Calling all garlic lovers! This roasted garlic salad dressing is so incredibly creamy and extremely versatile. It's rich, a little sweet, and garlicky but without that annoying garlic aftertaste. You can make it with nut butter or raw cashews depending on what you prefer.
This dressing turns pungent raw garlic into something that's sweet and nutty, with a lot more depth of flavor. It's perfect to level up your dressing game if you've been sticking to garlic powder until now. The cashews also make it a lot creamier compared to an oil and vinegar-based garlic vinaigrette.
Why make your own salad dressing?
- Minimal ingredients list: The simple ingredients keep this roasted dressing uncomplicated but bring maximal satisfaction.
- Clean ingredients: You know exactly what you put into your homemade salad dressing. No canola oil, xanthan gum, thickeners, or preservatives.
- Money-saving: Making your own dressing is definitely cheaper than clean store-bought dressing from health food stores.
- Perfect for meal prep: If you planning to make a salad or eat grain bowls throughout the week, it's always a good idea to have some dressing ready to go in your fridge.
- No food waste: Most of us have probably had to throw out a bottled dressing at some point because we had not used it up before its expiry date. This can easily be avoided by a making smaller quantity of homemade dressing.
Key ingredients and substitutions
- A whole head of garlic: Even though that may sound like a lot, roasted garlic is a lot milder in taste than raw garlic.
- Pure cashew butter OR raw cashews: It brings the creamy element to the dressing, without having to use extra-virgin olive oil. You can use soaked cashews or cashew butter and still obtain the same texture. If you don't have cashew butter on hand and still want to make this dressing super quickly, you can substitute it with white almond butter or white tahini.
- Fresh lemon juice: To add some zing. You can replace it with white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar (anything that's tangy and a little sweet, NOT white vinegar) but know that it will change the flavor of the dressing slightly. I don't recommend adding lemon zest here. If you want a lemony dressing, try this green salad dressing.
- Seasoning: Dried dill weed and dried parsley are my herbs of choice. Add salt and black pepper to enhance the overall flavors of the dressing.
- Dijon mustard (optional): Works great in any salad dressing, and this one is no exception.
- Maple syrup (optional): If your dressing feels a little tangy from the lemon or earthy from the tahini, you can add a splash of maple syrup to balance it out.
- Peel most of the outer papery layers of the garlic but leave one layer on to prevent the garlic from drying out in the oven.
- Roast a head of garlic whenever you turn on the oven for another savory dish.
- Adjust the consistency by adding more a less water. You can easily turn this salad dressing into a roasted garlic sauce by adding just a small amount of liquid.
How to roast garlic in the oven
STEP 1: Cut off the top of the garlic bulb. You want to see the inside of the garlic cloves from the top.
STEP 2: Wrap the garlic. Drizzle the garlic head with olive oil and wrap it in parchment paper or aluminum foil. Twist the top to form a tight little packet.
STEP 3: Roast the wrapped garlic in a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. I like to do so alongside other veggies when I'm meal-prepping. The top of the garlic should be golden brown and almost caramelized once it's done.
STEP 4: Press out the garlic. Remove the roasted garlic from the oven and let it cool until cold enough to touch. Then, gently press out the garlic cloves and discard the paper skins. The garlic should be extremely smooth, almost like a paste.
Garlic salad dressing instructions
STEP 1 (optional): Soak the cashews for about 2 hours until soft or boil them in water for 30 minutes while the garlic is roasting.
STEP 2: Add everything to a small personal blender or mini food processor. Alternatively, put everything in a jug or large bowl and blend with an immersion blender. Start with the cashews/cashew butter, then, add the water, lemon juice, roasted garlic paste, dried herbs, salt, and pepper.
STEP 3: Blend until smooth. This should take less than 30 seconds if using cashew butter and 1-2 minutes if using soaked cashews. I like this affordable but powerful blender for dressings.
STEP 4: Transfer to an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid. I really like this Weck glass jar, which has the perfect size for dressings.
RELATED: Don't miss this vegan Caesar salad dressing, which is also great for your bowls and salads.
Cashew-based dressings (or tahini-based) will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator if stored airtightly. Make sure to store it on one of the cooler shelves on your fridge and not in the door. Give it a good shake before serving.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can roast individual cloves of garlic on a baking sheet at 350°F (150°C) for 15 to 20 minutes. To peel, cut off the tip of the clove and squeeze out the garlic.
If you didn't use all the roasted garlic in the dressing, you can add it to pasta sauce, or mashed potatoes, or mix it with oil and brush it onto roasted vegetables. Alternatively, keep it in an airtight container with a little olive oil in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or freeze them for 3 months.
A vinaigrette mostly uses oil and vinegar as a base and carrier for the other dressing ingredients. A dressing has a creamy component to it, such as yogurt, mayonnaise, buttermilk, or in this case, nut butter.
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Roasted Garlic Salad Dressing
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Prep the garlic. Cut off the top of the garlic until you see the inside of the garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in parchment paper or aluminum foil and twist the top.
- Roast the garlic for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let it cool down and remove it from its packet. Press the garlic cloves out of their skins using your thumb and your forefinger.
- Blend. Add the roasted garlic cloves, cashew butter or soaked cashews, water, lemon juice, dill, parsley, salt, and pepper to a small blender. Blend until smooth. Alternatively, add everything to a bowl and blend with an immersion blender.
- Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Raw cashews: You can substitute the cashew butter with the same amount in grams of raw cashews. Soak them in water for 2 hours or boil them for 30 minutes while roasting the garlic, then follow the same instructions. Add more water if needed.
- Optional add-ins: Dijon mustard works great in any salad dressing, and this one is no exception. Maple syrup is great if your dressing feels a little tangy from the lemon or earthy from the tahini.
- Serving suggestions: Use it as a dressing for grain bowls and salads. Alternatively, add a little less water and use it as a sauce for falafel or as a dip.
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