This oil-free, fat-free Italian dressing is easy to make and tastes so much better than store-bought low calorie salad dressings! Aquafaba replaces the oil, creating a fat-free vinaigrette. With the perfect balance of acid, salt, and herbs, you'll love the classic, zesty Italian flavor! No preservatives or stabilizers here, just real, wholesome ingredients.
Perfect for salads, drizzling on sandwiches and potatoes, and for lightened-up bean and pasta salads. Only 20 calories per serving!
Why You'll Love It
There's no shortage of oil-free salad dressing recipes on the blog, but what I didn't have yet was a vinaigrette-style dressing.
I was planning a new healthy vegan pasta salad recipe and really wanted to create an oil-free Italian dressing that would capture the nostalgic aromas and flavors of the quick and easy pasta salads I grew up with.
You probably know the dish I'm talking about - the classic pasta salad that always made an appearance at potlucks and parties - with olives, pasta, a few veggies, and bottled Italian vinaigrette.
The only ingredient I could think of that would possibly make a good sub for oil in salad dressing was aquafaba. And holy moly, y'all. It works like a dream!
Aquafaba keeps the dressing emulsified without the need for gums or other thickeners you find in store-bought dressings. And it's SO perfect on pasta salad!
But before you get too excited....
Don't expect a fat-free salad dressing to taste exactly like a traditional vinaigrette because, well, that's just impossible.
Our brains and tongues love fat, and a dressing with no fat and very low calories (less than 20 calories per serving) can't compete with biology. BUT I'm not gonna mince words, it is shockingly good! Don't take my word for it - check out the reviews below.
If you enjoy healthy salad dressings and sauces as much as I do, I really think this oil-free dressing is going to win you over!
It's lemon-y, tangy, zesty, just salty enough, SO fresh, and totally captures the classic Italian dressing vibe.
- Aquafaba is the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas and is critical to the recipe as written. It's slightly thick and viscous and makes a great replacement for oil in salad dressing.
Tip! After straining the aquafaba, use the chickpeas to make Vegan "Tuna" Salad, Curried Chickpea Salad, or Vegan "Chicken" Salad. And if you have aquafaba leftover, use it for Oil-Free Vegan Aquafaba Mayo!
- White wine vinegar is a delicate vinegar perfect for Italian dressing.
- Lemon juice lends even more brightness and acidity and adds a subtle sweetness.
- Fresh garlic gives the dressing an irresistible savoriness and zip, though you can substitute garlic powder, if preferred.
- A small amount of maple syrup balances the acidity and saltiness. Agave nectar is a good swap.
- Mellow white miso provides umami and saltiness and is an excellent sub for the Parmesan cheese typically found in Italian dressing. See this post to learn more about miso.
- Dried oregano and basil give the dressing its classic Italian flavor.
- Nutritional yeast also adds to the umami, cheesy vibes. I highly recommend this non-fortified nutritional yeast by Sari Foods. The flavor is infinitely better than the average nutritional yeast.
- Fresh parsley is nutritious, flavorful, and beautiful.
Need ways to use up the rest of the parsley? Try Parsley-Dill Pesto, Spicy Parsley Pesto, or Chickpea Patties.
Find ingredient amounts and complete instructions in the recipe card below.
All you need are 10 minutes, a bowl, a whisk, and a microplane zester/grater (for the clove of garlic) to make this salad dressing.
- First, whisk the miso into the aquafaba, lemon juice, and white wine vinegar until fully dissolved.
- Add the remaining ingredients and whisk again. Refrigerate until ready to use.
If you have time, allow the dressing to sit for at least an hour or two so the flavors can mingle. It will taste even better!
Tips and Substitutions
It's rare that I don't encourage substitutions in my recipes, but that's because with most recipes there's room for a little play.
But for this recipe it's important to try to follow it as closely as possible and measure accurately.
- For example, 1 teaspoon means exactly 1 level teaspoon, not rounded or heaping.
Unfortunately, I can't recommend any substitutions for the aquafaba, lemon, miso, or herbs.
If needed, garlic powder can be used instead of fresh, and red wine vinegar can be substituted for white.
It's possible you might like the dressing just fine without the nutritional yeast, but I'm not sure. So omit that one at your own risk!
Also, if you don't have maple syrup, agave nectar is an easy swap. Or if you strictly avoid added sugars, one reader reported that she doesn't add the maple syrup and it still tastes amazing!
Ways to Use It
Well, fat-free Italian dressing is delicious on salad, of course! But the flavors are also fantastic with potatoes. Try it on wedges, fries, and baked potatoes.
And the zestiness really cuts through heavier dishes and sandwiches. Pair it with seitan or baked or grilled tempeh and tofu.
Drizzle it on pizza for even more Italian flair!
And of course, pair this oil-free dressing with penne, rotini, or farfalle for a deliciously light pasta salad.
How to Store
Store oil-free dressing in a lidded jar or container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Since the recipe doesn't make a huge amount I haven't tried freezing it yet. But considering the ingredients, everything is freezer-friendly.
More Oil-Free Salad Dressings
RELATED: Don't miss this collection of our 13 favorite oil-free salad dressing recipes!
Oil-Free Italian Salad Dressing Recipe
- 3 tablespoons aquafaba - This is the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas; see ideas in post for using the chickpeas.
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons mellow white miso - or chickpea miso for soy-free.
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 clove of garlic, grated on a microplane
- 1 ½ teaspoons nutritional yeast - I recommend a non-fortified one for the best taste.
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- NOTES: this makes a fairly small amount of dressing, less than 1 cup (enough for 2 to 4 people). If preparing for a big batch of pasta salad or if you want to have leftovers, make a double batch.Also, I recommend making the dressing several hours in advance to allow time for the flavors to mingle.
- In a bowl combine the aquafaba, lemon juice and vinegar. Add the miso and whisk until the miso is dissolved.
- Add the remaining ingredients and whisk very well. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.