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People are obsessed with this copycat Olive Garden Salad Dressing recipe and it's easy to see why! It's easy to whip up and makes the best salads, full of crunchy romaine lettuce, thickly sliced roma tomatoes, crisp red onions, tangy pepperoncini peppers, and buttery croutons! Don't forget the Parmesan cheese on top!
We love serving homemade salad dressings at dinner! Not only do they use fresh, real ingredients, but they are super quick to make and always taste better than store-bought dressings. Some of our other favorite salad dressing recipes are Creamy Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing, Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing, Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing, and Papaya Seed Dressing.
I can't be the only one who fills up on salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden. By the time my meal arrived, I was already so full I could hardly eat a bite of my actual dinner! Which always worked out fine because then I had leftover lasagna for the next day (and we all know lasagna is better the next day anyway).
It's been ages since I have eaten at Olive Garden, but when I was growing up, it was one of my favorite restaurants. My family always DEVOURED that big bowl of salad with the freshly grated Parmesan on top. I'm the first to admit that salads generally just aren't my thing, but this one is so fresh and savory and full of amazing texture and flavors that I find myself craving it.
And honestly? It's even better made at home. Olive Garden salad is made with a tangy, slightly creamy, Italian vinaigrette. It's a cinch to make at home starting with a packet of Italian dressing mix and adding in a few extras like Parmesan cheese, even more herbs, and a little mayo for thickness.
What ingredients are in an Olive Garden Salad?
- Romaine lettuce (or a blend of romaine and iceberg), chopped
- Roma tomatoes, sliced
- Red onion, sliced
- Olives (I always leave out the olives because I don't like them. I have very few food aversions, but olives are one of them, right along with bleu cheese and carrots. But totally add olives if you want!)
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
What do pepperoncinis taste like?
If' you've never had pepperoncini (sometimes called banana peppers), you might be concerned that their level of heat. But really, pepperoncinis are more tangy than spicy. My dad used to ask for an entire bowl of them on the side of the salad because he loved them so much!
You can find jars of pepperoncinis in the olive/pickle aisle. You won't need the entire jar to make this salad, so use the leftovers for Mississippi Pot Roast.
How to make Olive Garden Salad Dressing
- Combine olive oil, mayonnaise, dry Italian dressing mix, salt, pepper, garlic powder, sugar, basil, oregano, Parmesan cheese and whisk together.
- Store in the fridge for 1 hour to allow the flavors to combine and the dressing to thicken slightly.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce with the tomatoes, onion, pepperoncinis, olives, and croutons.
- Pour dressing over the salad and toss everything to combine. Sprinkle with additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese before serving.
Can I make this Olive Garden Salad Dressing Without Mayo?
This recipe uses just a little mayo, which gives the dressing it's slightly creamy texture, but it's good without the mayo if you choose not to use it. You can also substitute the mayo with Greek yogurt, although the flavor is slightly different.
What Does Olive Garden Salad Go Best With?
Honestly, the flavors in this salad go really well with almost any main dish. You really can't go wrong! But it's fun to serve this salad with other Olive Garden classics like zuppa toscana, lasagna, and chicken marsala. And I recommend trying these cheesy garlic mozzarella swirl rolls in place of breadsticks!
More Salad Recipes You're Sure to Love
- Spinach, Bacon & Egg Salad with Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing
- Grilled Corn Salad
- Creamy Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing
- Chopped Kale Salad
- Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
- Winter Pear, Pomegranate & Swiss Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
- Roasted Beet Salad
Copycat Olive Garden Salad Dressing
- 1 packet Italian dressing mix
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon parsley
- ⅛ teaspoon oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon rosemary
- ⅛ teaspoon basil
- 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 1 head romaine lettuce chopped (about 4-6 cups)
- 2 roma tomatoes sliced
- ½ small red onion sliced
- 10 pepperoncinis
- 10 olives optional
- 1 cup large croutons
- Additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
- Whisk or shake all of the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or shaker jar. Chill for 1 hour.
- Combine lettuce, tomatoes, onion, pepperoncinis, olives (if using), and croutons in a large salad bowl. Pour ⅓ of the dressing over the top and toss to combine. Taste and add more dressing as desired.
- Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top before serving.