Don’t be fooled by the name: This reddish-orange salad topper is as American as dressings get. Big, bold French dressing actually comes from Pittsburgh and not its namesake European country—it was invented in 1925 as Kraft’s very first pourable dressing flavor.
While the store-bought variety can sometimes be too cloying, this homemade version has just the right amount of sour to balance out the sweet. The best part is, you can whip up this classic French dressing in minutes with ingredients you probably already have in your fridge and pantry.
The star ingredient? Ketchup. If you want it even creamier, feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of mayo.
What Is French Dressing Made of?
French dressing is a food defined by the Food and Drug Administration, which means there’s an official recipe of sorts. It’s defined as a blend or emulsion of vegetable oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and any of the following optional ingredients:
- Spices and/or natural flavorings (usually paprika, onion powder, and sugar)
- Tomato paste, tomato puree, or ketchup
- Eggs or mayonnaise
Catalina vs. French Dressing
Catalina dressing is similar to French dressing, but has less fat and more sugar. Catalina is a bolder shade of red and is runnier than French dressing. Unlike French, there’s no creamy version of Catalina.
How to Serve
While French dressing is traditionally served on iceberg or romaine salads, its sweet and sour flavor works well with more bitter greens, too, such as watercress and endive. And it doesn’t need to stop at leafy greens—use it to dress green beans or glaze cooked meatballs.
Makes 1 cup
- 1/2 cup neutral oil, such as vegetable, canola, or grapeseed
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the neutral oil, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, paprika, onion powder, and kosher salt in a blender. Blend until emulsified and creamy.
If you don’t have a blender, place all of the ingredients in a 2-cup Mason jar or other small container with a tight-sealing lid. Cover and shake vigorously until the dressing is emulsified.
The dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. Give it a good shake or whisk to recombine before each use.