Made from a combination of pesto, olive oil, lemon juice and mayo, this creamy Pesto Salad Dressing is going to add so much flavour to your salads, and something a little different. It's versatile too and the perfect summer dressing.
We are big fans of finding new ways to use cupboard staples and this recipe is one of our favourites. What we love about this pesto dressing is its simplicity. With just a few ingredients you can whip up a batch in no time and you can keep it as this creamy version or turn it into a vinaigrette.
It's also a healthier alternative to most store-bought salad dressings, which are often high in sugar, salt, and preservatives.
This salad dressing it light, full of flavour and it will instantly transform your salad - whether it's a light green salad or a hearty pasta salad.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Pesto - This is where all the flavour comes from, so you want to make sure you are using the best quality and homemade is always best. Why not try our Mixed Herb Pesto which is a great way to use leftover herbs or our Carrot Top Pesto? You can of course use a good quality store bought pesto too.
- Oil - A good quality extra virgin olive oil helps to thin out the pesto salad dressing.
- Lemon juice - Acid is added to the dressing to balance the oil and add flavour.
- Mayonnaise - This is optional, but we LOVE a creamy salad dressing. Just a little mayo adds creaminess, without taking away from the flavour of the pesto.
- Mustard - We used Dijon and it adds a little extra flavour.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make pesto salad dressing - Step by step
One: Put all of the ingredients into a bowl.
Two: Mix well to combine.
On a salad is the most obvious suggestion and it goes with pretty much any salad. We are loving the combination of eggs and pesto at the moment, so it was delicious drizzled over an egg salad.
But it also goes really well on a caprese salad. Layers of mozzarella and ripe tomatoes with pesto dressing drizzled over it is summer eating perfection. It also goes really well on our Winter Roasted Vegetable Salad.
Pesto - The main thing you can change about this dressing is the pesto itself. We used a green pesto, but sun-dried tomato pesto would work too. A kale or spinach pesto is good if you want a veggie boost.
Sweeter - If you want a sweeter version of this pesto salad dressing, then you can add a squeeze of honey or maple syrup to it.
Vegan - To make a vegan version of this, use your favourite vegan pesto (or make your own) and leave out the mayo or use a plant based version.
Lighter - You can make a lighter creamy version of this by using Greek yogurt rather than mayo. It will have a thicker consistency and be tangy, but it's delicious.
Hot - If you want a kick of heat in your dressing, then you can either add some chilli flakes or some diced jalapeños.
Vinaigrette - This is a thicker creamy pesto dressing, but if you wanted more of a thinner vinaigrette, then take out the mayo and add some vinegar. You can use balsamic or apple cider vinegar.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is best made fresh and luckily it is so quick and easy to make that you can just use as much as you need. However, if you do have leftovers then it will keep in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Give it a good stir before using again and if it has thickened then you can add some more olive oil.
No, we wouldn't recommend freezing this dressing. However, if you have leftover pesto then you can freeze it in ice cube trays and then defrost them a cube at a time to use in this dressing.
Recipes that use pesto
Pesto Salad Dressing
- 2 tablespoon Pesto
- 2 tablespoon Olive oil - extra virgin
- 1 tablespoon Mayonnaise
- 0.5 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 Lemon - juice only
- Put all of the ingredients into a bowl.
- Mix well to combine.
- Make sure the dressing is well mixed together. This ensures that the dressing is emulsified and does not separate. You can shake it all together in a well sealed jar for best results.
- If you want a thicker dressing, then don't add so much olive oil or lemon juice.
- If your dressing has solidified in the fridge because of the oil, then allow it to come to room temperature and give it a good shake in a sealed container.
- To ensure this is vegetarian, make sure that the pesto you use is a vegetarian/vegan brand.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.