Salads are a great way to add extra vegetables and nutrition into your diet. But, salad dressings can be sneaky.
Many store-bought dressings contain added sugar and often include various artificial ingredients that aren’t particularly good for you.
This is a significant problem on the keto diet.
You need to find keto salad dressing options, so you can be sure your salad dressing won’t kick you out of ketosis. Thankfully, there is a range of choices out there. Some of these are products that you can buy from the store. Others are dressings that you can make at home.
Trustworthy Store-Bought Brands
A keto diet often focuses on food that you make yourself. That’s great – and it is always the best choice for health. But, there are also times where you want to take a shortcut.
Salad dressings are one good way to do so. After all, you’re already getting a wide range of fresh ingredients in the salad itself. The following salad dressings all work especially well on a keto diet (or with any other low carb approach).
Primal Kitchen is focused on being paleo and Whole30 suitable. But, many of their products are perfect for keto diets as well. That’s because the brand heavily relies on natural ingredients and avoids added sugar or sweeteners.
A particularly good choice is their Ranch Dressing (pictured), which is made with avocado oil. It includes ingredients like apple cider vinegar, cage-free eggs, onion powder, chives and black pepper. A 2 tbsp serving contains 2 grams of carbs.
They also have a Caesar dressing and a Lemon Vinaigrette, each with 2 grams of carbs per serving. There are other types too. Just be sure to check the ingredients labels carefully, as some of their dressings are better for keto than others.
TessaMae’s is another interesting brand, which also has a Whole30 focus and various products to choose from. The most notable aspect is that most of the dressings have 1 gram of carbs per serving, or less (servings are 2 tbsp). The products are also organic and focus on healthy ingredients, like various spices, lemon juice and cage-free eggs.
There are also some interesting options to consider. For example, some of the dressings are available in individual pouches, which makes them very portable. There is also a collection that features full-size bottles of 6 different dressings.
Marzetti Avocado Ranch
As the name suggests, this ranch dressing relies on avocado as a key source of flavor. It also just has 1 gram of carbs per 2 tbsp serving and uses whole food ingredients, including extra virgin olive oil.
However, the Marzetti dressing does rely on canola oil, which isn’t ideal. As Healthline explains, canola oil isn’t nearly as healthy as many people assume, although it isn’t as bad as soybean oil either. As you’re only using a small amount of salad dressing at a time, this inclusion may be fine. Still, it is something to be aware of.
The same brand has some other dressings too, including vinaigrettes and other creamy options. Check the labels carefully on these. Many are low in carbs, with just 1 or 2 grams per serving. But, some have around 4 grams of carbs, which is too much for most keto dieters.
Ken’s Steakhouse Buttermilk Ranch
The biggest advantage here is the carb count, at just 1 gram per serving (servings are 2 tbsp). Reviews also suggest that the dressing tastes especially good, even for people who are picky about their dressings. It is also an easy product to find and many grocery stores will stock it.
However, the ingredient selection isn’t as good as Primal Kitchen. For example, the dressing relies on soybean oil and also includes maltodextrin and natural flavor.
Whether this dressing works depends on your priorities. Many keto dieters do love it, especially if their focus is on flavor and convenience. But, many others would prefer a healthier product that is less processed.
The Creamy Caesar Dressing from the same brand is also incredibly popular, with 1 gram of carbs per serving.
This is another interesting brand, which you’ll mostly find online. The dressings are promoted as being low in calories and have 0 carbs per serving. The brand uses stevia as a sweetener.
The dressings are lighter than the other examples on this list, so they’re not as creamy and they’re lower in fat too. That aspect isn’t the best for a keto diet. Even so, there may be times where you will want a lighter dressing and plenty of other opportunities to get healthy fats in your diet.
Things to Watch Out For
Many other dressings will be keto, simply due to the combination of ingredients. You can normally figure this out by looking at the ingredients label and the nutritional details.
There are also a few things to keep in mind. These aren’t strict rules, but they’re still relevant if you’re trying to promote your health.
Keep the Serving in Mind
Ingredient labels can be deceptive. For example, a label that says it contains 0 grams (or is sugar-free) can still have up to 0.49 grams of sugar per serving (1).
What’s more, most salad dressings have a serving size of 2 tablespoons. If you’re using a significant amount of dressing per salad – your carb intake can quickly add up.
Watch the Ingredients
Regardless of the nutrition label, it’s best to steer clear of any salad dressings with added sugar, high fructose corn syrup or anything like that.
It’s also ideal to avoid dressings with a large number of added ingredients, as much as possible. Pay particular attention to terms like ‘artificial flavors’ or ‘natural flavors’, as companies don’t need to disclose what the specific ingredients are.
Instead, look for products that have shorter ingredients labels and use non-processed ingredients, like lemon juice and garlic powder. The dressing is never going to be a healthy as something you can make at home – but still try to get as natural as possible.
Some sugar-free products rely on sugar alcohols instead of sugar. Sugar alcohols are still a type of carb but they’re mostly undigested in the body.
The key phrase here is mostly. Sugar alcohols can still cause insulin and blood sugar spikes for some people. You may also experience side effects if you consume them too often.
For the most part, sugar alcohols are fine on a keto diet. But, be aware of your consumption. If you’re getting them from multiple sources, you may need to look for alternatives.
Look for Full-Fat Options
As a general rule, full-fat salad dressings should be lower in carbs. This won’t always be true, but they’re less likely to include added sugar. In contrast, anything advertised as low calorie will often have extra carbs.
Making Your Own Keto Salad Dressing
As the earlier list shows, there are plenty of store-bought options for keto dressings. There are many others that are low in carbs as well.
But, the ingredient choice often isn’t ideal. Instead, you often see ingredients like canola oil, maltodextrin, soybean oil, natural flavors and sugar.
The best way around this is to make your own. Many people will prefer this idea anyway.
After all, preparing your own food gives you more control over the ingredients. You can always tweak the recipe to suit your taste preferences or the specific salad that you’re making.
There are many great recipes out there and we can’t feature them all. But, this section highlights some of our favorite choices.
Vinaigrettes are simple and versatile salad dressings, normally made by mixing oil with an acidic ingredient. So then, it’s not surprising that there are many different keto vinaigrette recipes.
Some of them are fairly simple, while others have more complex flavors. You can click on the title to view the full recipe.
This recipe comes from Perfect Keto and takes less than five minutes to prepare. The combination of ingredients creates a fresh and vibrant dressing that would work on many different salads. A 3 tbsp serving contains just 1 gram of net carbs.
This recipe from ruled.me does use raspberries but it is very low in carbs. You’re just looking at 0.29 grams of net carbs for a 2 tbsp serving, which is pretty impressive. One unusual aspect is that this recipe relies on golden raspberries, which should create an amazing (and unusual) flavor profile.
I found this recipe at Low Carb Yum. It uses an unusual flavor combination, but that’s never a bad thing. The blue cheese also means that you’re adding in some extra fat – perfect for keto. A 44 gram serving of this dressing contains just 0.3 grams of net carbs.
Creamy Salad Dressings
These recipes follow a different style. But, they still make fantastic salad dressings.
As the name suggests, this salad dressing is very easy to make. It only takes a few minutes to throw together and uses a handful of ingredients. The recipe is from Ditch the Carbs, which is a particularly good source of low-carb and keto recipes.
Because of the ingredients used, this recipe actually contains 0 grams of carbs per 20 gram serving. This will be a rounded down figure. So, you should still be careful about how much of the dressing you use at a time.
KetoDietApp hosts this salad dressing. It is a more complex recipe than previous examples. But, the end result makes this one worth the extra effort. The recipe also includes some notes about substitutions, so you can tweak it to match your flavor preferences. A 2 tbsp serving of the dressing contains 0.8 grams of net carbs.
This keto dressing comes from the site Two Sleevers. Not only is it keto and low carb, but the recipe is also gluten-free and paleo-friendly. The mustard adds a nice flavor to the finished dressing, making it a particularly versatile choice. With this recipe, a 2 tbsp serving contains 1 gram of carbs.
If you want something a little more unusual, this recipe from The Nourished Caveman is a good one to try. It makes use of a product called Keto Butter (from Perfect Keto), although you could use almond butter instead.
There are some other interesting ingredients too, which make this a particularly healthy salad dressing. The dressing is also very low in carbs, with a ¼ cup serving containing just 1.1 grams of net carbs.
Useful Salad Dressing Ingredients
Recipes vary depending on the type of salad dressing that you’re making. But, there are some particularly powerful ingredients that you can use. These are all appropriate for keto.
At the end of the day, a homemade dressing will always give you more control over your diet – especially if you rely on natural ingredients.
This is critical if you’re struggling to enter ketosis. As the site KetoDietApp points out, there are many sources of hidden carbs. Even a few of these could noticeably increase your carb intake.
But, for people more confident in their keto habits, store-bought dressings may be just fine. The brands listed earlier are good choices and they’re perfect on a keto diet.
Buying a pre-made dressing from the store does certainly save time. This can be a critical benefit, especially if your day-to-day life is hectic.
As is always the case, the answer is to pay attention to your diet and your body, then choose the option that works best for you.
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