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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Recipe Rating




62 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The Catalina dressing is the BOMB! It takes more ingredients than I was expecting but the resulting dressing is killer.

  2. 5 stars
    Samantha,

    I also have a 5 heart home, but I'm the husband. I don't do nearly as much in the kitchen or house as my wife, but I dabble. I have to comment on your recipe. I did use Splenda in place of honey, as these dressings make a taco salad. I've really not enjoyed the thought of putting the High-fructose corn syrup on my salad, and I'm watching good my sugar intake.
    This is just like a store bought dressing, and to thicken, I added small amounts of Xanthum gum.,
    Your dressing is as close to, if not better than the REAL thing!
    Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge!

  3. 5 stars
    I made the French Dressing with ingredients I had on hand. It is easy to make and tastes great. I will be making this recipe again!

  4. 5 stars
    Thank soo much. I tried both and they are great. I've been looking for an easy and good recipe. Not looking anymore. My only concern is the garlic. I read to keep garlic in oil, if not use immediately, is dangerous and causes botulism. Is this true?

    1. Hi Olga! As long as you store your dressing in the refrigerator, the garlic will be fine. 🙂

    2. Olga wouldn’t the oil in the dressing be the same? (But I would assume refrigerating it would keep all ingredients from spoiling)

  5. 5 stars
    My daughter made your Catalina dressing for our venison taco salad and it was truly amazing!! Pretty confident we will never buy dressing again!

  6. 5 stars
    I was not a fan of French dressing but I had a another recipe that called for a small amount. I decided to make this since I had the ingredients on hand rather then buy a bottle. This dressing is so good it is now one of my go-to favorites. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  7. 5 stars
    French dressing hit the spot, vinegar gives it some zing. I was glad to find a recipe that used honey instead of white sugar and no ketchup. It has been saved!

  8. 5 stars
    There was a commercial brand of French dressing which I can't get any more. Not in our local stores, and ridiculous prices online. So I've been looking for a homemade substitute. The Catalina version that you give is good on sandwiches and the French version makes a nice change of pace on salads when I don't want one of my usual vinaigrettes. Because of the size of my salad shakers, I've had to reduce the ingredients to ⅓ of what's given above (½ is just a bit too close to overflowing), but it works just fine.

  9. Good Day, It often irks me when people reply before even trying the recipe, but like others, I had started to search for a copycat of Brianna's Zesty French Dressing. I started with the ingredient list on the bottle and planned to scan other French recipes for ratios, so I was glad that you saved me some time on that! What I did want to contribute to the discussion: I created a pasta salad where I put this dressing on warm (or cold) fettuccine pasta, and add green onions, sliced jalapeno black olives, and feta cheese. It's delicious. Just thought I would note that it can go beyond green salads... I look forward to trying your version.

  10. 5 stars
    I just made the French dressing and oh my, it is wonderful! It is also great that I keep all these ingredients on hand. Thank you!

  11. 5 stars
    I like the Catalina version because I like the tomato taste. Thanks for the two recipe's for french dressing. I just made the Catalina and it's Amazing!

  12. My kids have been asking for me to make french dressing. I can't wait to try both of these. Ingredients are now on the grocery list for next week!

  13. 5 stars
    How long would you say this will last in the fridge? I LOVED it but I dont know how quickly I'll be able to go through it.

  14. Oh my!!! I have been looking for a copycat recipe of Brianna's Zesty French (and haven't had the time to work out my own version). I will definitely have to try this! I love it on diced tomato salad with mushrooms and Perlini mozzarella balls.

    1. 5 stars
      Just made the Catalina, using (Heinz) Chili sauce, because I had no Ketchup, and Olive Oil instead of Canola: THIS DRESSING IS EXCELLENT AND A "NO FAIL"...you absolutely MUST try it!