The classic vinaigrette sauce is easy to make, and requires only a few ingredients.  Always start with pure, high-quality oil.

America's favorite salad dressing is ranch, according to a 2019 survey from the FoodChannel.

Steve Henson make ranch dressing in 1949 to feed his crew while doing plumbing work in Alaska. Henson's blend of buttermilk, herbs, and spices is a hit among hers Hidden Valley Ranch guests and he started selling them in parcels by mail order.

While ranch dressing is the clear winner, Caesar, buttermilk, elderberry vinaigrette and bleu cheese sauce also feature in the top five.

Are you a salad dressing fanatic? Here's everything you need to know about its impact on your health.

What's the healthiest salad dressing?

The healthiest salad dressing, according to licensed nutritionists Father, is what you make yourself. With salad dressing, what matters is the ingredients used in it.

A simple and delicious salad dressing can be made with three ingredients — oil, spices and acid. For maximum health benefits, Pappa recommends looking for a high-quality oil such as extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil. This unrefined oil has a preferred profile of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are considered “healthy” fats.

Salad dressing that can be stored on the shelf may contain added sugar and stabilizer additives which can be avoided in homemade sauces.

“There is a lot of manipulation of ingredients like food which I don't think is fair,” says Pappa. “It sets us up for failure because it hits our taste perceptions of sugar, salt, fat in an almost addictive way.”

The classic vinaigrette sauce is easy to make, and requires only a few ingredients. Always start with high-quality olive or avocado oil.

But is salad dressing healthy? Some say it's unhealthy outweighs any health benefits the salad itself can be offered.

This is untrue and a dangerous mindset perpetuated by dieting culture, says Pappa. In fact, the best way to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin K in leafy greens is to pair them with fats like oil-based salad dressing or avocado. Salads are a healthy addition to your daily meal or diet, but we wouldn't eat them if they didn't taste good.

“It's bad to eat dry vegetables,” said Pappa. “We have to think about how we are going to make delicious food so we can then create pleasant habits.”

Is creamy salad dressing healthy?

Creamy salad dressing is often cited as the biggest cause of unhealthyness, but Pappa says there's nothing to fear. Many creamy, shelf-stable salad dressings rely on preservatives to make them last longer, so the healthiest way is to mix sour cream, mayo, or Greek yogurt with spices to make your own.

Regardless, a little cream dressing won't hurt and a little of it can go a long way.

“Cream sauce is also not to be underestimated, there are some salads that call for cream sauce,” said Pappa. “Does it add back the fat and calories? Yes. Does that mean maybe we balance out a few other things in the salad to accommodate that? Yes.”

How much salad dressing should I put on my salad?

Moderation is key when it comes to health, and Pappa says portion control with salad dressing comes down to preference and trial and error — start with a small amount of dressing, work it into your greens and give it a taste.

“I think that's one of the traps we sometimes fall into is we think we need more (sauce) because we don't think lettuce has flavor,” Pappa said. “From a culinary perspective, we seek balance. Salads, by nature, should be a bit of a palette cleanser.

How to make your own salad dressing

Growing up, Pappa's family made salad dressing using the “in the bowl” method he recommended picking up and adding to their kitchen routine.

Try some grated parmesan cheese on your salad to add another layer of flavor.

Try some grated parmesan cheese on your salad to add another layer of flavor.

Start with oil: Choose a high-quality oil, preferably unrefined like olive oil or avocado oil. Pour oil on the bottom of an empty salad bowl. For two people, Pappa recommends about two to three tablespoons.

Season your vegetables: Add some unique flavors to your oil – start with your basic salt and pepper, but experiment with dried garlic, onion powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, or even thyme.

Throw: Add the vegetables and stir, making sure the leaves are evenly coated with oil and spices.

Add acid: Choose an acid to flavor your sauce – this can be lemon or lime juice, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or another acid. Pappa recommends a ratio of two parts oil to one part acid but warns you to add a little and taste test to suit your preference. Stir again to combine.

From here, you can customize to your heart's content. Try adding a little Dijon mustard, honey, flavored oil, lime juice, peanut butter or even grated Parmesan cheese to change the profile.

“Making salad dressing is very forgiving because you can add and subtract as much as you need until you get the flavor you're looking for,” she says.

A touch of Dijon mustard can add zest to your classic vinaigrette sauce.

A touch of Dijon mustard can add a little more zest and a hint of creaminess to your classic vinaigrette sauce.