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What is Riviera dressing made of?

Riviera dressing, sometimes called French dressing, is a creamy, tangy salad dressing popular in the United States. But what ingredients go into this classic dressing? Let’s take a closer look at the main components that give Riviera dressing its distinctive flavor profile.


The base of Riviera dressing is oil. Traditionally, a blend of vegetable oils is used, such as canola, corn, soybean, or sunflower oil. The oil emulsifies with the other ingredients to create the dressing’s creamy texture. About 3/4 cup of oil goes into a standard Riviera dressing recipe.


Vinegar provides the tangy flavor in Riviera dressing. White wine vinegar or champagne vinegar is commonly used, as they offer a mild acidity that complements the other ingredients. About 1/4 cup of vinegar is added to balance out the richness of the oil. The vinegar also acts as an emulsifier.


Sugar balances out the acidity from the vinegar and adds sweetness to the dressing. White sugar is most often used. About 2 to 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar are typically added to Riviera dressing.

Salt and Pepper

Salt and ground black pepper season the dressing. The salt enhances the other flavors, while the pepper provides a touch of spiciness. Around 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper is standard.

Egg Yolks

Egg yolks help thicken and enrich Riviera dressing. About 2 to 3 egg yolks are usually incorporated. The lecithin in the egg yolks acts as an emulsifier to help blend the ingredients smoothly.


Mustard adds tangy flavor to the dressing and also aids in emulsion. Dijon and/or dry mustard are commonly used. Around 1 to 2 teaspoons of mustard is added.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs like parsley, tarragon, basil, oregano, and chives are sometimes used to provide fresh flavor notes. Spices such as paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce can also be added to taste.

Thickening Agents

For even more thickness and stability, some Riviera dressing recipes will include thickening agents like flour, cornstarch, or xanthan gum. About 1 teaspoon is usually sufficient.


Since Riviera dressing has a creamy appearance, turmeric or paprika may be added to give it a rich yellow-orange color. Only a small amount is needed to achieve the desired shade.


Commercial Riviera dressings may contain preservatives like potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate to extend shelf life. Homemade versions without preservatives should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a few days.

The Basic Recipe

So in summary, the most basic Riviera dressing includes:

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (white wine or champagne)
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2-3 egg yolks
  • 1-2 teaspoons mustard (Dijon or dry)

Herbs, spices, colorings, and thickeners can be added as desired. But these core ingredients are what set the foundation for the creamy, tangy flavor that makes Riviera dressing so popular.

Riviera Dressing Variations

While the basic formula stays largely the same, there are many variations on Riviera dressing out there. Some examples include:

Thousand Island Dressing

This riff on Riviera dressing includes ketchup or chili sauce for added sweetness and tomato flavor. Finely chopped pickles or olives are also commonly added for texture and tang.

Green Goddess Dressing

This version uses avocado oil for a rich green color. Lots of fresh herbs like tarragon, parsley, and chives are added. Anchovies often provide a savory, umami kick.

Blue Cheese Dressing

Real blue cheese crumbles are mixed into the dressing, giving it a chunky texture and potent flavor.

Ranch Dressing

Ranch swaps out some of the vinegar for tangy buttermilk. Dill, garlic, onion, and other herbs amp up the flavor.

Russian Dressing

For Russian dressing, ketchup and chili sauce provide sweetness. Horseradish and Worcestershire sauce add spicy, savory notes.

Tips for Making Riviera Dressing

For homemade Riviera dressing, follow these tips for best results:

  • Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature for proper emulsification.
  • Add the oil very slowly at first to form an emulsion.
  • Use a wire whisk, immersion blender, or food processor to combine.
  • Start with a little less oil, then adjust to reach desired consistency.
  • Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving for best flavor.
  • Store homemade dressing in the fridge and use within 3-4 days.

Serving Suggestions

Riviera dressing can transform a plain green salad into something special. But it also pairs well with many other dishes and ingredients, such as:

  • Fresh vegetables – carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes
  • Wedge salads or iceberg lettuce
  • Coleslaw
  • French fries or fried veggies
  • Sandwiches and burgers
  • Chicken, seafood, or pasta salads
  • Hard boiled eggs

A creamy, tangy Riviera dressing can be versatile addition to many menus. While oil, vinegar, and egg yolks make up its base, the possibilities for customizing with herbs, spices, and other mix-ins are endless.


Riviera dressing brings together oil, egg yolks, vinegar, mustard, and seasonings to create a lush, flavorful salad topper. While the ingredients are rather simple, they meld together into a complex, crave-worthy dressing. With its rich creaminess offset by a refreshing zing, it’s no wonder why Riviera remains a go-to choice for salads after all these years. A sprinkle of herbs or dash of spice can easily turn the basic recipe into endless flavor variations. Next time you make or order salad, consider livening it up with a drizzle of Riviera dressing.