Here’s Why Green Goddess Dressing Is Green and What It Has to Do with a Goddess

Gather ‘round, ye mortals, and listen well to the tale of a dressing most holy. Well, as holy as a dressing can be. The best green goddess dressing exists in the rarified air of the salad dressing pantheon, enthroned next to wizened balsamic vinaigrette, exuberant ranch, and other titans of the dressing world. It’s time for us all to learn what we can of the green goddess, so we can properly exalt its name through poetry.

What is green goddess dressing?

The legend of the green goddess begins not in Asgard or atop Mount Olympus, but in San Francisco, CA. In 1923, chef Philip Roemer created the dressing using techniques and ingredients inspired by the French sauce au vert, resulting in a green-tinted dressing. It is said that Roemer made it in tribute to actor George Arliss, the star of a long-running San Francisco play named, you guessed it, The Green Goddess. In the play, Arliss (not to be confused with the classic HBO show, Arli$$) plays the raja of a realm called Rukh, located in the Himalayas near India. After three British citizens crash there, he believes that they were sent by The Green Goddess as revenge for the execution of his brothers by the British.

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The play and subsequent film adaptations do not hold up to modern scrutiny (nor were they appropriate in their time). White actors are playing Indian characters, using terrible fake accents, and “The Green Goddess” of the story is a made-up colonization of the Hindu pantheon of deities. It’s unfortunate that the name of the dressing has so much baggage associated with it, but at least the play and films rightfully have fallen into obscurity, hopefully allowing the dressing to distance itself from its messy origins.

The dressing first became commercially available in the 1970s and has expanded into many different brands. Check out Sporked’s ranking of the best green goddess dressing you can buy to see a sampling.

What is in green goddess dressing?

The “green” part of the name is in reference to the dressing’s green tint which it gets from various herbs. Roemer’s original recipe included mayonnaise, vinegar, parsley or chervil, tarragon, chives, scallions, and anchovies. As the dressing grew in popularity, people put their own spin on it, adding anything from Worcestershire sauce, basil, and avocado, among other things.

Is green goddess dressing vegan?

While the traditional green goddess dressing is decidedly not vegan thanks to the mayo and anchovies, today brands have created vegetarian and vegan options, replacing the mayonnaise (and obviously anchovies) with avocado, tahini, or some other plant-based main ingredient. 

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What does green goddess dressing taste like?

In general, green goddess dressing has an herbaceous taste and aroma. It is tart and creamy like other mayo-based dressings, and can swing wildly between savory and sweet, depending on the ingredients used. 

What to use green goddess dressing for?

When asking yourself the question of what to put green goddess dressing on, your only limits are your own imagination. Obviously, it’s great on a salad. But it also accompanies seafood quite nicely; herbs like tarragon and parsley are often accoutrements to fish and crab. Avocado-based dressings work nicely on tacos and other Mexican food, offering a cool refresher to the heat of that cuisine’s spice. I’ve even seen it drizzled on a steak before, so go wild.

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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