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
Print Pin Rate



  • 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


  • 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



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.


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


  1. 5 stars
    Since trying both recipes I’ve stopped buying store bought. So delicious! Also nice with noodle salad. I’m hooked.

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is the best for either dressing. It has more complex flavor by far than other homemade versions out there. For my own preference, I did approximately double the spices. I've ordered esplette and look forward to subbing it for the paprika. Thank you!

  3. Reading the article and recipe had my head spinning and I got so confused. Coming from a Midwest family with lots of heirloom recipes, I will stick with my family's recipe. French dressing should be sweet, tangy, and a little bit thick. Same with Catalina.

    1. "More or less to taste". Seems that part of the recipe would take care of the "sweet" and "thick" part of your comment. Adding a bit more lemon juice would make it tangier.

  4. 4 stars
    The first one is very tasty. But to me, it's more a vinaigrette. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it very much, but French dressing that I'm used to is much thicker. Now having said that, I'm going to add some tomato paste and maybe then some ketchup to see if it takes me closer to what's in my head. But it is really good. I'll let you know what I end up with.

  5. 5 stars
    Made the French Dressing recipe first, agreed with another poster or two in that I wanted thicker for my salad tonight, so I added the ketchup and tomato sauce, used smoked paprika (all I had), and used all cider vinegar (cleaned the coffee machine yesterday with the last of the white vinegar.. grr!), all the honey I had in the house (not quite the amount it needed, so I added a tbsp brown sugar..perfect amount of sweetness!), and blitzed the whole thing in the food processor.

    We shall consume vast quantities of this over this summer I guarantee! Tangy, sweetish, zingy and decently thick.. thank you all for the hints, tips, and thoughts..you definitely convinced me to try the two recipes..Catalina for the win! Off to stock up on more ingredients!

  6. 5 stars
    I made this recipe as Catalina with the tomato paste. In the beginning, I had my doubts, but as I had put all the ingredients in and blended, it was very similar to Wishbone Catalina Dressing. I made this for Taco Salad specifically, because red french dressing of any kind is hard to get where I live. I did add a little sugar and more black pepper to give it a tartier tang like Catalina. All in all, I would recommend it highly.

  7. 5 stars
    Wonderful dressing. Will make it again. I am on low sodium diet so left the salt out and it was still great. I made the catalina recipe.

  8. 5 stars
    I’ve made both of these now. (I cut the recipes in half.) I made the French first. It was just a bit too tangy so I added an extra 1/2 T of honey. It was excellent! Husband liked it a lot, too. My only complaint was how thin it was. Even so, I will be making it again. Yesterday I made the Catalina. I thought it wasn’t quite tart enough so I added 1/2 tsp of white vinegar. I love the consistency of the Catalina but I think the French has a slight edge over it flavor-wise. If the French were just a little thicker, it would be perfect. But they are both good and both worth trying. The French gets my vote. Keeper! Thanks for the recipes!

    1. I made the French dressing again today and it was actually thicker than the first time. I guess I did something wrong on my first attempt. 👍👍

    2. 5 stars
      Over the top delicious!
      Easy to follow recipes!
      Takes a macaroni based salad to the top!!
      Annnndddd.....both are fantastic marinades for chicken!!!! I should think they would be equally terrific for pork!!
      Thankyou so much for sharing your kitchen adventures!!!!

  9. Can you still find Briannas French? I typically make all my own dressings but that is one that I would buy in the bottle and when I ran out I as well tried to re-create it using the ingredients on the label. But then I threw the bottle out and I have never since been able to find Brianna’s French. I hope your recipe comes close…it’s is very exciting to find this!

    1. Now that you mention it, I haven't seen it in stores in awhile, so I just looked up the Brianna's website and don't see their Zesty French Dressing listed anymore! I guess they did away with it. 🙁 I hope you find this homemade version to be similar!

  10. 5 stars
    I made the French last night. Amazing!!! I added a pinch of cayenne (because I like things hot). Loved it.

  11. 5 stars
    This is "slap yo' Mama good!" Seriously, I even made a mistake when I made it. I accidentally used smoked paprika instead of regular. It didn't even matter. That dressing was amazing. And the first comment is right: if you make this, you will not want the store version EVER again!

    1. 5 stars
      I can't wait to try both versions this summer! I really appreciate how thoughtful these recipes are. Thank you very much.

  12. 5 stars
    I just completed the Catalina dressing, making it just as directed with the exception of using olive oil, since that's what I had on hand. It really tastes great - thank you for the recipe. I didn't half it, but I should of since I'm the only one in the house who likes french/catalina. Would it be possible to freeze half for later? Thanks again!

    1. White wine or red wine venegar might be a nice alternative between apple cider and white vinegar. I use red wine vinegar in many salad dressing, dips and marinades.

    2. As a consolation, apple cider vinegar is a natural preservative and is likely to last longer in the frig. The unfiltered type of cider vinegar is my favorite since the mother is included which is good for digestion.

  13. 5 stars
    Love the Catalina and French dressing. I made both because I couldn’t decide which I liked better. It’s a must for chef salad!

  14. 5 stars
    Super good and easy to make the French dressing I used olive oil and it seemed to get thick in the fridge