle of ranch dressing gets together with a bowl of chunky salsa. (The idea of this will either repulse you or send you to the nearest crisper to grab something to dip into the jar.)
I like both ranch dressing and salsa, but wasn't sure I wanted them to get all blended together. I was pleasantly surprised, though, when I dipped my baby carrot into this unique dressing. I might just have to look for some other ways to use it. You'll find Litehouse in the refrigerated dressing section of your supermarket.
First 5 ingredients: Cultured buttermilk, tomatoes, canola oil, water, sour cream.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): 60 calories, 5 g fat, .5 g saturated fat, 220 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate.
- Hidden Valley Ranch Light Sour Cream dressing
This dressing looks creamy, not synthetic. It has a pleasant ranch flavor that would complement any veggie platter or green salad.
First 5 ingredients: Water, soybean oil, maltodextrin, sugar, dried sour cream.\
Per serving (2 tablespoons): 80 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 270 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for WebMD and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.
Reviewed on September 03, 2009.
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