This creamy and zesty Vegan Italian Dressing is the perfect easy dressing for any salad. Quick, nut-free, and totally delicious, this sauce is a great go-to sauce that’s much more exciting than vinegar and healthier than any store-bought dressing.
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Hey Internet, I’ve really been feeling salads lately. We recently tested an apple cake recipe. I liked it a little too much so I started playing around with some salad.
I came up with a new and super quick Italian salad recipe, so I thought I should come up with a vegan Italian dressing as well!
This dressing is super zesty, tangy, creamy, and utterly delicious. Mr. Zardyplants and I were BOTH licking the bowl after lunch every time we made this!
This sauce can also be used as a dipping sauce for veggies, as well as in wraps, sandwiches, and more. It also only takes 5 minutes to make!
Unlike most of my creamy sauce recipes, this dressing is not tofu based, it’s actually made of sunflower seeds! Tofu will work if you want, and so will cashews, but sunflower seeds are a yummy and less expensive alternative that I highly recommend for this recipe.
If you’ve ever looked at a bottle of Italian dressing at the store, it has a lot of different ingredients, some more obscure or vague than others. Natural and artificial ingredients? Why don’t they have to say what these are?!
Not to mention, the only vegan Italian dressing at the store is the non-creamy kind. This recipe is actually a great hybrid: it’s creamy but it’s also just as zesty and tangy as the regular kind.
I am so obsessed with this dressing and thrilled to share it with you today. So… let’s get into it!
What You’ll Need
I already mentioned you’ll need sunflower seeds. I recommend using raw but roasted will be fine too. If yours come salted, add less salt to this recipe.
If you’d like to use something other than sunflower seeds, see the substitutions section below.
For tanginess, I used a combination of lemon juice and white wine vinegar. You can use just one of these, but I really liked the flavors that both contributed. Lemon is fresh and citrusy (duh) while white wine vinegar is crisp and has a great bite to it.
Agave (maple syrup works too) lends a little sweetness which balances out the sour from the lemon and vinegar.
Dijon mustard seems like a strange addition, but I LOVE the kick it gives. It’s not spicy, actually it’s a little sweet, but mustard has a little zest and tang to it. It’s optional, but I think it lends a lot of flavor.
Finally, I added a few extra flavors to round it out: garlic (fresh or powdered), Italian seasoning (a blend of Italian herbs), and a little salt.
If you’re looking for a great small business to support and an awesome place to order your herbs from, I highly recommend The Spice House. You can order in bottles or flatpacks. Here’s a discount link for The Spice House if you’re interested.
What Substitutions Can I Make?
You can use raw or roasted sunflower seeds. I personally like to use raw sunflower seeds as I feel they are a little healthier and more neutral.
But if you’d like to substitute something else, try soaked cashews (use a half cup), tofu (use half a 16 oz block), or white beans (use ¾ cup).
Lemon or White Wine Vinegar
You can choose to leave one of these out, or sub another vinegar in its place. Any neutral vinegar should work, such as white vinegar or rice vinegar. Red wine vinegar would also work.
You could use a good quality maple syrup (grade A & organic) instead of agave if you’d like. Or try throwing in a pitted date or a pinch of any other sugar. Feel free to omit, but I do like a little sweetness to balance the acidity in this recipe.
I wouldn’t recommend another mustard in the place of Dijon as they can be much stronger in flavor. You could try a little powdered mustard seed or just omit the ingredient.
How to Make Vegan Italian Dressing
If you don’t have a high powered blender like a Vitamix, I’d recommend soaking your sunflower seeds for about 10-15 minutes in hot water and draining the liquid before blending with the rest of the ingredients.
So first, add your lemon juice, vinegar, and water to the blender. It’s usually good to add the liquids first.
Then add the sunflower seeds, Dijon mustard, salt, agave and garlic cloves or powder. Do not add the Italian seasoning right now unless you want it liquified (if you do it by accident it’s ok. You’ll have slightly green or brownish Italian dressing but it will still taste good).
Blend until smooth and taste. Adjust anything you want now and re-blend if needed.
Add the Italian seasoning and pulse the blender a few times until the herbs are well mixed.
That’s it! Use it right away or refrigerate until needed. It will keep for up to 5-7 days in the fridge in an airtight container (I like to use mason jars).
What is Italian Dressing Used For?
Primarily Italian dressing is used for salads. Any salad can be brightened and fun with a great dressing like Italian, but I especially recommend it with this vegan Italian salad that reminds me of the one I used to love from Olive Garden.
Italian dressing is also great as a marinade for vegetables, vegan meat, in pasta salads, for stir frys, and in wraps or sandwiches!
Want More Easy Vegan Sauces?
Are you kind of saucy? I am… well, I’m definitely a saucy vegan. ;)
Sauces make the meal, in my opinion. Take any boring meal and amp it up with an awesome vegan sauce.
Here are some of my most popular vegan sauce recipes:
- Lemon Miso Tahini Dressing
- Honey Mustard Dressing
- Vegan Ranch
- Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
- Tzatziki Sauce
- BBQ Sauce
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
This vegan Italian dressing is:
- And awesome on salad, in a wrap, or on some steamed or roasted veggies!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!