What Is Actually in That Bottle of Italian Dressing?

Whenever I eat a bowl of leafy greens with a few fresh vegetables sliced up and laid over them, I like to maximize my eating experience by dumping as much delicious creamy, tangy, flavorful, liquidy goop as humanly possible over them suckers. And today, we’re talking about one liquidy goop in particular: Italian dressing. Have you ever stopped to consider what Italian dressing is? Is Italian dressing the coastal elite holy trinity—gluten-free, vegan, and keto friendly? And does it ever go bad? Seriously, there’s a bottle that has been in my mom’s fridge for a while and I’m concerned.

What is Italian dressing? 

Italian dressing is a salad dressing (duh), usually a vinaigrette style, that contains a combination of oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and herbs and spices like oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. There are a ton of different recipes out there for homemade versions and the ingredients used in store bought Italian dressing can differ greatly, but other common ingredients include sugar, chopped bell pepper, corn syrup, honey, Italian seasoning, and red or white wine vinegar among others. There are creamy Italian varieties, as well, which include dairy products and shelf stabilizers. 

Back in the day, Italian dressing was the number one dressing in the United States. Then in 1983, shelf stabilizers allowed ranch dressing to be sold on the shelf at room temp, and by 1992, with the help of a certain Doritos flavor, ranch had taken the number one salad dressing spot from Italian dressing. Italian Dressing is also thought to be an American invention, with Ken’s Steakhouse and the Wishbone Restaurant both claiming its origin.

Is Italian dressing vegan? 

Yes, for the most part. If you’re making it at home, most Italian dressing recipes are vegan. And most Italian dressing at the store is vegan. But you have to read the label. Some brands could include milk, eggs, or parmesan cheese. Some may use honey as a sweetener. Some may have xanthan gum in the mix, which could contain sugars that come from whey. 

Is Italian dressing keto? 

Again, you’re going to have to read the label. If you’re making it at home, you can whip up a great, keto-friendly Italian dressing. But some store brands contain too many carbs, have too much sugar, and contain highly refined oils that keep them out of the keto playbook. 

Is Italian dressing gluten-free? 

Homemade Italian dressing should be completely gluten free. If you go to the store, you have to do that label reading. Some big brands, like Kraft Zesty Italian, are gluten free. But others may have thickeners or be prepared in facilities that contain wheat products.

Can Italian dressing go bad? 

Yes, of course Italian dressing can go bad. What do you think it is, some kind of magical food? Italian dressing can typically last for around three months without refrigeration and from between six and nine months in the fridge. You can also freeze it if you want to make that sucker last a really long time. Typically, the dressing will lose its flavor over time before any spoilage starts to set in. So, if it doesn’t taste like anything, throw it away and get a new one. Personally, I have never thrown Italian dressing away. I use exactly one bottle on every salad. And that’s why salad is my favorite food.

best italian dressing

Best Italian Dressing

Now that you know all about Italian dressing, find out what the best Italian dressing is. We guzzled Italian dressing to find the best store bought bottle for you.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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  • Great article on Italian dressing! It answers some common questions about the popular salad dressing and provides helpful information regarding its ingredients and shelf life.
    John Dawson