Salad dressing takes your greens to the next level. From thick ranch dressings to light vinaigrettes, there are a plethora of different options to dress salads with, and it's imperative to know which dressings complement which ingredients best. Check out some of the most common and flavorful salad dressings, their attributes and which salads they pair with:

Italian Dressing

italian dressing in a bottle

Italian dressing is a vinaigrette-type salad dressing made from water, vinegar or lemon juice, chopped bell peppers, sugar or corn syrup and a mixture of herbs and spices for intense flavors. Depending on your preferences, you can add honey to counteract the acidity of the vinegar or lemon juice. If you want a thicker vinaigrette, the ingredients can be emulsified with vegetable oil to give the dressing a creamier consistency.

Caesar Dressing

caesar salad in a bowl

A standard Caesar dressing blends together anchovies, garlic egg yolks, mustard and olive oil to create a very thick topping. This dressing is ideal for a salad made from tougher greens such as romaine lettuce or even brussels sprouts. You can also add orange zest or lemon juice to add a touch of citrus that beautifully compliments the anchovies and garlic.

Ranch Dressing

ranch dressing in a bottle

Ranch dressing is not only fantastic for salads, but it's a popular choice as a dip for vegetables or chicken wings. The ingredients of ranch dressing are simple -- buttermilk, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, garlic onion are a great start. Herbs such as dill and parsley help diversify the flavor, and spices such as mustard seeds, cumin and coriander can add a kick to your ranch if desired.

French Dressing

French dressing in a bottle

This ketchup-based sauce mixes sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, onion and vegetable oil to create a sweet red sauce that has some acidity to help layer flavors. If you want a creamier dressing, simply add a touch of mayonnaise. This is the ideal dressing for those who like tangy flavors.

Thousand Island Dressing

thousand island dressing mixed in a bowl

The main ingredient in Thousand Island dressing is mayonnaise, which makes this sauce creamier than most dressings. What goes into Thousand Island varies from recipe to recipe, but common ingredients include olive oil, vinegar, mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and tomato sauce. Thousand Island dressings sometimes have finely chopped vegetables, pickles and nuts tossed in to give additional flavor and texture.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

balsamic vinaigrette dressing in a bottle

A simple dressing that's easy to make at home, balsamic vinaigrette combines olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to make a light topping for salads and vegetables that packs a nice acidic punch. By heating a large amount of balsamic vinaigrette over low heat for a few hours, you can evaporate the water in the vinegar and make a balsamic vinaigrette reduction, which has the consistency of syrup and is much more flavorful.

Honey Mustard Dressing

honey mustard dressing in a jar

Honey mustard is a popular topping for hot dogs, burgers, French fries and salads. The dressing combines olive oil, garlic and white vinegar with the staple ingredients of honey and mustard to create a sweet flavor that pairs well with both meats and greens.

Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

raspberry vinaigrette in a jar

Raspberry vinaigrette is very similar to a balsamic vinaigrette, but with two major additions -- raspberries and honey. These ingredients are blended together to create a wonderfully sweet dressing for salads and roasted vegetables, and it is also a great choice to help marinade steaks.

Blue Cheese Dressing

blue cheese dressing over vegetables

Blue cheese dressing is another great option for chicken wings and salads. The sauce is very creamy and made from blue cheese, milk, yogurt, sour cream and mayonnaise. The ingredients are mixed together with vinegar, garlic and onions to create a thick, flavorful dressing.

Poppy Seed Dressing

poppy seed dressing on a salad

Poppy seed dressing has many different uses aside from salads -- it can be used as a marinade, to top off fried foods or as a dip for vegetables and pickles. The dressing uses poppy seeds, red wine vinegar, vegetable oil and sugar to make a sweet, powerful topping that can be used in many dishes.

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