After a weekend of less-than-healthy eating — the Super Bowl has that effect — I figured it was high-time to post one of my all-time favorite salad dressings.  In fact, this dressing is so special that I decided to give it its own post (tune in tomorrow for the perfect salad).  While Italian, ranch and blue cheese might hold the throne as America’s favorite salad dressings, I’d like to introduce you to what you’ve been missing out on — poppy seed dressing.  I know, I know.  Poppy seeds? While you might be wondering how poppy seeds could still be relevant, especially in a salad dressing, consider the words of Kay Rentschler from her New York Times article on this misunderstood spice, “Ultimately, it is as a finely granular, dusky backdrop that poppy seeds make their point best, a point well articulated in the presence of lemon or orange peel, the smoke of sweet spices or the fragrant notes of honey or orange flower oil.”  Sounds like they might find a nice home in a unique sweet and sour salad dressing, doesn’t it?

Romanticism aside, I’ve eaten this dressing since I was a boy, on salads as varied as tender red leaf lettuce with grapefruit segments and blue cheese to sturdy spinach leaves with strawberries and feta — you really can’t go wrong.  In fact, the beauty of this dressing is its ability to compliment ripe fruit regardless of season.  Wintertime salad? Use crisp apples or tangy orange segments for a refreshing contrast to this dressing’s sweet notes.  Have pears from the farmers market lying around?  Toss them in as a sweet foil to the same tangy dressing.

As tasty as it is beautiful, this one-of-a-kind dressing is worth making for the work week when you’re in the need of something light and refreshing. Whip up a batch in the blender, throw it in your fridge and eat like a king for the week.


Adapted from San Francisco à la Carte

If you don’t have a blender, this dressing can be made the old-fashioned way, by emulsifying the dressing with a good wire whisk.  I like to use apple cider vinegar, but if you don’t have any on-hand, feel free to use white wine or distilled vinegar.  When it comes time to finely grate the red onion, use the small holes on a box grater for best results and flavor.  When adding the oil, make sure you pour it in slowly to achieve a nice, even emulsion.  This is a resilient salad dressing that will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator if stored correctly, but don’t be afraid to halve the recipe if you wish; it still turns out wonderfully.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoons mustard (I use Coleman’s)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt or 2 teaspoons Kosher
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely grated red onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds


  1. Pour the olive and canola oil into a measuring cup and set aside.
  2. Add the sugar, mustard, red onion and salt to the jar of a blender.  Pour in the vinegar and blend on high until the sugar has thoroughly dissolved.
  3. With the motor still running, remove the lid from the blender and pour in the combined oils in a steady stream until emulsified.
  4. Pour the dressing into a jar, add the poppy seeds and shake or stir the dressing to combine.  Seal the jar tightly and refrigerate until use.

Makes about 2 cups

Related Posts with Thumbnails
    • mjf
    • February 9th, 2010

    Thanks, Mike. Wonderful addition to your collection. The poppy seeds give it a unique look and taste. Looking forward to your salad following.

    • Melissa
    • February 9th, 2010

    Love this dressing! So happy to have the recipe!

  1. Poppy seed dressing has always been one of my favorites. I’m guilty of buying it by the bottle, but thrilled to see this homemade version.

    • Kevin
    • February 9th, 2010

    Talk about a classic. The variety of your posts really make me a more well-rounded cook. No longer am I chained to the grill or asian cuisines.

    Can I request you make shrimp po boy in celebration of the Saints Super Bowl victory?

    • Joseph
    • February 9th, 2010

    My wife just made this for me last night and I ate some for lunch today! Amazing! Way better than any store-bought salad dressing I’ve ever had. No more Jamaican Mistake for me…as long as the wife keeps making it for me. Thanks!

    P.S. I second the shrimp po’ boy request

  2. Love this dressing! Yum. Great photo!

  3. that poppyseed dressing looks great! i can’t get enough of poppyseeds, i’m going to have to try and make this soon with my new hand immersion blender =)