So you’ve opted for a salad. Good job picking a healthier meal with more fiber and nutrients. But are you pouring on an unhealthy dose of chemicals, artificial coloring, and high-fructose corn syrup on top? That certainly could be the case if you’re using store-bought salad dressing. So where are all the better store-bought salad dressings and marinades? We found most of them online for you. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like better cookware, better condiments, & better spaghetti sauces, now join us as we bring you the best salad dressings & marinades.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon and was fact-checked by Rebecca Elizabeth Sherrick Harks, Registered Nurse.
Bad Ingredients to Avoid in Salad Dressing & Marinades
After analyzing the ingredients of over 250+ salad dressings and marinades, we started to notice a very distinct pattern in problematic ingredients. There are lots of them. A simple rule of thumb started to arise–the more ingredients, the more likely they would contain some of the problematic ingredients below:
- high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- harsh preservatives like EDTA, potassium sorbate & sodium benzoate
- artificial colors
- propylene glycol
- polysorbate 60
- “natural” and artificial flavors, i.e. undisclosed ingredients
High-Fructose Corn Syrup Does Not Belong in Salad Dressing or Marinade
This should come as no surprise. We’ve talked about the dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) for some time. It’s linked to obesity and diabetes. HFCS has also been shown to alter the brain. It can impede learning abilities, memory, and is also linked to depression and Alzheimer’s. Beyond that, it increases risks for various cancers and cardiovascular disease.
It’s basically a nightmare.
It’s also important to note HFCS is derived from genetically modified (GMO) corn which is sometimes sprayed with herbicides, such as glyphosate. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. Then in 2017, glyphosate was classified as a carcinogen by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and put on their Prop. 65 list.
Harsh Preservatives like EDTA, Sodium Benzoate & Potassium Sorbate Do Not Belong in Salad Dressing or Marinades
Harsh preservatives like EDTA, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate are very prevalent in salad dressings and marinades, but problematic to health. These preservatives & stabilizers are prevalent in the brands that made the “bad” list.
Studies found that preservative EDTA is linked to mineral depletion in dogs and patients taking EDTA for medical reasons suffered from anemia and other symptoms. It seems to be something you could do without.
Sodium benzoate & potassium sorbate are both linked to problems like inflammation. Sodium benzoate has also been linked to things like difficulty controlling appetite and making college students more hyper. But potassium sorbate was linked to genotoxic effects, which are very concerning.
Artificial Colors Do Not Belong in Salad Dressing or Marinades
Caramel color and artificial flavors were in many of the salad dressings we looked at. If you have children and you would like to enjoy their company, don’t give them artificial colors. Because when you do this, they can turn into monsters. Not the literal ones, but ones that have poor impulse control–like my son. Artificial colors are linked to hyperactivity in children and may worsen ADD or ADHD symptoms. Artificial colors are also linked to several cancers. Here are some of the colors we found inside salad dressings and marinades broken down by side effects:
- Red 40: allergic reactions, such as swelling around the mouth. Linked to hyperactivity in children. Also linked to lower fertility in offspring. Dyes made from coal tars are created by mixing various fragrant smelling hydrocarbons like benzyne and toluene.
- Blue 1: Blue 1 is a petroleum-derived triphenylmethane. Reactions include eczema, hives, puffy eyelids, dry skin, sneezing, recurring ear infections, congestion, and wheezing. Severe reactions include anaphylaxis. People with digestive issues report reactions such as constipation, vomiting, bloating, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea.
- Yellow 6: May cause an allergic reaction such as asthma, hives, headache, skin rash and in extreme cases anaphylaxis. Also linked to hyperactivity in children. Caution advised to those with aspirin sensitivities as reactions can occur.
Propylene Glycol & Polysorbate Do Not Belong in Salad Dressing or Marinades
Propylene glycol could be fine…or not. But certain parts of the population are more at risk such as young children, the elderly, burn patients, or patients on Ativan and diazepam. Propylene glycol is never to be taken intravenously. The World Health Organization has established the maximum amount to be ingested for adults to be 25mg/kg in a single day. Those at increased risk are at a higher risk for kidney and liver insufficiency.
Polysorbate 60 is a chemical you would find in Twinkies. Studies have linked daily consumption of emulsifiers like polysorbate to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in rats. Another recent study showing how emulsifiers like polysorbate affect the bacteria in the gut. According to the Journal of National Cancer Institute, polysorbate 60 can cause detrimental reproductive effects, organ toxicity and cancer in high doses.
Most brands, fortunately, are avoiding these chemicals today. But you’ll find propylene glycol in salad dressings like Ken’s Steakhouse Creamiest Caesar Dressing, Wishbone Russian Salad Dressing, & Wishbone Ranch Dressing. We found polysorbate 60 in Wishbone Russian Salad Dressing & Wishbone Ranch Dressing as well.
“Natural” and Artificial Flavors Do Not Belong in Salad Dressing or Marinades
Both natural and artificial flavors were abundant in bottled salad dressing & marinades. Artificial flavors can be made from over 100 possible chemicals and there’s no way to know what’s inside the product without them telling us. The same goes for anything “natural.” Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Things like arsenic and asbestos are natural too, but who wants to consume that? But it’s important to understand that “natural” flavoring is now made inside a laboratory. By the time you eat this salad dressing, there isn’t anything natural about it anymore. And sometimes even MSG is considered natural.
Brands can use terms like “spices” or “natural flavor” or “artificial flavor” to hide ingredients from consumers. This is completely legal, but becoming increasingly problematic as the allergic community grows. This law was created to protect companies from competition stealing their formulations, but we’ve come a long way baby! Now, all that stuff can be reverse-engineered in a laboratory. So the law is antiquated and only serves to shield the consumer from ingredients they need to know about.
MSG Does Not Belong in Salad Dressings or Marinades
MSG is a problematic ingredient which is used as a flavor enhancer in foods. It tricks the brain into thinking the food tastes better. It also tricks the brain into wanting more of that food, which is a recipe for overeating. And finally, it’s an excitotoxin, which overstimulates the nervous system.
MSG consumption has been linked to headaches, nausea, dizziness, asthma attacks, and heart palpitations and more. It can also promote cancer cell growth.
MSG is very tricky to spot. It can be listed as MSG, monosodium glutamate, or hidden under nearly 100 other names. There were a couple of brands that listed MSG right on the label, making it easy for us to spot like Wishbone Ranch Dressing, Dale’s Steak Seasoning, & Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning.
Mamavation’s Investigation of Salad Dressings & Marinades
Mamavation looked at over 250+ salad dressings and marinade products from several brands. We realized very quickly that some brands had products in 2-3 different categories, so we decided to list them all as products so you can analyze them separately. Generally, we noticed the more ingredients a product had, the more likely it would end in the bad category and so on.
Bad Salad Dressings & Marinades
These brands can contain multiple ingredients to avoid, such as MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, and harsh preservatives like EDTA, sodium benzoate & potassium sorbate. They also can contain oils made from genetically engineered crops, like conventional canola, vegetable or soybean oil.
- Allegro Original Marinade
- Allegro Tennessee Whiskey Marinade
- Allegro Raspberry Chipotle Marinade
- Allegro Black Pepper Marinade
- Allegro Soy & Lime Marinade
- Bitten Creamy Blueberry Basil Dressing
- Bitten Creamy Strawberry Dressing
- Bitten Creamy Blackberry Balsamic Dressing
- Bolthouse Farms Classic Coleslaw Dressing
- Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Dressing
- Bolthouse Farms Classic Ranch with Yogurt Dressing
- Bolthouse Farms Creamy Balsamic Yogurt Dressing
- Bolthouse Farms Italian Vinaigrette
- Bolthouse Farms Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
- Brianna’s Blush Vinaigrette
- Brianna’s Creamy Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing
- Brianna’s Italian Vinaigrette
- Brianna’s New American Creamy Balsamic
- Brianna’s Classic Buttermilk Ranch
- Brianna’s Lively Lemon Tarragon Salad Dressing
- Brianna’s Asiago Caesar Salad Dressing
- Brianna’s Chipotle Ranch Salad Dressing
- Brianna’s Dijon Honey Mustard Dressing
- Brianna’s Champagne Vinaigrette
- Brianna’s Creamy Blue Cheese Salad Dressing
- Brianna’s Saucy Ginger Mandarin Dressing
- Dale’s Steak Seasoning
- Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix
- Goya Mojo Chipotle Marinade
- Goya Mojo Criollo Marinade
- Hidden Valley Classic Ranch
- Hidden Valley Original Ranch Homestyle (popular)
- Hidden Valley Original Ranch Seasoning
- Ken’s Steak House Creamiest Caesar Dressing
- Ken’s Steak House House Italian
- Ken’s Steak House Lite Country French Dressing
- Ken’s Steak House Garlic Parmesan Dressing
- Ken’s Steak House Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Kraft dressing Catalina Dressing
- Kraft dressing Fat-Free Catalina
- Kraft dressing Zesty Italian
- Kraft dressing Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Kraft dressing Raspberry Vinaigrette Lite Dressing
- Kraft dressing Classic Ranch Dressing
- Kraft dressing Thousand Island Dressing
- Lawry’s Chipotle Molasses Marinade
- Lawry’s Mesquite Marinade with Lime Juice
- Lawry’s Hawaiian Marinade with Tropical Fruit Juices
- Lawry’s Herb & Garlic Marinade with Lemon Juice
- Lawrys Caribbean Jerk Marinade with Papaya
- Litehouse Homestyle Ranch
- Litehouse Original Blue Cheese Dressing
- Litehouse Light Blue Cheese
- Litehouse Coleslaw Dressing
- Litehouse Jalapeno Ranch
- Litehouse Ranch Dressing
- Litehouse Bacon Blue Cheese Dressing
- Litehouse Parmesan Caesar Dressing
- Litehouse Big Blue Cheese Dressing
- Litehouse Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing
- Litehouse Caesar Dressing & spread
- Litehouse Salsa Ranch Dressing
- Litehouse Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- Litehouse Honey Mustard Dressing
- Litehouse Thousand Island Dressing
- Litehouse Romano Caesar
- Litehouse Avocado Ranch with Bacon
- Litehouse Light Ranch Dressing
- Litehouse Thousand Island Dressing
- Litehouse Signature Ranch Dressing
- Litehouse Poppyseed Dressing
- Litehouse Coleslaw Dressing
- Litehouse Cotija Cilantro
- Litehouse Raspberry Dressing & Marinade
- Litehouse Italian Dressing & Marinade
- Litehouse Sweet French Dressing & Marinade
- Litehouse Sesame Ginger Dressing & Marinade
- Litehouse Pear Gorgonzola Dressing & Marinade
- Litehouse Greek Dressing & Marinade
- Litehouse Sweet Onion Dressing & Marinade
- Litehouse Mango Habanero Dressing & Marinade
- Litehouse Sriracha Lime Dressing & Marinade
- Litehouse Cranberry Orange Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- Litehouse Lemon Ginger Turmeric Vinaigrette
- Litehouse Maple Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- Litehouse Balsamic Dressing & Marinade
- Litehouse Spiced Fig Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- Litehouse Red Wine Vinegar with Olive Oil
- Litehouse Pomegranate Blueberry Dressing & Marinade
- Makoto Orange Ginger Dressing
- Makoto Balsamic Ginger Dressing
- Makoto Teriyaki Sauce
- Makoto Original Ginger Dressing
- Makoto Wasabi Ginger Dressing
- Marzetti Balsamic Viagagrette
- Marzetti Simply Dressed Lemon Dressing
- Marzetti Simply Dressed Strawberry Poppyseed Vinaigrette
- Marzetti Simply 60 Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- Marzetti Original Slaw Dressing
- Marzetti Simply Dressed Coleslaw Dressing
- Marzetti Classic Ranch Dressing
- Moore’s Teriyaki Sauce
- Moores Original Marinade
- Newman’s Own Balsamic Vingaraitte
- Newman’s Own Caesar Dressing
- Newman’s Own Citrus Splash Dressing
- Newman’s Own Classic Oil & Vinegar
- Newman’s Own Creamy Caesar
- Newman’s Own Honey Apple Cider Dressing
- Newman’s Own Honey Balsamic Dressing
- Newman’s Own Honey Dijon Mustard Dressing
- Newman’s Own Honey Mustard Dressing
- Newman’s Own Lime Vinaigrette
- Newman’s Own Parmesan and Roasted Garlic Dressing
- Newman’sOwn Family Recipes Italian Dressing
- Newman’s Own Greek Vinaigrette
- Wishbone Thousand Island Dressing
- Wishbone Russian Salad Dressing
- Wishbone Ranch Dressing
- Wishbone Robusto Italian Dressing
Better Salad Dressings & Marinades
This category is about pesticide and antibiotic residue and undisclosed ingredients. These dressings may still contain some of the ingredients to avoid but are light years better than the bad brands. Brands that had great ingredients that were not organic went here. This is because conventional ingredients can contain trace amounts of pesticides & antibiotics. Another reason a brand could end up in this category would be undisclosed ingredients. They use the term “spices” or “natural flavors” to describe their ingredients without telling us what they actually are. We’ve marked down organic products and brands that are not 100% transparent to the consumer here and kept them in the better category. Transparency is important. But we’ve linked them up for you anyways to make your decisions.