Bottled Salad Dressings Made With The Highest And Lowest Quality Ingredients

Green leafy salads are chock-full of nutritious ingredients that can help anyone trying to increase their intake of vegetables, fiber, and nutrients. Whether your goal is weight loss or overall health, salads are a tasty way to enhance your diet. However, you don't want to wreck that healthy green salad by slathering it in a low-quality bottled salad dressing that may be full of artificial flavors, additives, and food dyes.

You may not give bottled salad dressing much thought beyond the flavor, but some brands do a better job than others at delivering a high-quality taste with equally high-quality ingredients. Sometimes the best-tasting salad dressings have the fewest ingredients. A flavorful homemade vinaigrette can be as simple as oil, vinegar, and seasoning. But what you may find on the grocery store shelves could contain cheap additives instead of wholesome ingredients. Read on if you're interested in which bottled salad dressings offer the highest quality ingredients and which you might be better off avoiding.

Low: Great Value Light Ranch Dressing & Dip

The Great Value brand is a private-label grocery store brand created by Walmart. Great Value offers a wide variety of products, many of which are well-known national products that are rebranded and sold at a cheaper price for Walmart. Some manufacturers you may find under the Great Value name include Sara Lee, Conagra, and Kellogg's. Although Great Value has some high-quality brands at lower prices, it doesn't mean every product is a good choice.

Customers may enjoy the flavor of Great Value's Light Ranch Dressing & Dip, but that doesn't mean all of its ingredients are up to par. While examining the ingredients list, we found a long line of ingredients with hard-to-pronounce names, which is never a good sign for a food product. One of the most questionable ingredients on the list is titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is used in food and cosmetics to enhance white coloring. Though the FDA considers it safe for consumption, titanium dioxide has been banned by the European Union. The reason the EU has banned the product, and why other experts suggest avoiding it, is that we don't know enough about it yet to determine if it's carcinogenic or harmless. More long-term studies need to be done before its effects are truly understood. Until then, when you see titanium dioxide in your ingredient list, you may want to steer clear as a precaution, or certainly consume in moderation.

High: Follow Your Heart Ranch Dressing

If you're looking for a ranch dressing that isn't full of questionable additives and is vegan-friendly to boot, you will want to check out Follow Your Heart's Ranch Dressing. Follow Your Heart is a plant-based business that began in 1970. While its first product was dairy-free, egg-free mayonnaise, today, the company offers a variety of dressings, dips, and dairy-free cheeses. Even if you aren't vegan, you may want to give Follow Your Heart Ranch Dressing a try.

In addition to some rave reviews on Amazon from ranch dressing fans, the ingredients list is not crammed with additives. Instead, it contains whole ingredients such as olive oil, shelled hemp seeds, apple cider vinegar, and canola oil. We should note that this dressing does contain the additive xantham gum, commonly used for stabilizing and thickening. The good news is that this additive, unlike many others found in food products, has been heavily researched by scientists since the 1960s and is considered safe. If you really want to be sure you are eating wholesome ingredients, you can always make your own ranch dressing with this simple homemade ranch dressing recipe. It's as easy as adding all of the ingredients and whisking.

Low: Ken's Steakhouse Honey Mustard Dressing

Ken's Steak House Honey Mustard salad dressing tends to get high ratings for flavor. But great-tasting food doesn't always equate to high quality. The problem we have with Ken's Steak House Honey Mustard dressing is in the ingredients. Although it's not overrun with an excessive amount of ingredients that you often see in processed food, there are some additives that consumers may want to limit in their diet.

The first one we spotted is Calcium Disodium Edta. This is a popular food additive used to preserve color, texture, and flavor. The issue we have with Calcium Disodium Edta isn't that any studies show it can be cancer-causing, it's that there aren't many studies at all on this additive. The FDA has determined it's safe in certain amounts, but research is limited. Another ingredient in this dressing you may want to avoid is Yellow 5. This artificial food dye gives products their brightly colored hues. In Europe, products containing Yellow 5 must have the following warning label, "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." Research has shown young children who consumed treats with Yellow 5 scored higher on hyperactivity scales than those without.

High: Primal Kitchen Honey Mustard Vinaigrette & Marinade

It is possible to find a bottled version of honey mustard dressing that doesn't contain additives such as Yellow 5 or Calcium Disodium Edta. Primal Kitchen is a brand of condiments and dressings that strives to be more natural-based without a lot of additives. Primal Kitchen's Mustard Vinaigrette & Marinade has a short list of simple ingredients. The ingredients include items you would expect to find in a homemade version of the dressing such as avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, honey, lemon juice, and sea salt. We didn't even find the commonly added stabilizer, xanthan gum.

The dressing is also gluten-free and keto-certified (meaning it meets the standards of the ketogenic diet.) We also like that it's versatile and can be used as a dressing or a marinade. We highly recommend Primal Kitchen's Honey Mustard and suggest checking out the company's other salad dressings while you're at it.

Low: Kraft Zesty Italian Fat Free Dressing

You might expect a well-known brand like Kraft to have a high-quality salad dressing that consumers can trust. However, there are many reasons you may want to avoid fat-free dressing. To make up for the lack of fat, companies often include a long list of dubious ingredients to improve the texture and flavor of the product. Dieters may be pleased with the low-calorie content, but the sacrifice is potentially unhealthy ingredients.

A glance at the back of a bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian Fat Free Dressing shows us that it contains some controversial food dyes (Yellow 5 and Yellow 6), the additive Calcium Disodium Edta, and sucralose. Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is generally considered safe to consume in limited quantities. However, studies on sucralose are sometimes conflicting, and more research is needed to understand its long-term effects. Consumers may find it worth considering avoiding products with these artificial ingredients when higher-quality alternatives are available.

High: Good & Gather Organic Italian Dressing

Target's store brand, Good & Gather, has a wide variety of products, including organic options. When we looked at the ingredients for Good & Gather's Organic Italian Dressing, we found ourselves pleasantly surprised. Yes, there is added sugar and xanthan gum. But the other ingredients are a blend of soybean oil, vinegar, and seasonings with nary an artificial flavoring in sight.

We should note that the main ingredient in the dressing, soybean oil, is thought to be a generally healthy oil with mainly positive benefits. However, there is some conflict on the benefits of soybean oil, and research has turned up some possible downsides. Despite this, we recommend Good & Gather's Organic Italian Dressing with its simple list of ingredients containing no food dyes or controversial additives. In addition to the Italian Dressing, the brand carries other salad dressing flavors like Asian Sesame Vinaigrette and Organic Raspberry Vinaigrette, all of which are free from food dyes and contain very few additives.

Low: Kraft Green Goddess Dressing

Green Goddess dressing has a fascinating history, and its origin can be traced to 1923 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Chef Philip Roemer invented the creamy concoction to honor stage actor George Arliss, who, at the time, was staying in the hotel and performing in the play, "The Green Goddess." Today, the play is seen as outdated due to its racial insensitivities. Although the play should perhaps be left in the past, its namesake dressing is here to stay. The dressing is refreshing and creamy, packed full of fresh herbs, garlic, and tangy mayonnaise. That's why it is such a disappointment when we examine the ingredients of Kraft's Green Goddess Dressing.

Kraft Green Goddess Dressing contains the food dyes Yellow 5 and Blue 1. We should note that while the safety of Yellow 5 has been questioned, Blue 1 is generally considered safe to consume. We also found phosphoric acid, which is thought to be safe in limited amounts, but can cause health problems in large quantities. Additionally, the dressing contains the additives Calcium Disodium Edta and the ambiguous "natural flavor." Natural flavor may sound like a wholesome ingredient, but is actually a complex mixture created in a lab. All in all, Kraft Green Goddess Dressing contains too many additives for us to consider it a high-quality dressing.

High: Trader Joe's Green Goddess Salad Dressing

In our search for a green goddess salad dressing with simple ingredients and a fresh tangy flavor, we came across Trader Joe's Green Goddess Salad Dressing. The ingredients list contains common items you might expect from a homemade dressing such as apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and spices. Because the dressing is vegan, avocado is subbed for the traditional mayonnaise.

We applaud the lack of artificial additives and food dyes. There are also no added sugars, keeping the calorie content low. The one downside we found is that the dressing is only sold in Trader Joe's stores, which may not be convenient for everyone to purchase. If you find yourself in a Trader Joe's, you may want to check out some of the other salad dressings on the shelf that boast equally wholesome ingredients such as Vegan Creamy Dill Dressing and Vegan Caesar Dressing.

Low: Signature Select Caesar Dressing

Signature Select is an Albertsons Companies store brand and can be found at various grocery retailers including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, and Jewel-Osco. The brand makes a bottled Caesar dressing which is a convenient way to dress your Caesar salad, rather than taking the time to make a homemade version. The key to authentic Caesar dressing lies in the two main ingredients: anchovies and egg yolks. 

Though Signature Select Caesar Dressing contains both of these, it's also full of additives, preservatives, and both natural and artificial flavors. One of these is the flavor enhancer, monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG is generally considered safe, but some people have been found to have uncomfortable, although short-term, reactions to consuming it. Along with MSG, we see a long list of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce, and though they may be considered safe in general, it's just too many additives for us to consider Signature Select Caesar Dressing to be high-quality.

High: Annie's Organic Caesar Dressing

It is possible to find a bottled Caesar dressing that isn't full of preservatives or added sugar. Annie's is a brand known for its organic products including boxed macaroni & cheese, granola bars, cheddar bunny crackers, and gummy fruit snacks. Annie's also carries a line of organic salad dressings, including the Organic Caesar Dressing.

What we like about Annie's dressings is the limited amount of additives in the ingredients. Though we do see the Caesar dressing contains xanthan gum and cellulose powder, these are relatively minor offenses. Otherwise, the dressing is mainly full of items such as canola oil, apple cider vinegar, and parmesan cheese. However, we should point out that the dressing contains "natural flavor," although we are told anchovies are used in the natural flavor. Considering the amount of food dyes and flavor enhancers we've seen in other salad dressings, we can give Annie's a pass for the "natural flavor" ingredient.

Low: Wishbone Light Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Wishbone's Light Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette Salad Dressing certainly sounds healthy. How can you go wrong with a light raspberry vinaigrette that contains heart-healthy nuts? Unfortunately, you can go very wrong when the ingredient list contains food dyes, additives, and artificial sweeteners, especially considering that vinaigrette is typically a simple dressing made with few ingredients.

One red flag on the list is the artificial sweetener stevia. Although considered generally safe for consumption, and perhaps a better alternative to sugar, it can affect blood sugar levels when combined with the sweetener, maltodextrin, which is also one of the dressing's ingredients. The dressing also contains the additive Calcium Disodium Edta and the food dyes, Red 40 and Blue 1. In Europe, food containing Red 40 must have a warning label that it may cause hyperactivity in children. The thing we don't like about food dyes is that they don't enhance the flavor or the nutritional value of a product, but are only used to make the food appear a certain color, making it hardly worth the risk. Overall, this dressing has too many additives to be considered a high-quality product for us.

High: 365 Whole Food Market Organic Fig Balsamic Salad Dressing

On the other hand, 365 Whole Foods Market Organic Fig Balsamic Salad Dressing lives up to its healthy-sounding name. The ingredients list stays simple with all of the things you would expect in a balsamic fig dressing such as balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, and fig purée. We do see the stabilizer xanthan gum, and also a small amount of added sugar in the form of organic cane sugar. However, this dressing remains an overall good choice with its short list of ingredients. Besides, the overall added sugar is only 3 grams per serving.

The downside is the dressing can't be bought at all grocery stores. However, we were able to find it for sale online at Amazon as well. Reviews on Amazon were mainly positive for the taste of the dressing, with only a few stating the dressing was thin and didn't cling to salad leaves. Looking at the ingredients, the dressing doesn't contain any oils. Overall, we find this a good choice for those wanting a light, flavorful option to dress their salad.


Bottled salad dressings with the lowest and highest quality ingredients were based on a careful review of ingredient lists. To find high-quality dressings, we were on the hunt for products with minimal ingredients, the ones most likely to look like an ingredient list for a homemade recipe. On the other hand, low-quality dressings were full of long lists of dubious ingredients including artificial flavors, colors, and other additives. We know there are many choices out there for bottled salad dressing and this isn't a complete list. We also know you may not agree with all of our designations, but we hope you've walked away with some new information to help make your choice the next time you're in the grocery store.