This Asian salad dressing is made with sesame oil and olive oil for a healthy and delicious option that will transform ANY salad. You only need a few ingredients and you’ll have it ready in minutes!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
On any given day when my creativity doesn’t spark to the fullest and life seems just a little crazy, I grab my Whole30 Mayo and mix that into a simple lettuce salad. Simple has its pleasures, yes, but when it’s time to up my salad game and I have exhausted my jars of Apple Cider Vinaigrette and Homemade Strawberry Vinaigrette, I look to one of my favorites: Japanese inspired Asian sesame vinaigrette. I promised you this dressing will transform ANY salad. For example, I used this vinaigrette as a substitute when making this Steak Salad and this Black Rice Salad. With a fair amount of concern for flavor clashes, I even used it as the dressing for this Kale Salad with Cranberries. It was a fresh surprise! Who knew sesame and kale could be BFFs? SO, you’ll love this recipe because:
- It’s healthy
- Ready in just a few minutes
- Its Japanese inspired subtle flavors can be paired with multiple salads
- You can adjust the acidity or the sweetness to your liking – Make it YOUR Asian vinaigrette!
- Use it in a fresh or warm salad
- The perfect balance between exotic flavors and familiar flavors, you’ll see why…
What is Asian Salad Dressing Made Of?
I LOVE Asian dishes, so MOST of these ingredients I had in my pantry already, YAY, lucky me! If you need to stock up on these items or are trying them for the first time, it’s a world of new flavors. Luckily for you, these pantry items have many uses, including this Thai Salad Dressing and even this Miso Lemon Tahini Dressing. Your new pantry staples will have no time to sit around.
This recipe took me some time to develop because it’s a mix of usual Asian ingredients and also not-so-Asian ingredients like olive oil and honey! But, finally perfected, I am happy to share this one with you! It’s so easy and quick, it might just become your favorite too. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Rice vinegar
- Sugar /honey
- Olive oil
I suggest looking for the BEST quality you can find. The fermentation process of soybeans and wheat give a salty, slightly caramel-like taste to soy sauce. Should sodium be a concern, just use a low-sodium soy sauce instead.
Sesame oil is a cooking oil made from pressed sesame seeds. There are 2 varieties: Light and dark sesame oil. Light sesame oil can be used in everyday cooking and has a higher smoke point (410°F). It is made by pressing raw sesame seeds whereas dark sesame oil has been roasted before pressing. The darker oil has a nuttier, more distinct sesame flavor and is considered a finishing oil. Use it in low-heat cooking or as suggested for this Asian sesame salad dressing!
Made from fermented rice, this vinegar is perfect for our vinaigrette, providing a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar will have almost a similar flavor should you want a substitute.
I do admit this ingredient is not typically associated with Asian cuisine, but I was promising you a healthy vinaigrette! Usually, vegetable oils are used in Asian cooking. However, I found that using olive oil provided a lovely pepperiness and ticked my box for a healthy fat. Your body will thank you (or me) later!
Honey or sugar
I am team honey on this one! The oooozzzzyyyness of honey makes for a slightly thicker vinaigrette which will cling onto whatever you’re drizzling it over! If you’re all out of honey– don’t worry, vinaigrettes shouldn’t be stressful– you can use sugar.
How To Make Asian Sesame Salad Dressing
Add all the ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk together until combined.
I like to drizzle my vinaigrette over the dish just before serving, giving it not too much time to absorb into the salad. Depending on the salad, you might want to give it a quick toss to evenly distribute the vinaigrette.
Something about sesame oil is SO moreish, you’ll want to finish it all! Luckily for us, it’s a salad, so go ahead and EAT UP!
Mix it up
- Sesame seeds – To up the sesame taste and add a crunch, toast white or black sesame seeds in the oven or over a medium-hot pan for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before adding it to the rest of the vinaigrette.
- Spice – Sriracha sauce or chili flakes are the perfect options to add a spicy element. Start with ½ tsp chili flakes and 1-2 tsp sriracha when making 1 cup of vinaigrette. Add more to your spice preference.
- Sliced scallion – Add 2 tbsp thinly diced scallion for a crunchy and fresh element to your vinaigrette.
- Ginger & Garlic – Start with ½ tsp minced ginger and garlic. This is especially perfect for warm salads as the garlic & ginger get cooking time with the warm veggies!
- Creamy – Replace the olive oil with the same amount of sushi mayonnaise or creamy mayo of your choice. Add a small splash of water to loosen the vinaigrette mixture to your desired consistency.
- Put it in a blender – This method will make for temporarily creamy mayonnaise as the vinegar emulsifies with the oil to give a unique creamy mouthfeel!
You can substitute rice vinegar for wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar as they have a similar taste. You can also replace honey with sugar. And if you want to make the dressing more keto friendly, any low carb sweetener will do.
Types of Salad Dressing
The two most common types of salad dressings are:
- Vinaigrettes are based on a combination of salad oil and vinegar.
- Creamy dressings are typically made with mayonnaise or fermented dairy products like yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk.
According to the American Association for Dressing and Sauces (I did NOT know this association existed!), the most popular salad sauce in the US is ranch dressing, while Asian sauces tend to be more popular on the West coast.
Is Asian Salad Dressing Healthy?
Good question! Trying to eat something good for you like a fresh salad full of vegetables and spoiling it with an unhealthy dressing is surely a bad idea. The good news is that my Asian salad dressing IS healthy!
My generic rule to know whether a salad dressing is healthy is the following: vinaigrettes are healthy while creamy sauces are not. But as always, the devil is in the details: a creamy sauce made with a healthy swap like yogurt instead of mayo should be categorized as healthy. On the other hand, a vinaigrette with too much cheese may end up unhealthy.
If you are in doubt, check the nutrition facts: a healthy sauce should have less than 80 calories and 300mg of sodium per serving.
Try this Asian Salad Dressing with these dishes
Simply replace the sauces with this vinaigrette and you have a whole new dish on your hands!
- Oriental Coleslaw With Asian Dressing
- Air Fryer Roasted Asian Broccoli
- Asian Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin
Asian Salad Dressing (Sesame Vinaigrette)
Place all the ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk until well combined.
Drizzle over your salad and lightly toss to distribute the vinaigrette.
Store additional vinaigrette in an airtight jar or container.
Whisk the vinaigrette or shake the jar to combine the ingredients before drizzling over your salad.