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What is Tuscan Italian dressing?

Italian dressing is a salad dressing that originated in the United States as a version of the vinaigrette that hails from Italy. There are many variations of Italian dressing, with one popular type being Tuscan Italian dressing.

What are the main ingredients in Tuscan Italian dressing?

The primary ingredients in Tuscan Italian dressing include:

  • Olive oil – Tuscan Italian dressings are oil-based, with olive oil being a key component. Olive oil provides a rich, fruity flavor.
  • Vinegar – Balsamic, red wine, white wine, or apple cider vinegars are commonly used to provide acidity and tanginess.
  • Herbs – Basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and other Italian herb blends flavor Tuscan dressings.
  • Spices – Garlic, onion, black pepper, mustard powder, and red pepper flakes add depth.
  • Sugar or honey – A touch of sweetness balances out the acidity.
  • Salt and pepper – Salt enhances the other flavors while pepper adds a subtle spiciness.
  • Parmesan cheese – Grated or shredded parmesan offers a savory, umami edge.

The combination of olive oil, vinegar, herbs, spices, and cheese creates the robust flavor profile that distinguishes Tuscan dressings from other vinaigrettes.

What is the flavor and texture of Tuscan Italian dressing?

Tuscan Italian dressing has a luxuriously thick, creamy texture thanks to the olive oil base. It coats the tongue and leaves a rich, oily taste behind. The flavor strikes a complex balance between the fruity olive oil, sharp vinegar, savory cheese, aromatic herbs, spices, and sweetness. No single flavor overpowers the others. Instead, they all come together harmoniously with alternating notes of tangy, sweet, savory, and spicy.

Here are some words commonly used to describe the taste of Tuscan Italian dressing:

  • Fruity and bright from the olive oil
  • Sharp, tangy acidity from the vinegar
  • Savory umami from the Parmesan
  • Fresh green flavors from the abundance of herbs
  • Warmth from the garlic, onions, and spices
  • A hint of sweetness to round out the medley of flavors

The result is a rich, complex flavor that makes your taste buds sing with each bite of salad when you drizzle on this dressing.

What types of salads does Tuscan dressing pair well with?

The bold, robust taste of Tuscan Italian dressing pairs beautifully with these salad ingredients:

  • Greens – Tuscan dressing stands up to assertive greens like kale, spinach, arugula, radicchio, endive, and romaine.
  • Vegetables – Hearty roasted veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus, and eggplant.
  • Cheeses – Sharp flavors like parmesan, gorgonzola, goat, feta, provolone, mozzarella.
  • Fresh herbs – Basil, parsley, oregano, chives.
  • Olives – Kalamata, green, or black olives.
  • Crunchy toppings – Croutons, nuts, or seeds.
  • Protein – Grilled chicken, salmon, prosciutto, salami.

The commanding presence of Tuscan dressing prevents lighter flavors like lettuce and cucumber from getting lost. It also perfectly coats pasta and grain salads. In addition to salads, this versatile dressing can be used as a marinade, sandwich spread, or dipping sauce.

What is the difference between Tuscan dressing and other Italian dressings?

While all Italian dressings contain a similar base of oil, vinegar, and Italian herbs and spices, Tuscan dressing stands apart with these distinguishing characteristics:

Tuscan Dressing Standard Italian Dressing
Thicker, creamier texture from more olive oil Thinner, more vinaigrette-like consistency
Robust herbal flavor often includes rosemary Lighter herb flavor focuses on basil, oregano, marjoram
Includes Parmesan cheese Typically no cheese
Savory, umami taste More tangy acidity
Higher ratio of oil to vinegar Lower ratio of oil to vinegar

So in summary, Tuscan dressing has a more rustic flavor profile compared to generic Italian thanks to more olive oil, intense herbs like rosemary, the savoriness of Parmesan, and a well-balanced oil and vinegar blend.

What are some brand name examples of Tuscan dressing?

Some popular brand name versions of bottled Tuscan dressing include:

  • Kraft Tuscan House Italian Dressing
  • Wish-Bone Tuscan Herb Dressing
  • Ken’s Steak House Tuscan Italian Dressing
  • Newman’s Own Tuscan Italian Dressing
  • Brianna’s Tuscan Dressing
  • Girard’s Tuscan Style Dressing
  • Marzetti Tuscan Herb Dressing

Certain brands may put their own spin on the dressing with unique ingredient tweaks, but they aim to capture the signature Tuscan dressing flavor at the core.

How do you make homemade Tuscan dressing?

Making homemade Tuscan dressing only requires 10 minutes of prep time. Here is an easy recipe to try at home:


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Italian herb blend
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. In a bowl or jar, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, garlic, Italian herb blend, basil, oregano, rosemary, Dijon mustard, sugar or honey, and Parmesan cheese.
  2. Whisk thoroughly or shake vigorously until emulsified and combined.
  3. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Shake or whisk again before serving to re-emulsify.

Making your own Tuscan dressing allows you to tweak flavors to your taste preferences. Add more herbs, garlic, or spices if you like things extra zesty.

What tips can elevate your Tuscan dressing?

Here are some ideas for taking Tuscan dressing to the next level:

  • Use high quality extra virgin olive oil for depth of flavor
  • Select an aged balsamic vinegar for mellow sweetness
  • Get creative with the vinegar – try lemon, champagne, rice wine, sherry
  • Infuse the olive oil with garlic and herbs for 30 minutes before making the dressing
  • Up the herb quotient with additions like chives, dill, chervil, tarragon
  • Stir in some diced sun-dried tomatoes for texture and brightness
  • Top the salad with an extra drizzle of olive oil before serving
  • Garnish with toasted pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds
  • Use freshly grated Parmesan rather than pre-grated for intense umami
  • Finish with a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat

Don’t be afraid to experiment and make Tuscan dressing your own. Tailor the recipe to highlight your favorite ingredients and flavors.

What are some Tuscan dressing substitute options?

If you don’t have the ingredients for Tuscan dressing on hand, these make suitable substitutions:

  • Italian dressing – The standard version works nicely.
  • Balsamic vinaigrette – Adds tangy sweetness.
  • Red wine vinaigrette – Provides acidic brightness.
  • Caesar dressing – Imparts rich, savory flavor.
  • Greek dressing – Brings creaminess and herbaceousness.
  • Ranch dressing – Contributes cool, herbal taste.
  • Blue cheese dressing – Supplies similar texture and robustness.

For best results, look for a substitute dressing that has an oil base and includes herbs and spices. Avoid lighter vinaigrettes to match the heartiness of Tuscan dressing. And consider adding a sprinkle of Parmesan to enhance the umami profile.

What wines pair well with Tuscan dressing?

The following wines complement Tuscan dressing’s medley of bold, intense flavors:

  • Chianti – This fruity, medium-bodied Tuscan red has enough body and acidity to stand up to the dressing.
  • Sangiovese – The flagship grape of Tuscany makes a perfect pairing.
  • Montepulciano – This well-rounded Italian red wine delivers berry flavors.
  • Chardonnay – An oaked California Chardonnay matches the creaminess.
  • Pinot Grigio – The crisp, dry, fruity notes contrast nicely with the dressing.
  • Sauvignon Blanc – Choose a zesty New Zealand SB for acidity.
  • Rosé – A food-friendly rosé from Provence or Italy helps cut the richness.

Focus on wines with enough acidity, fruit, and structure to stand up to the intense dressing. The wines should complement, not overpower or clash with the flavors. Light, delicate wines would be overwhelmed.

How can you use up leftover Tuscan dressing?

Don’t let that extra Tuscan dressing go to waste. Here are creative ways to use up leftovers:

  • Toss with roasted or grilled vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms, and bell peppers
  • Marinate chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp before cooking
  • Drizzle over pasta, grain bowls, or panzanella salads
  • Use as a sandwich or wrap spread
  • Incorporate into potato, tuna, egg, or chicken salads
  • Blend with canned beans like chickpeas for an instant side dish
  • Sauté greens like kale, spinach, or chard in the dressing
  • Add to soups, stews, or chilis for flavor
  • Brush over proteins before baking or grilling
  • Dip for breads, focaccia, or bruschetta

With its dynamic flavor, Tuscan dressing can do far more than just coat salad greens. Get creative with leftovers to cut food waste and enjoy this versatile condiment to its full potential.


With its origins in the Italian region of Tuscany, Tuscan dressing delivers a luxuriously thick texture and an exquisitely balanced, complex flavor. Key ingredients like olive oil, vinegar, Parmesan, and herbs come together to create a hearty, robust dressing that coats salad greens beautifully. Tuscan dressing’s unique taste pairs particularly well with assertive greens, vegetables, cheeses, herbs, olives, and proteins. It stands apart from other Italian dressings with its inclusion of rosemary, Parmesan, and higher ratio of oil to vinegar. Whether buying a top brand or whipping up a batch at home, be sure to use high quality ingredients to let the flavors of Tuscan dressing shine through. This versatile condiment can elevate salads as well as marinades, sides, mains, and more when you get creative with leftovers. Sip on a glass of Chianti or Pinot Grigio and let the rustic tastes of Tuscany transport you with each flavorful bite of salad coated in this iconic dressing.