Homemade French Dressing & Catalina Dressing

Jazz up your favorite salad with a homemade, sweet-and-tangy salad dressing, in both French Dressing and Catalina Dressing varieties!

Homemade French Dressing & Catalina Dressing in jars next to a taco salad, with text overlay.


 

I don't know about y'all, but after indulging in some of my favorite dips and appetizers during the big game yesterday, I feel like I need to cleanse this week with a barrage of smoothies and salads -- ha.

Two mason jars of French Dressing and Catalina Dressing, next to salad on a plate.

I try to make my own homemade salad dressing whenever possible, but when I'm short on time and buy a bottle from the store, I typically reach for a brand called Brianna's. This isn't an ad...I just like it because it tastes fresh and has pretty straightforward ingredients. Occasionally, Brianna's comes out with a new flavor, and one that we tried recently and really enjoyed is called Zesty French Dressing. It's simultaneously tangy and sweet, reminiscent of traditional French Dressing but better. So of course I had to try to recreate it myself at home. 😉

Lettuce leaf dipped into jar of homemade Catalina Dressing.

Tomato or Not?

I started out by perusing the ingredient list on the bottle, and then I studied a bunch of other online recipes for French Dressing.

The Brianna's version doesn't have tomatoes as an ingredient, but many other store-bought French Dressings do.

Even more confusingly, many people claim that French dressing should contain no tomato products, yet French Dressing recipes from the likes of Martha Stewart and Bon Appétit include ketchup or tomato paste.

And some will argue that French Dressing's similar-tasting cousin Catalina Dressing does include tomato in some form.

Basically, all of my French Dressing research yielded no consensus.

Close-up of Taco Salad on a plate.

French vs. Catalina

I first decided to attempt concocting a homemade French Dressing recipe with tomato undertones, via all-natural ketchup and a dollop of tomato paste. The resulting dressing was very tasty, but when I compared it to the Brianna's that I was originally trying to replicate, I could taste that the addition of tomato did cause it to differ.

Jar of Catalina Dressing.

So I tried again, omitting the tomato influence this time and tweaking some of the other ratios. The outcome was definitely much closer to Brianna's French Dressing...not identical, but decidedly delicious.

The first version I had created was tasty as well, however, so I refrigerated both dressings and put them to the ultimate family taste test that evening during dinner.

Jar of French Dressing.

The Verdict

And the final vote? The kids liked both varieties, but they slightly preferred the one with tomato.

My husband and I liked both varieties, but we slightly preferred the dressing without tomato.

And since I couldn't determine which one y'all would like best, I decided to offer you both recipes here today!

Let's call the one without tomato French Dressing and the one with tomato Catalina Dressing. Sound good?

Two jars, with French Dressing in foreground and Catalina Dressing in background.

Tips & Tricks

Since people have different opinions on how sweet this type of dressing should be, feel free to tweak the amount of honey. You can always start with a little and add more to taste.

Also, after I stored these dressings in the refrigerator, I noticed that the French Dressing version separated more readily than the Catalina Dressing, which likely had to do with the ketchup acting as an emulsifier in the latter. At any rate, the separation wasn't anything that a quick shake o' the jar couldn't fix.

Both of these dressings would be yummy on a simple dinner salad, but we particularly enjoy them on taco salad or any salad with Tex-Mex flavors. After all, sweet, zesty dressing is a delicious complement to certain types of ingredients, including taco seasoned meat, tomatoes, cheese, tortilla chips, and cool, creamy avocado.

Catalina Dressing being poured over a salad.

So there you have it...Homemade French Dressing and Homemade Catalina Dressing! You're totally free to pick your poison. 😉

And if you decide to try both, please let me know which one gets your vote!

Aerial view of salad and mason jars.

More Homemade Dressings

Jars of French Dressing and Catalina Dressing next to salad.

Homemade French Dressing and Catalina Dressing

Jazz up your favorite salad with a homemade, sweet-and-tangy salad dressing, in both French Dressing and Catalina Dressing varieties!
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 12 to 16 (2-tablespoon) servings. The recipe makes approximately 1 ½ cups of French dressing and 2 cups of Catalina dressing.
Calories: 127kcal
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Ingredients

FOR FRENCH DRESSING:

  • 1 large clove garlic
  • cup sunflower, safflower, or other light vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey, more or less to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Place garlic in a blender or small food processor; pulse until minced. Add oil, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon, paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Purée until well-combined. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste, if desired, and purée again. Transfer to a jar or bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Shake well before serving.

Equipment Needed

Video

Notes

FOR CATALINA DRESSING ~ Follow the same directions using the following ingredients:
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • ⅔ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup all-natural ketchup
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt (plus additional to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
* * * * * * * * * *
If desired, you may finely mince the garlic with a knife, place all of the ingredients in a large jar with a tight-fitting lid, and shake vigorously until well-combined.
Feel free to cut the ingredients in half for a smaller batch of dressing.

Nutrition

Calories: 127kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 156mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 80IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

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62 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made the French Dressing and all I can say is THANK YOU! This recipe reaffirmed my desire and belief FRESH is the BEST! Side note, don’t blend the ingredients otherwise you won’t get that beautiful reddish color, but rather more of the Dijon color.

    Lots of love to the Chef.

    Lisa- Foodie From NorCal