German Salad Dressing ♥

So who says you can't make salad dressing?
Today's recipe: Milk. Vinegar. Sugar. No more. No oil! Low carb. Weight Watchers zero points.

It gets no easier than this. When my brother-in-law visited over Christmas, he mentioned the salad dressing that his mother, a World War II German war bride, makes all the time. They call it 'German Salad Dressing'. Me, I'm tempted to dub it "salad dressing for dummies" because it has just three ingredients.

Three ingredients.

And it's got me to thinking. Why in the world do we buy bottles of salad dressing when it's this cheap and simple and tasty to make? So I'm launching a new series of occasional posts with collections of simple classic recipes for home cooks who want to feed their families economically and healthfully. Look for the first one tomorrow. I'm calling it "Never Buy Salad Dressing Again". Who will take the challenge?

FREE ICONS for BLOGGERS Share your love of fresh produce, whether from the farmers market, your own garden or even a CSA farmbox. Four icons celebrate fresh local vegetables and fruits -- and my fellow bloggers are invited to use them on their own blogs. Here's more information about the free icons for bloggers.

~ more salad dressing recipes ~
~ more five-minute recipes ~
~ more Weight Watchers recipes ~
~ more low-carb recipes ~


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 5 minutes
Makes 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons)

1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons good vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar (or honey)

Whisk together.

The dressing is especially good with soft lettuces such as Boston, red leaf and green leaf.
For aesthetics, use a clear or light-colored vinegar versus a dark balsamic vinegar.

PRINT JUST A RECIPE! Now you can print a recipe without wasting ink and paper on the header and sidebar. Here's how.

NEVER MISS A RECIPE! For 'home delivery' of new recipes from A Veggie Venture, sign up here. Once you do, new recipes will be delivered, automatically, straight to your e-mail In Box.

Do you suffer from lachanophobia? Turn to A Veggie Venture and Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg for the best vegetable recipes online. Find a quick recipe for tonight's vegetable in the Alphabet of Vegetables or plan menus with vegetables in every course. If you're a dieter, turn to hundreds of zero-point, one- and two-point Weight Watchers recipes and many low carb recipes.
© Copyright 2008

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Do you have a recommendation for "good vinegar?" Thanks, Alanna!

  2. Even though it's a bit on the dark side, I'd love to try this with my lovely Spanish sherry vinegar. And agave nectar in place of the honey, maybe?

  3. M ~ Great question. What I really mean by "good vinegar" however, is anything other than the standard harsh white vinegar. It should be one that is delicate and flavorful enough that you actually enjoy a tiny sip.

    I do wish it were easier to 'find' a good vinegar without shelling out $$ for just plain harsh vinegar gussied up with a pretty label and shapely bottle, which many of them are.

    I've been soo lucky to have been gifted gorgeous vinegars and olive oils from O Olive Oil. They're not inexpensive but they are consistently reliably DELICIOUS.

  4. This sounds great! My Pennsylvania Dutch grandparents used to use vinegar, sugar and water as a dressingon a delicious tomato salad...

  5. I may be being extremely dense, but how does:
    1/2 tablespoon milk
    2 tablespoons good vinegar
    2 tablespoons sugar (or honey)

    make 12 tablespoons of dressing?

    Sounds like a good recipe, though! My mom always made our salad dressings, although they had oil in them.

    I really enjoy your recipes!

  6. Wendryn ~ Um, because I goofed? It's a half cup of milk, not a half tablespoon. GOOD catch, thank you, thank you!

  7. I might try it with soy milk. Glad you enjoy the scrutiny :-)

  8. I am going to watch this series closely. Bottled stuff have weird flavours too. Time-saver is not an argument with bottled dressings. A simple lemon vinaigrette takes the same time as opening a bottle. You can make this an one time event to see what people come up with.

  9. I'm totally with you on making your own salad dressing. Always better than bottled!

  10. Alanna - I'm intrigued with the salad dressing. I have a distant memory (this would be back in the 1960's) going to a picnic in Montana, of all places. The family had German roots, although the food was generally just American food. But, the hostess had made a cole slaw, I think it was, and she had a small can of evaporated milk. She poured some into a bowl, added some vinegar and sugar and mixed it - she said the vinegar curdled the milk so it got thick. I watched her make it, but never wrote down proportions. I've had fond memories of that dressing all these years, but didn't remember how she did it. Will have to try this one and see. Thanks. And, thanks for all the great stories - always enjoy reading your blog.

  11. I was intrigued by this simple recipe and made it twice. Unfortunately, it is very liquid, no thickness or creaminess at all, and doesn't cling to the salad. Is this how it's supposed to be? Are you maybe using whole milk? I used 2%.

  12. Hi Rachelle ~ Yes I do use whole milk which would have a small bit more fat. But the dressing isn't really a 'clingy' one, I'd call it a 'wetting' dressing.

    It might be that a low-fat, non-clingy dressing isn't to your taste, maybe?

    Since I've been playing with salad dressings, I've learned to appreciate more and more the different styles of dressings. This is definitely among the simplest.

    But it's also furthest along the scale from the heavy gloppy dressings that we buy at the grocery. You might experiment with different consistencies of dressings to find your own style. Let me know!

  13. Thank you so much for this recipe. I grew up in Germany and have always tried to recreate the ubiquitous bib/celery root/cucumber/carrot salads but never have been able to figure out the dressing. Hard to believe it was this simple! Thanks!

  14. I just came back from Germany a few weeks ago, and every leaf lettuce salad I had came with this dressing. It is exactly the dressing my grandmother (from what is now the Westphalia region in western Germany) used to make. I Googled "German salad dressing" and the first hit was this very page. Your recipe is close to the original, but not quite. Regular milk is too thin. You need either condensed milk (which I think is what my grandmother used) or half and half. The authentic version uses cider vinegar. If your greens are a bit on the bitter side, just up the sugar. This dressing does not store well, so just make what you will need for immediate use.

  15. Elisha in StuttgartDecember 29, 2009

    I have been in Germany for 2wks and as some have mentioned every salad I have had has been amazing. My husbands mother is from Germany and her dressings are very good but these over here....amazing! I could eat it everyday. I literally just attempted my own, which is not even close, hence why I looked it up and found your site. I will try and make it for dinner. I have red wine vinegarette? not sure how that will turn out. Also, has anyone tried Splennda instead of real sugar?
    Thx again!

  16. Hi, wondered whether you could help. We we were in Germany with the Armed Forces we use to visit a pub outside of RAF Wildenrath called affectionaly the 1st post and 2nd post..they use to do a delicious dressing for their salads and i was told it was made with oil, vinegar, lemonade and sugar..but was not told the proportions...would be great if you know of this dressing. thanks

  17. Hi Sandy, Sorry, no I don't know that recipe. But if I were to try to make one up, I would start with about a tablespoon of lemonade, then add a little vinegar for sharpness, then whisk in a little olive oil to taste. For extra sharpness, I might use frozen lemon concentrate. Either one would have plenty of sugar, wouldn't think you'd need more. Then to make it savory, I would season with salt and pepper ... good luck, hope this helps!

  18. AnonymousJuly 24, 2010

    Your German salad dressing is a little too simple. There are some spices in the authentic stuff. Just vinegar and sugar makes it incomplete.

  19. Anonymous ~ What spices belong in German Salad Dressing? I'd love to know your version!

  20. Use Salata, a seasoned German salad vingear. You can find it in the International section of your supermarket. FYI - other brands (even German/imported brands) do not compare.

  21. Thanks for the German salad dressing recipe - I couldn't believe it was so easy! We were stationed there many years ago and just got back from a trip there a couple of days ago, and I love their standard salad dressing. I have several times googled it, but in German, and never found a recipe until I tried it in English and found yours. No wonder I couldn't find a recipe in German. It's so simple they probably think everyone knows it! Thanks again -

  22. Some little "secrets" depending on which family:

    * cider vinegar. Let it sit in the milk for 3 minutes undisturbed. Jerez Sherry Vinegre makes this a whole different dressing from another country. (also yummy)

    * whole milk (thin dressing), half whole milk and half cream, half-n-half, or canned condensed milk (very heavy) - buttermilk works really well too. Don't whip it, just blend it.

    * sugar, honey, molasses, agave, etc... doesn't matter which but stir it in last and it'll cut the sharpness of the vinegar. Taste it before you add sugar - vinegars and milks differ. Too sharp? Add more sweetener.

    * add pepper, caraway, ginger, a drop of Maggi, juniper berry, garlic, (not all of them, just what you like) to taste. It's also fine plain.

    * finely chop some garlic, bell peppers, and onion and add in and chill for an hour - yummm

  23. Ray - thanks for all the family secrets! Your note was extra-timely, I was in the midst of making salad for a dinner party and thinking my plan was too heavy. Enter your notes - I made a version with buttermilk, sherry vinegar, agave and the crowning touch, a little dried ginger. Can't wait to try it with caraway. THANK YOU!!

  24. Wondering if I could substitute Greek yogurt for the would probably make the dressing tangier, but also thicker. I'll make it as recommended first, then tinker with it.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna