Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings

August 29, 2013Teresa

2013 – Gluten Free Living

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings give you two delicious ways to make this lovely restaurant dressing. I LOVE Olive Garden’s featured salad and dressing along with a host of their other entrees and food items. I’m a tomato lover anyway, add in some olives and pepperocinis to give a salad a little bite and I’m delirious with enjoyment! 🙂

I was in the mood for Olive Garden Salad last week but I didn’t want to go out to eat, nor use the bottles of Olive Garden salad dressing I have in my refrigerator or on my pantry shelf. I wanted to see if I could improve on the copycat versions available by eliminating mayonnaise, sugar, and corn syrup and make a satisfying dressing that was healthy, yet still very close to the original in flavor.

Many of you who follow my blog know I’ve been on a journey for the past four years to eat healthy and healthier and keep my weight down, so I’ve been trying to come up with gluten free and healthier versions of many of my favorite foods in order to accomplish those goals.

To that end, I eat a LOT of salads, fruits, soups, and veggies, and I limit my use of lean meats and dairy. For the most part that eliminates sweet desserts, pasta, pizza, fried or junk foods, and I stick with clean eating except for special occasions. It has made a significant difference in my overall health so I will continue to try to eat cleaner in the future.

Anyway, I find lots of recipes online and on Pinterest that I modify somewhat in order to accomplish my healthy eating goals. This is one of those recipes I have been wanting to makeover for sometime, as I am always on the lookout for healthy salad dressing recipes that don’t use high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial sweeteners, mayonnaise, and other ingredients like soy, fillers, GMO products, or MSG. And when a makeover recipe turns out as well as this one I am ecstatic!

Both of the Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings turned out fantastic. But one came out sensational in replicating the taste of Olive Garden’s original dressing. I substituted Chobani vanilla Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise in each recipe–which was a completely excellent call for a substitution. Then I substituted honey for the corn syrup in one recipe and honey for the sugar in the other recipe. I also substituted olive oil (I only use extra virgin olive oil) for regular vegetable oil since it is a lot healthier.

One recipe needed more Italian seasoning, in my opinion, and while the taste was great for a healthy salad dressing, I did not personally feel it came close to replicating Olive Garden’s recipe. Perhaps the original version is a little better, but this one does not compare. Even saying that, the dressing itself was extraordinarily tasty. I would easily consider making it again with my healthy substitutions and adding more Italian seasoning and perhaps more garlic.

The other copycat version from The Country Cook, however, turned out phenomenally–in color, texture and taste. Mine was slightly greener because I used olive oil, but the taste was really close to Olive Garden’s version–and it’s a LOT healthier, too, for those who want healthy versions of their favorite recipes.

The salad dressing recipes I include here are both gluten free, and if you leave off the croutons on the salad (unless you make homemade gluten free croutons) then both the salad and salad dressing are healthy, low calorie, and gluten free. I will add one other comment–this salad tastes more like Olive Garden’s salad when you add a LOT of freshly grated (fine grate) Parmesan cheese to the salad. Without adding that, you won’t be able to get even close to the original taste.

Let me also add that I have taken a little license with Olive Garden’s salad, too. Most Olive Garden’s are notorious for being very stingy on topping ingredients. You are lucky if you get one or two olives, tomato slices, or pepperocinis when your table is served a bowl of their salad, while getting a half cup of red onion rings! We almost always ask for more tomatoes and dressing, and sometimes extra olives and pepperocinis too, because we prefer salads with more than just lettuce. For this salad, I’ve also incorporated cucumbers which are not on Olive Garden’s salad menu, but since we enjoy them a lot, I included them in the pictures for this post.

If you love Olive Garden’s Salad like I do, but would like to make your own healthier version of their great salad dressing, then you’ve got to consider trying out either of these great healthy copycat versions below. While both versions taste great, my healthy adaptation of the The Country Cook’s version turned out spectacular and closer to the original Olive Garden recipe in taste, texture, and appearance.

The reason I’m including BOTH copycat versions is because my healthy adaptation of the other salad dressing also turned out so well in taste that for those who are just looking for healthy salad dressing recipes, this gives you another option. It just doesn’t taste or look quite like Olive Garden’s salad dressing with these adaptations. So, I offer you both versions and pictures of each particular dressing which I will label well. You’ll also get double the pictures in this post because of it.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5756

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings are really wonderful. Sprinkling plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper help bring out the tastes you’re used to when eating Olive Garden’s salad.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5731

This is what the first version of my copycat dressing looks like. It’s slightly greener since I use olive oil in place of the vegetable oil in the recipe.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5798

By eliminating the croutons or substituting gluten free croutons you can have a gluten free salad.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressing - IMG_5067

Here’s a look at the salad with my healthy version #2 copycat dressing. You can see by looking at the dressing that it does not have the same color as Olive Garden’s recipe. Still, this tasty dressing is very healthy and a great option for any kind of salad dressing. Both of the copycat salad dressings turned out with a wonderful taste and I will make each of them in the future. But the first version looks and tastes a lot closer to Olive Garden’s original recipe in my opinion.

 

Here’s what I did.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4700

Toss lettuce mix into a large salad bowl.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4703

Add sliced tomatoes. This is about 20 times more tomatoes than Olive Garden puts in their salads, but we really love tomatoes so I added a lot of extra slices. I added cucumbers which are NOT in Olive Garden’s traditional salad. Add jumbo black olives. This is about 10 times more olives than Olive Garden usually uses. We prefer a lot of toppings on our salads.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4705

Add pepperocinis. This is about 5 times more pepperocinis than found in most Olive Garden salads. Again, we prefer a lot! Add grated Parmesan cheese. I ended up liking it better with finely grated Parmesan cheese, but I did that after I took this picture.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4976

Add red onion rings and serve with salad dressing: either healthy version copycat #1, or healthy version copycat #2 (pictured above).

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5710

To make salad dressings: For healthy copycat version #1: Start with a packet of Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Mix. I checked the ingredients carefully. This packet does have sugar, but no gluten, and not a lot of the fillers I was expecting. 

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5711

Measure white vinegar into a measuring cup. Then pour into a pint-sized mason jar.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5712

Add water.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5715

Now add the Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix to the mason jar. Here I’ve added the three ingredients.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5716

Cover the mason jar with a lid and shake vigorously.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5717

Now add olive oil to the mason jar and shake again. This is a lot healthier option than any of the vegetable oils.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5718

Add Italian seasoning, kosher or sea salt, black pepper, Chobani vanilla Greek yogurt, and honey.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5719

Now you will add garlic powder, more olive oil, and more white vinegar.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5723

Seal mason jar and shake vigorously again for about 60 seconds until all the ingredients are well combined.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5724

This is what my healthy version #1 copycat salad dressing looks like. I LOVED this stuff!

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4934

For my healthy copycat version #2: Place yogurt in a blender. I started out with a bowl and had to move it to the blender. Add white vinegar.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Dressing - IMG_4935

Add olive oil.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4936

Add honey.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4937

Add grated Parmesan cheese.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4938

Add shredded Romano cheese.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4939

Add minced garlic. I highly recommend you increase this amount to using at least 3 large cloves garlic.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4941

Add Italian seasoning. I went back and added more because the dressing needed a little more zip.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4942

Add dried parsley.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4943

Add lemon juice.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_4944

Blend ingredients in your blender until well mixed.

Healthy Olive Garde Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5026

Here’s what my healthy copycat version #2 of Olive Garden salad dressing looked like.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5794

Both of my Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat dressings are delicious and can be used on any kind of salad you make–whether you try to replicate Olive Garden’s salad or not.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5741

But version #1 with the Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix came really close to replicating the traditional Olive Garden dressing–even with my changes to the oil, sugar and mayonnaise and substituting olive oil, honey, and Greek yogurt–this dressing still tasted amazingly like Olive Garden’s dressing

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5746

You can use the traditional lettuce mix or you can use iceberg lettuce with a little shredded carrot and red cabbage in a pinch if you can’t find the other mixes in the store.

Here are the recipes.

HEALTHY OLIVE GARDEN SALAD & COPYCAT DRESSINGS

(Recipe adapted from Olive Garden; Version 1 recipe adapted from: The Country Cook; version 2 recipe adapted from:copyKat.com)

Print Recipe
Olive Garden Salad Copycat Recipe BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
Two copycat versions of Olive Garden's classic salad dressing , plus a few of my additions.
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
SALAD:
HEALTHY SALAD DRESSING--VERSION 1:
HEALTHY SALAD DRESSING--VERSION 2:
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
SALAD:
HEALTHY SALAD DRESSING--VERSION 1:
HEALTHY SALAD DRESSING--VERSION 2:
Instructions
SALAD:
  1. Layer salad ingredients in this order in large salad bowl: lettuce mix, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, pepperocini and red onion rings.
  2. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  3. To serve: toss salad ingredients and place on plates.
  4. Drizzle with salad dressing; sprinkle with kosher salt.
  5. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Garnish with croutons, then extra Parmesan cheese, as desired.
HEALTHY SALAD DRESSING--VERSION 1:
  1. In a pint-size mason jar, pour ¼ cup white vinegar and 3 tbsp. water.
  2. Add Italian Dressing mix, replace lid and shake.
  3. Add ½ cup olive oil and shake again.
  4. Now add Italian seasoning, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, honey, Greek yogurt, olive oil, white vinegar, and remaining water.
  5. Seal lid on mason jar and shake thoroughly for 30-60 seconds or until ingredients are well mixed.
  6. Makes 1 pint salad dressing.
HEALTHY SALAD DRESSING--VERSION 2:
  1. Combine ingredients in blender and pulse until well mixed.
  2. Combine with salad or drizzle over individual servings.
  3. Garnish salad with croutons, salt and pepper, and more grated Parmesan cheese.
Recipe Notes

SALAD DRESSING--VERSION 1:

NOTE: The color of this salad dressing is a little greener than Olive Garden’s salad dressing because I use ALL olive oil and NO vegetable oil. Avocado oil may make it less green in appearance.

NOTE: I substituted vanilla Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise and honey for the sugar in the copycat recipe.

Recipe adapted from The Country Cook.
© Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen

SALAD DRESSING--VERSION 2:

NOTE: I substituted Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise and honey for the corn syrup in this copycat recipe. I increased the Italian seasoning and I would recommend increasing the garlic to at least 3 cloves.
Recipe adapted from KopyKat Recipes.
© Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen

 

[b]Olive Garden Salad Copycat Recipe[/b]
Recipe Type: Salads and Salad Dressings
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Teresa Ambra my version of the [url href=”http://www.olivegarden.com/” target=”_blank” title=”olive garden”]Olive Garden[/url] classic
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Copycat version of Olive Garden’s classic salad, plus a few of my additions.
Ingredients
  • about 6-8 cups iceberg lettuce mix (with carrots and shredded red cabbage)
  • 4-5 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup red onion slices, sliced thinly and separated into rings
  • ¾ cup ripe jumbo olives, whole, drained
  • 8-10 pepperocini
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Texas Toast croutons, as desired
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Layer salad ingredients in this order in large salad bowl: lettuce mix, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, pepperocini and red onion rings.
  2. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  3. To serve: toss salad ingredients and place on plates.
  4. Drizzle with salad dressing; sprinkle with kosher salt.
  5. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Garnish with croutons, then extra Parmesan cheese, as desired.
Notes
You can also substitute one head iceberg lettuce, ¼ cup shredded carrots and ¼ cup shredded red cabbage for the lettuce mix.[br][br]Olive Garden is a little sparing on their ingredients except for lettuce and onions sometimes. We always ask for more tomatoes and dressing on the side. Sometimes we’ve even asked for more olives and pepperocinis. This recipe reflects our tastes. Olive Garden does not add cucumber to their salads. That’s my addition.

 

[b]Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings[/b]
Recipe Type: Salads and Salad Dressings
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Teresa Ambra adapted from [url href=”http://www.thecountrycook.net/2012/01/olive-garden-salad-dressing.html” target=”_blank” title=”olive garden salad dressing copycat recipe”]The Country Cook[/url]
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 16
This delicious copycat Olive Garden Salad Dressing recipe uses Greek yogurt and honey instead of mayonnaise and sugar. Very close in taste to Olive Garden’s recipe but healthier. Gluten free.
Ingredients
  • 1 packet Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix (this does have sugar in the mix but no gluten)
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. [url href=”http://chobani.com/home/” target=”_blank” title=”chobani”]Chobani[/url] vanilla Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. water
Instructions
  1. In a pint-size mason jar, pour ¼ cup white vinegar and 3 tbsp. water.
  2. Add Italian Dressing mix, replace lid and shake.
  3. Add ½ cup olive oil and shake again.
  4. Now add Italian seasoning, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, honey, Greek yogurt, olive oil, white vinegar, and remaining water.
  5. Seal lid on mason jar and shake thoroughly for 30-60 seconds or until ingredients are well mixed.
  6. Makes 1 pint salad dressing.
Notes
The color of this salad dressing is a little greener than Olive Garden’s salad dressing because I use ALL olive oil and NO vegetable oil. I substituted vanilla Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise and honey for the sugar in the copycat recipe.

 

[b]Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings[/b]
Recipe Type: Salads and Salad Dressings
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Teresa Ambra adapted from [url href=”http://www.copykat.com/2009/03/29/olive-garden-salad-dressing/” target=”_blank” title=”olive garden salad dressing”]copyKat.com[/url]
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Delicious Olive Garden Salad Dressing copycat recipe. This one is a healthier version substituting Greek yogurt for mayonnaise and honey for corn syrup in the recipe. Gluten free.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup [url href=”http://chobani.com/home/” target=”_blank” title=”chobani”]Chobani [/url]vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup finely grated Romano cheese
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced (I recommend using 3 large garlic cloves, minced)
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Combine ingredients in blender and pulse until well mixed.
  2. Combine with salad or drizzle over individual servings.
  3. Garnish salad with croutons, salt and pepper, and more grated Parmesan cheese.
Notes
I substituted Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise and honey for the corn syrup in this copycat recipe. I increased the Italian seasoning and I would recommend increasing the garlic to at least 3 cloves.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressing - IMG_5785

Are you salivating yet? My Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings are terrific.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5742

I served my Healthy Olive Garden Salad with Copycat Dressings with a delicious homemade Whole Wheat Greek Bread.

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5038

Doesn’t this salad look wonderful? It was so fresh and crisp!

Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings - IMG_5040

We loved both of these healthy versions of salad and salad dressing. If you love Olive Garden Salad you will love these recipes.

You may also enjoy these delicious recipes!

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | this fantastic #SaladDressing uses #GreekYogurt, #Cilantro & a little honey. It's a terrific dressing to put over any #TexMex style #salad. #Healthy #CleanEating #GlutenFree #CreamyCilantroLimeDressing

Healthy Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

Healthy Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing - IMG_8749.jpg

Thousand Island Dressing

Thousand Island Salad Dressing | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | fantastic homemade #saladdressing that's perfect for any #salad. It's great to use as a dip as well. #glutenfree

11 Comments

  • Carolyn

    December 7, 2018 at 6:40 am

    Where are you finding gluten free Good Seasoning Italian dressing mix? All the Good Seasoning mix I have found has wheat – which contains gluten.

    1. Teresa

      December 7, 2018 at 10:55 am

      Hi, Carolyn, I’m not sure where I found that packet. This recipe was published several years ago. Perhaps they had a version back then without gluten and now they’ve gone to adding it. If you need a gluten free version, I recommend making your own. There are good copycat recipes out their for the Good Seasoning Italian Dressing Mix on All Recipes and other sites. If you’re celiac, it’s worth it to make your own and not have to worry about having a reaction.

  • Easy French Dressing – Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen

    June 6, 2015 at 10:43 am

    […] Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings […]

  • Karen

    April 20, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Teresa

    I love that you are trying to get a healthier version of Olive Garden dressing – I love it too. Unfortunately my biggest beef with it is the GMO ingredients, like the high fructose corn syrup. Just wanted you to know that Kraft is a big proponent of GMO ingredients, and in they salad mixes they list citric acid (no longer made from fruit but black mold) and “natural flavorings” which is another name that high fructose corn syrup goes under.

    1. Teresa

      April 20, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks, Karen. It’s so discouraging what these large conglomerates are doing to our food supply. I don’t like using High Fructose Corn Syrup either. I had no idea that citric acid was made from mold. I had heard that natural flavorings sometimes included MSG and other preservatives, but had not heard that it was a cover for High Fructose Corn Syrup. If you find some healthier ingredients to use, please let me know.

  • Recipes For Healthy Eating At Olive Garden « Healthfood Tips

    March 16, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    […] Healthy Olive Garden Salad Copycat Dressings – Can’t Stay Out … – Then I substituted honey for the corn syrup in one recipe and honey for the sugar in the other recipe. I also substituted olive oil … black pepper help bring out the tastes you’re used to when eating Olive Garden’s … the recipes. HEALTHY OLIVE GARDEN SALAD & COPYCAT DRESSINGS (Recipe … […]

  • Chicken in Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Sauce – Can't Stay Out Of The Kitchen

    September 4, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    […] If you time everything right, this main dish with pasta can be made in just over an hour. Add a side salad or veggie and you’re good to go. My family has always enjoyed pasta, so serving chicken over […]

  • Weekly Meal Plan Suggestions – Week 13 – Can't Stay Out Of The Kitchen

    January 26, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    […] Healthy Olive Garden Copycat Salad Dressings (and Salad) […]

  • Northern Italian Stuffed Shells – Can't Stay Out Of The Kitchen

    November 29, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    […] Serve with your favorite bread, garlic bread, foccacia bread and salad. […]

  • Creamy Ham, Veggies and Noodle Bake – Can't Stay Out Of The Kitchen

    October 8, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    […] This delicious one-dish meal is a complete meal in and of itself, although you can always add a side salad, fruit, or thick slices of homemade bread to go along with it. This satisfying comfort meal has […]

  • Whole Wheat Greek Bread – Can't Stay Out Of The Kitchen

    September 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    […] Whole Wheat Greek Bread is excellent served alongside my Healthy Olive Garden Salad and Copy Cat Dressings. […]

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.