Italian dressing is an obvious choice for green salads, and you can add it to pasta salads, use it to marinate chicken breasts, pork chops, and shrimp, or drizzle in a sub sandwich instead of oil and vinegar.
I almost always make my own Italian dressing. It’s so easy to shake together a jar of oil, vinegar, and seasonings. For a long time, I’ve been convinced that my homemade dressing is far better than anything I can buy at the store. That’s until I was assigned the task to find the best bottled Italian for Simply Recipes.
I hosted a taste test of store-bought Italian dressing with my family—it was a refreshing reality check and I found some tasty options I had been missing out on. Though I still like homemade dressing best, there were a couple of winners that I’d purchase and keep in the fridge.
The 7 Brands of Bottled Italian Dressings We Taste Tested
Let me tell you, it was not easy to whittle down the options at my grocery store to a manageable list of dressings to taste test! There are sooo many to pick from. Zesty, Tuscan-style, simply vinaigrette, with added cheese and without, fat-free, light, etc.—the descriptions are dizzying. I tried to filter out the noise and buy the most basic-sounding dressings that had the word “Italian” in the name from well-known brands that can be found across the U.S.
These are the seven bottles of Italian dressing we taste tested:
- Ken’s Steak House Simply Vinaigrette Italian
- Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
- Olive Garden Signature Italian Dressing
- Primal Kitchen Italian Dressing & Marinade
- Signature Select Italian Dressing & Marinade
- Trader Joe’s Organic Italian Dressing
- Wish-Bone Italian Dressing
How We Taste Tested the Dressings
I set out a big plate of crudités—carrots and broccoli—so that my parents, my husband, our three-year-old daughter, and I could dip them into each dressing. (Oh and by the way, a taste test is an awesome way to encourage little ones to eat some vegetables! We’re definitely going to do this again with all the dips in our fridge.)
The Two Winners I Would Buy Again
As was the case in our sweet potato fries taste test, my preschooler did not have any useful words to contribute. “I like all the salad dressings!” is the best I got. I did notice she gravitated toward the Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing the most, likely because it was the most garlicky and puckery. Though I wasn’t a fan, my husband wouldn’t mind eating it again.
To be completely honest, I would pass on buying most of these bottles again; however, two stood out to me as winners that I would buy again: Ken’s Steak House Simply Vinaigrette Italian and Primal Kitchen Italian Dressing & Marinade.
Ken’s Steak House has an extensive line-up of Italian dressings. I was drawn to the Simply Vinaigrette option since it has the fewest ingredients listed on the back of the bottle, and that turned out to be a good strategy. The flavor isn’t muddled or artificial—I could taste each ingredient, which was nice, including the salty cheese and herby dried basil.
Primal Kitchen’s dressing also has a short list of ingredients and tastes the closest to homemade. It’s dairy-free and vegan. It does cost twice as much as the other dressings for a bottle that is half the size. I guess there’s a reason for the price—it was good enough that I reached for the bottle a few times throughout the week to top salads. A quick tip: I did punch it up with a little extra lemon juice for brightness.