This fat-free Italian dressing is easy to make and tastes so much better than store-bought "light" 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. Approximately 20 calories per serving.
Why We Love This Recipe
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 pasta salad recipe and really wanted to create an oil-free dressing that would capture the nostalgic aromas and flavors of the quick and easy pasta salads I grew up with. You probably know exactly what I'm talking about, the dish that always made an appearance at potlucks and parties, with olives, pasta, a few veggies, and bottled vinaigrette.
Aquafaba was the only ingredient I could think of that might possibly work as a replacement for oil while keeping the appearance of a vinaigrette. And holy moly, y'all. It totally works!
Aquafaba keeps the dressing emulsified without the need for gums or anything weird like you find in store-bought dressings. And it's SO perfect on pasta salad!
But before you get too excited....
Don't expect fat-free Italian dressing to taste exactly like a dressing made with heaps of oil because, well, that's just impossible. Our brains and tongues love fat, and a dressing with zero fat and less than 20 calories just can't compete with biology. BUT if you enjoy healthy dressings and sauces as much as I do, this oil-free dressing is totally going to win you over!
It's lemon-y, tangy, zesty, just salty enough, SO fresh, and it 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. After straining the aquafaba, use the chickpeas to make Vegan Tuna Salad, Curried Chickpea Salad, or Pasta 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 garlic powder can be substituted if needed.
- A small amount of maple syrup balances the acidity and saltiness.
- Mellow white miso provides umami and saltiness and is an excellent sub for the Parmesan cheese typically found in Italian dressing.
- 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.
- 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 Tabbouleh 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 (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 that the flavors can mingle. This makes it 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.
Well, fat-free Italian dressing is great 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, meatier types of 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 Italian dressing with penne, rotini, or farfalle for a deliciously light pasta salad.
More oil-free salad dressings:
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
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 clove of garlic, grated on a microplane
- 1 ½ teaspoons nutritional yeast - I recomment this non-fortified one by Sari Foods.
- 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 making for a big batch of pasta salad or if you want plenty of leftovers, use the toggle button above to change the ingredient amounts to a double batch. Also, I recommend making this 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. For the most accurate nutrition information we recommend calculating it yourself to reflect the specific ingredients used in your dish.