Healthiest salad dressings: the best and worst revealed!

How healthy is your favourite salad dressing? We round up some popular buys and dish the dirt on their real fat and calorie counts

Briannas Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Working out the best salad dressings for your diet and differentiating between the healthiest salad dressings and worst salad dressings for your diet can be difficult, so we round up some popular buys and dish the dirt on their real fat and calorie counts.

Salad is usually assumed to be the diet-friendly option, but after you’ve added your favourite dressing, how healthy is it?

Let's be honest - whenever we pick a salad over a huge creamy bowl of pasta, or a juicy burger for dinner, we normally feel pretty pleased with ourselves - we've picked the lower calories, nutrient packed option over the calorific meals we shunned.

But are all salads as healthy as we think? Unfortunately, the addition of salad dressing can tip your veggie-packed meal from healthy to supremely healthy, as many options on the supermarket shelves include a whole heap of calories that you might not expect.

But how do you know which is the healthiest salad dressing to pick? An expect shares their verdict:

Although oil-based dressings aren't exactly brilliant, creamy, egg-based dressings can have an unexpectedly huge calorie count, rendering our salad no where near as healthy as we might have thought. Lead Dietician from Bupa Cromwell Hospital Nutrition, Niamh Hennessy, said, "If you’re buying a salad dressing, pay close attention to the nutrition information on the packaging – it may include a traffic light system, so try to choose a dressing that has a green classification for fat and sugar content."

She also suggested using less salad dressing than you might normally put on your salad. "Around a tablespoon of salad dressing tends to be the recommended serving size, but it may be tempting to drizzle on more." Niamh said. But she warned, "Within this extra drizzle, you could be consuming extra calories in the form of oil, sugars, salt, cheese and egg yolk."

So, in order to figure out the truth, we compared some of the most popular salad dressings on the market to see which ones we should be stocking up on and which ones we should be leaving on the supermarket shelves. All nutritional values are per 100g, to measure them all equally.

Which of these dressings is your favourite? Did the results shock you? Let us know in our comments section below…

Healthiest salad dressings - and which ones are not the healthiest:

Briannas Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Rating for calorie-counters: 0/10

Cal: 533 kCal - highest amount of calories!

Fat: 56.6g - highest fat content!

Sat fat: 4.3g

Sugar: 6.7g

Salt: 2.2g

Price: £3.69 for 355ml from Ocado

Verdict: With buttermilk’ on the label you know already that this one is going to score highly on the calorie and fat front, but even we were shocked by this dressing.

Waitrose Essential Italian Dressing

Waitrose Essential Italian Dressing

Rating for calorie-counters: 1/10

Cal: 414 kCal

Fat: 36.5g

Sat fat: 4.0g

Sugar: 11.8g


Salt: 1.5g


Price: £1 for 250ml from Waitrose


Verdict: You get a lot of dressing for your £1 with Waitrose’s Essential Italian Dressing, however it’s not a great option if you’re watching your weight.

Heinz Salad Cream

Heinz Salad CreamHeinz Salad Cream

Rating for calorie-counters: 2/10

Cal: 336 kCal

Fat: 27.0g

Sat fat: 2.0g

Sugar: 17.6g

Salt: 1.7g

Price: £2.25 for 460ml from Tesco

Verdict: The family classic, Heinz Salad Cream has been around for years. Unfortunately it hasn’t been helping with our diet. If you can’t bare to part with it, try using it for dipping rather than pouring all over your salad – you’ll be surprised at how little you end up eating.

Mary Berry’s Light Salad Dressing

Mary Berry’s Light Salad Dressing

Rating for calorie-counters: 3/10

Cal: 314 kCal

Fat: 21.9g

Sat fat: 3.6g

Sugar: 27.4g  

Salt: 1.3g

Price: £2.95 for 265ml at Tesco

Verdict: She is a household name, but despite promising a light’ option Mary Berry’s salad dressing won’t help your diet. The delicious flavour is helped along by lashings of sugar and the levels of both fat and saturated fat are still pretty high.

Waitrose Half Fat Caesar Dressing

Waitrose Half Fat Caesar Dressing

Rating for calorie-counters: 4/10

Cal: 259 kCal

Fat: 22.8g

Sat fat: 3.2g

Sugar: 9.0g

Salt: 1.5g

Price: £1.99 for 235ml from Waitrose

Verdict: Caesar salads are renowned for having a calorific sauce and even Waitrose light’ version can’t offer any relief. In fact the levels of fat and sugar take up a big portion of our recommended daily amount.

Newman’s Own Creamy Caesar Dressing

Newman’s Own Creamy Caesar Dressing

Rating for calorie-counters: 6/10

Cal: 229 kCal

Fat: 20.6g

Sat fat: 1.9g

Sugar: 5.2g

Salt: 2.0g

Price: £1.50 for 250ml at Sainsbury’s

Verdict: This is surprisingly better for calorie-counters than Waitrose Light Caesar Dressing. With this said, it’s still not a dressing we’d add to our salad every week.

Tesco Thousand Island Dressing

Tesco Thousand Island Dressing

Rating for calorie-counters: 7/10

Cal: 220 kCal

Fat: 17.6g

Sat fat: 1.1g

Sugar: 11.3g

Salt: 0.8g

Price: 89p for 250ml from Tesco

Verdict: Thousand Island Dressing isn’t known for being a healthy option, but Tesco’s version isn’t as bad for you as you might assume. While we wouldn’t eat it every time we have a salad, it’s definitely not one we’d avoid either.

Tesco Lighter Choices Balsamic Dressing

Tesco Lighter Choices Balsamic Dressing

Rating for calorie-counters: 9.5/10

Cal: 85 kCal

Fat: 1.5g

Sat fat: 0.2g

Sugar: 11.4g

Salt: 0.3g

Price: 99p for 250ml from Tesco

Verdict: Whether you’re watching your weight or just trying to eat more healthily, this is the dressing to buy in bulk. Plus, it’s budget-friendly and still scores highly on the taste front.

Hellmann’s Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Hellmann’s Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Rating for calorie-counters: 9.5/10

Cal: 82kCal

Fat: 2.7g

Sat fat: 0.4g

Sugar: 3.6g

Salt: 2.0g

Price:  £1 for 235ml at Ocado

Verdict: While it might have slightly more calories than the winning dressing, Hellmann’s Balsamic Vinaigrette is still one of the healthiest options and has some of the lowest levels of fat, saturated fats and sugar in this round up.

Sainsburys Be Good to Yourself Honey & Mustard Dressing

Sainsburys Be Good to Yourself Honey & Mustard Dressing

Rating for calorie-counters: 10/10

Cal: 73 kCal

Fat: 0.8g


Sat fat: 0.1g
 - lowest sat fat!

Sugar: 10.8g


Salt: 0.6g


Price: £1 for 260ml from Sainsbury’s


Verdict: This dressing delivers exactly what it promises on the label – a delicious honey and mustard flavour to add to your salad without ruining your diet. It’s a winner for us.  

 

Where to next?

- Best and worst yogurts for your diet

- Best and worst sauces for your diet

- Best and worst cereals for your diet (opens in new tab)

Asda Light Vinaigrette Dressing

Asda Light Vinaigrette Dressing

Rating for calorie-counters: 10/10

Cal:56 kCal

Fat0.8g


Sat fat: 0.2gSugar: 8.5g


Salt:1.5g


Price:65p for 250ml from Asda.

Verdict: Asda's classic vinaigrette dressing is one of the healthiest salad dressings out there, with a super low calorie count - and it's also pretty low in fat and salt. However, just because it's one of the healthier ones, we reckon it's still safest to use sparingly, if you can.

 

Morrisons Counted Soy Chilli and Ginger Dressing

Morrisons Counted Soy Chilli and Ginger Dressing

Rating for calorie-counters: 10/10

Cal:51 kCal - lowest calorie count!

Fat: 0.3g

Sat fat: 0.1g - lowest sat fat!

Sugar: 9.5g


Salt:1.43g


Price: 85p for 250ml from Morrisons

Verdict: This dressing tops the list for us in terms of healthiest salad dressing, with the lowest calorie count. And it's no surprise, as it was created by Morrisons with the WeightWatchers SmartPoints system in mind, so is just about fat free and calorie controlled, making it a great option for those watching their weight. That's shown in the low calorie count too - the lowest of our entire selection!

Charlotte is founder and Editorial Director of The Forty-Five. The former NME Editor has written for goodto.com, The Face, Red and Marie Claire. With 15 years experience in journalism Charlotte has covered most bases when it comes to content people want to consume.