French salad dressings or vinaigrettes traditionally consist of a mixture of vinegar, oil and grain mustard. Additional ingredients like herbs and garlic can also be added, and this is common in the dressings you’ll find in the supermarkets.
Only the Michaels Fine Foods French Vinaigrette reflected a more traditional recipe. It includes Dijon mustard in its formulation.
All the French dressings except the Taylors get a red light for sodium. The Praise French 100% fat free, Woolworths Select and Taylors get a red light for sugar, and while Michaels Fine Foods is the only French dressing to get the green light for sugar, it’s also the only one to get the red light for total and saturated fat with 60.6 and 6.4 grams per 100g respectively.
Interestingly, from our taste test the top three brands are all fat free alternatives and the number one, Woolworths Homebrand is the cheapest of the bunch. On the other hand, two of the more expensive dressings, Michaels Fine Foods and Taylors, rank at the bottom of the list. In our analysis, we found that when it came to assessing taste and texture:
- Descriptors such as “smooth”, “herb”, “vinegar”, “sweet”, and “garlic” were associated with higher overall scores.
- Dressings that were described as “watery” tended to get lower overall scores.
- Taylors ranked at the bottom – 76% described its texture as “watery” – significantly more than the other dressings in the group. This dressing is also the sweetest in the group and 44% of triallists noticed, describing its flavor as “sweet”.
- Despite Michaels Fine Foods having a more traditional formulation, it wasn’t widely accepted among the tasting panel with only 17% giving it a positive rating overall. Some commented saying that it’s, “too creamy/heavy for a French dressing,” and “not quite what you expect from a French dressing.”
French dressing recipe
Making your own French dressing is so simple, allowing you to control the amount of salt you add to it. Here is Fiona’s recipe; at $1.37 per 100mL you can make a quick and easy French vinaigrette.
(makes one cup)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¾ cups olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake until mixture is slightly thickened.
Note: The dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. The oil will solidify but bring the dressing back to room temperature and shake well to bring it back to normal consistency.
This recipe contains per 100g:
Total fat - 72.1g (red)
Saturated fat - 10.2g (red)
Sugars - 0.04g (green)
Sodium - 29.6mg (green)
In comparison to the supermarket dressings, this recipe is the lowest for sugar and sodium. However it's the highest for total fat and saturated fat in comparison to the supermarket dressings. All the supermarket dressings (except Michaels Fine Foods) use water as their first ingredient which is why their formulations are lower in fat.