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Salad dressing reviews

If you have the basics, making your own salad dressing can be quick and easy.
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01.Introduction

salad-dressing_Lead

We review 36 popular Caesar, French and Italian salad dressings for nutrition and taste.

On this page:

A fresh salad teamed with the right dressing, becomes a light, tasty and healthy accompaniment to a meal. Salad dressings are simple to put together with everyday ingredients you’ll find in your pantry. 

However, take a look down the supermarket aisle and you’ll find a vast variety of dressings – boasting traditional recipes, fat-free alternatives, and seasonal flavour sensations. According to Retail World’s 2010 Annual Report, salad dressings are worth:

  • $79.4 million in grocery value and have 
  • 51.3% of market volume. 
  • 26.5 million units were sold.
  • Goodman Fielder (which manufacturers Praise and Paul Newman’s Own) and Kraft are the main brands in the category.

For more information about Groceries, see Food and drink.

Brands and dressings tested

Caesar
  • Beerenberg Creamy Parmesan Caesar Dressing (A)
  • Cardini's The Original Caesar Dressing
  • Coles Caesar Dressing with garlic and parmesan cheese
  • Coles Caesar Salad Dressing
  • Kraft Caesar (A)
  • Kraft Caesar 99% fat free (A)
  • Michaels Fine Foods Caesar Dressing (A)
  • Paul Newman's Own Caesar
  • Paul Newman's Own Creamy Caesar
  • Praise Caesar
  • Praise Caesar 99% fat free
  • Woolworths Select Salad Dressing Caesar
French
  • Kraft French Herb 100% fat free (A)
  • Kraft French Salad Dressing (A)
  • Michaels Fine Foods French Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (A)
  • Praise Deli Style with extra virgin olive oil French Vinaigrette
  • Praise French
  • Praise French 100% fat free
  • Taylors French Dressing
  • Woolworths Homebrand French Dressing 99% fat free
  • Woolworths Select Salad Dressing French 99% fat free
Italian
  • Coles Italian Salad Dressing
  • Kraft Italian (A) (B)
  • Kraft 99% fat free Italian Salad Dressing (A)
  • Maleny Cuisine Italian Style Salad Dressing (A)
  • Michaels Fine Foods Oil free Italian Salad Dressing (A)
  • Praise Deli Style with extra virgin olive oil Italian Herb Vinaigrette
  • Praise Italian
  • Praise Italian 100% fat free
  • Red Kellys Tasmania Italian Dressing (A)
  • Woolworths Homebrand Italian Dressing 99% fat free
  • Woolworths Select Salad Dressing Italian
  • Woolworths Select Salad Dressing Italian 99% fat free
(A) These products are gluten free.
(B) This product has been replaced with new packaging and slight changes to the nutritional and ingredients list information and is labelled Kraft Italian Salad Dressing. 

How we test

CHOICE reviewed three popular types from the major supermarkets and delis:

  • French salad dressings
  • Italian salad dressings
  • Caesar salad dressings

Nutritional assessment We analysed the nutritional panels of each applying our traffic light labeling criteria. The criteria is based on the latest nutrition recommendations and dietary guidelines established by government health experts in Australia and internationally.

Taste test We also conducted a blind taste test where each product was tasted by up to 35 (and no less than 30) CHOICE staff members. The samples were presented in a plain container with no brand identification and tasted in a random order. Each sample was accompanied with iceberg lettuce for tasting. Tasters were asked to consider the taste, flavour and overall acceptablity of each salad dressing using a scale of 1-7 (very poor to excellent) and whether or not they would buy it.  

What we found

Oil and seasoning (salt and pepper) are the core ingredients in all three dressing varieties we tested, so it’s not surprising that many products are high in fat and sodium. However, some are very salty, and half list sugar as one of the first three ingredients. The products in our What to Buy list rate best for taste, and are reasonable for sugar too. But go easy on how much you use – an average 20g serve size won’t contribute too much to your daily fat and sodium intake, but it could quickly add up if you’re heavy handed with the bottle. 

These pre-prepared dressings may appeal to consumers because of their convenience, but for the best taste and the ability to control the amount of salt added we recommend making your own. With basic ingredients you can whip up a simple salad dressing in no time allowing you to control what goes into it. Our home economist, Fiona Mair, shares some of her recipes on the French dressings, Italian dressings, and Caesar dressings pages.

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