11 Store-Bought Italian Dressing Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

When you shake a bottle of store-bought Italian dressing over your salad, you expect it to add exciting flavor to the bowl, not make things weird and greasy and sad. The basic recipe may be a straightforward zesty combination of oil, vinegar, and taste bud-tingling seasonings, but that doesn't mean every bottle holds the same magic. Done right, this simple mix can add zing that makes any salad sing; get the blend wrong, and you could be in for a heart-dropping topping that disappoints. Good luck rinsing poorly made Italian dressing off of your salad to rescue a meal-ruining mistake.

Having bottled options handy instead of having to concoct your own homemade Italian dressing lets this peppy vinaigrette become a problem solver, flavoring everything from tossed iceberg to chopped veggies to marinated chicken. We collected a dozen of the most readily available brands and got our tongues wagging for an old-fashioned taste test. We judged consistency, balance of flavors, oil-to-vinegar ratios, quality of ingredients, and, of course, overall taste to rank our options. So which ones are best for shaking up your salad creations and which are destined to leave you flat? Here's our take on the Italian dressings that put your salad in the running for Best Dressed, and the ones you might want to leave off your list.

11. Simple Truth Organic

Organic ingredients bottled for your enjoyment are part and parcel of what Simple Truth is all about. This Kroger line offers an array of products stamped with the organic seal, including an Italian dressing that caught our attention. How could we not be entranced by a cleaner, healthier version of a dressing we use weekly? Sure, it's a premium selection with a price that reflects its elevated status. But if we can feel good about drowning our romaine and tomatoes under ingredients grown without pesticides, it's worth paying extra, right?

Not in this case. The well-blended appearance tricked us into believing we'd be tasting an exceptional dressing with all the right parts in all the right places. What a shame that the flavor was nothing even close to what the peekaboo bottle hinted at. The taste was highly woody, almost to the point of seeming stale. The label boasts Romano cheese and the usual suspects as far as seasonings. Somehow, the results don't add up to the right sum, and this dressing is one we wish we hadn't tried at all. Despite the organic status, the flatness of the flavor — with flavor being the main goal of a proper Italian dressing — was enough to deter any future purchases and to rank this bottle last on the list.

10. Market Pantry

Target tosses its chef's hat in the Italian dressing ring with Market Pantry, the company's budget-level home label. Giving shoppers a more affordable option is a sensible idea, considering the array of name brands that Target shelves. Why not produce a competing bottle and see if there's room for a new favorite in red shopping baskets and on home tables? It definitely seems worth a try for anyone making their grocery money count, and an easy grab for Target Super Center shoppers picking up home décor and electronics in the same store as their salad fixings.

Not only does Target miss the bullseye with its Italian dressing, it doesn't even hit the board. This bottle is thoroughly oily tasting, with lots of chunks suspended inside a viscous version of what Italian dressing can become when the recipe goes wrong. It wasn't appealing in the least, and in fact, proved to be one of the bigger disappointments of our taste test. We knew that not every formulation would hit the mark, but to find one so subpar at one of the most cherished retailers on the scene was a surprise we still haven't recovered from. We take our Italian dressing seriously around here. Sadly, Market Pantry falls far short in terms of flavor, texture, and all-around enjoyability, though for its price point, it could make a decent substitute if you're watching your cash closely.

9. Wish-Bone

It's wise to temper your hope for good luck when you break open a bottle of Italian dressing from Wish-Bone. That's surprising, considering it's one of the bigger brands in the salad dressing game. The company has an established record of creating favorable and flavorful toppings for greens and veggies that double as marinades, dips, and more. With over 40 different salad dressing possibilities in all and more than 70 years of providing dependable products to the public, Wish-Bone is a true presence in the game. It's a simple leap of logic, then, to presume its Italian dressing would be a top pick.

The real deal about Wish-Bone: Your favorite salad recipes aren't likely to be enhanced by including this dressing in the mix. There's too much vinegar in each pour, masking the other ingredients. A little garlic comes through as an aftertaste, but you have to clear the acidic tang to get to it. By then, you'll be ready for the next bite, and the process will start all over again. The prospect of a numb tongue and a burning throat is sure to make the rest of your meal taste odd. Maybe the recipe has changed in recent years, or maybe others have made strides in crafting flavors with better balance. Still, it does capture that fiery Italian spirit, so it's better than nothing.

8. Ken's Steak House

Originally offering its signature Italian dressing as an option in its Massachusetts restaurant, Ken's Steak House puts a gourmet spin on the otherwise straightforward blend of traditional herbs and spices. Though the food company is owned and operated by the same family that originated the restaurant, there's a chance that something gets lost in the translation from table to bottle. Can you depend on Ken's to turn your dining room table into a true trattoria when the salad arrives?

You can, but only if you don't like salad very much. We were hoping this version had something special to offer, a pedigree among Italian dressings that justifies the company's expanding product line. Unfortunately, despite the presence of Parmesan smoothing out a bumpy ride between tart and tangy, Ken's dressing has a strange taste that flattens everything else. There's a woody essence here that comes across as cardboard-like if such a description can be applied to a salad dressing. With a higher price and an element of prestige that should set this bottle above some of the other options on the list, we fully expected Ken's to put the shakedown on its competitors. If it was all that was available, we wouldn't say no, but we found much more favorable flavors in our search.

7. Kraft

Kraft is one of the most prevalent pushers of condiments in the bottled dressing business, with its Italian dressing as a cornerstone of its operation. To last as long as this packaged food powerhouse has, there has to be an assurance of quality that helps customers make easy shopping decisions without too much confusion. There's also a possibility that familiarity breeds a sort of numbness, as if the name alone causes a reaction instead of genuine excitement about the product. You've always bought Kraft salad dressings, you may reason as you cruise through the grocery aisle. Why would you stop now?

Maybe because there are better options available. This isn't to say that Kraft dressing is a bad choice; the company that mastered packaged mac & cheese makes a passable bottle of Italian dressing, with that vinaigrette zip you know and love. But while this blend is familiar and dependable, it is not exactly thrilling. After years of using other brands, circling back to relive the Kraft dressing experience filled us with excitement that wasn't rewarded with anything special. So if it's a staple on your shopping list and you don't have the time or energy to take another bottle for a test drive, you'll probably be satisfied, even if there are zippier models on the road now. We knew we could find a better fit. 

6. Bernstein's

Bernstein's is a restaurant-level purveyor of dressings that aims for a more upscale salad experience. This company is playing the long game, having launched as a deli 1906 and keeping pace with the grocery industry for decades. By now, an organization that is seemingly this dedicated to its longevity should have mastered the art of bottled Italian dressing. Certainly, adding "Restaurant Recipe" to the label is a haughty claim to make if you can't back it up with whatever pours out of the spout. Does Bernstein's boldness bear out in the bottle?

It certainly does. This perky pour gave us an immediate kick in the salivary glands, tingling on our tongue in a fun and flavorful way. Then a smoother cheese essence showed up to mellow things out, and we realized we'd tasted a similar formulation somewhere else ... at Olive Garden. This is as near to a carbon copy of the Italian chain's famous dressing as we've found outside of the OG brand itself. There's a different dissolve on the tongue than the real Olive Garden take on Italian dressing, something earthier but no less pleasing to our palate. If you can't find actual Olive Garden dressing when you're shopping, Bernstein's makes a great second choice.

5. Olive Garden

The wildly popular family-style salad at Olive Garden enjoys its status due in large part to the fantastic dressing that is used in every oversized bowl, making it so popular an item on the Olive Garden menu that you can order just salad and breadsticks as your entire meal. We've done it more than once, and we'll probably do it again. 

In the meantime, having a bottled version of the super satisfying dressing means the time between Olive Garden visits can get longer and longer, and we can dress every salad we make in this wildly flavorful mixture. But is that something we really want to do? Not if the flavor from the store-bought version doesn't live up to the legacy.

So how does it fare? Fantastically, though it isn't quite 100%. The essence of the familiar Olive Garden recipe casts its familiar spell, though it seems a little creamier and less zingy than the restaurant version. That's us being picky, though. It's still a favorable addition to your refrigerator for salad time. With the bottle in your hand, you can control how much you add to the bowl, rather than relying on Olive Garden chefs to get the balance of lettuce-to-dressing just the way you like it. With just a bit more tingle, this home version could have risen even higher in the rankings. So close!

4. Great Value

If a fair shake at decently priced Italian dressing is what you're craving, you can always give Walmart's Great Value version a try. We love a bargain, especially in a product that is doled out as generously as salad dressing often is. Great Value has a hit-or-miss reputation with its generic replicas of better-known brand-name items, putting this touchy pick on the ropes before we even cracked it open. Part of the appeal was finding a petite 8-ounce bottle next to the full-sized 16-ounce bottle. While the price wasn't split in half, being able to sample a smaller amount made giving Great Value a test run a no-brainer.

As it turns out, this no-brainer revealed a genius example of how fantastic store-brand Italian dressing can be. The taste was surprisingly zesty, the texture smooth and pourable, and the distribution of spices and seasonings fairly even throughout our sample pour. Maybe the secret to a supreme Italian dressing is a trick Great Value seems to get right: A simple combination of the basics works best. We wouldn't hesitate to grab a bottle and proudly serve it atop a party salad, no matter the occasion. And of course, it's a must-have for home use, too. A touch more creativity and this one could have cracked the top three!

3. California Pizza Kitchen

It's not all pizza at California Pizza Kitchen, despite what the name suggests. You can also find an array of salads, and with great salads comes great Italian dressing — or an attempt at it, anyway. This selection is part of the store-based CPK dressing line-up, which includes other jazzy flavors like Sriracha Ranch and Citrus Poppyseed, options reminiscent of similar dressings found flavoring up menu salads in the company's restaurants. Even with a restaurant-level template to follow, how much sunshine could this Golden State eatery really capture in an Italian dressing?

Happily, this bottle is a sunny surprise through and through. Though we did give it a shake to make sure the seasonings were well-blended, the consistency was fully emulsified on first pour — a fantastic change in a world of greasy, gluey Italian vinaigrettes made from ingredients that separate easily on the shelf. Rather than launching a full-blown savory assault on the taste buds, the restaurant's store-bought dressing made a stealthy approach with mellow notes of citrus, something none of the others on the list have. The ingredients list reveals orange juice concentrate as a high-ranking ingredient, logical considering the stellar reputation of the California citrus scene. For creativity and execution, as well as innovative flavor, we put this one pretty high on the list. But while Great Value really is a great value for a good dressing, it needed more oomph to make it past third place.

2. Newman's Own

None other than Paul Newman, the famed actor and patriarch of organic prepared foods, put his mug on bottles of Newman's Own Family Recipe Italian Dressing. The notion of a celebrity product line is nothing new, and even this enterprise has been going steady and strong for decades. Salad dressing happened to be the flagship offering that started the Academy Award-winning actor on his way to culinary entrepreneurship. But a pretty face on an artful label isn't always a recipe for success, and there's more to crafting a winning Italian dressing than just starting your own company. How likely is it that a superstar's passion project can succeed in such a contentious shopping sphere?

We're pleased to report that Newman's Own continues its ongoing tradition of supplying superior products with this punchy Italian dressing entry. The flavor is restaurant quality, tending toward the tangier end of the spectrum, with plenty of garlic and Romano cheese present. The blend is what we consider accomplished, something that may have taken a bit of tinkering before striking the right tone. When we tasted it, we could have sworn we heard mandolins and opera playing in the distance. Despite its considerable charms, Newman's Own didn't hit all the right chords for us ... it needed just a little more zing to top the entire list. 

1. Kroger

There's no reason not to try Kroger's version of Italian dressing, especially considering the price difference between this signature label and some of the bigger brands on the chopping block. While the company offers more premium house brands like Private Selection, the Kroger label is the option that brings prices down into the comfort zone, a helpful aspect when choosing what amounts to a luxury item. After all, a squeeze of lemon is enough to dress a salad instead of Italian dressing in any form. But have you seen the price of lemons these days? Talk about luxury items. It's good to have a value-friendly possibility when your greens cry out for something stronger. Could Kroger be the one?

We think it can be! The label promises a zesty pour, and the contents of the bottle deliver on that promise. It's by far the best and brightest of the bunch, with all the spices showing up in proper proportions and the vinegar staying in its lane. The consistency provides a pleasant ooze from the pour spout as well, showing no signs of the gummy goo we found in other dressings. All in all, it's the perfect formula and our top pick for store-bought Italian dressings. 

A moderately-priced, well-balanced bottle like this will take up permanent residence in our pantry, and we'll be sure to keep it on hand for future use when the open bottle in the fridge turns up empty ... which should happen any minute now.

How we chose and ranked our Italian dressings

To collect a fair and representative sampling of Italian dressings for our taste test, we looked for brands of various notoriety, from well-known names like Kraft and Wish-Bone to lesser-known possibilities like Bernstein's. To make sure we had a balanced selection, we also aimed for affordable and accessible grocery store house brands like Kroger and Great Value. 

We chose the most straightforward versions of Italian dressing we could find for each brand, bypassing fancier recipes with extra or non-traditional ingredients. We then tasted a sample from each bottle and evaluated the flavor, freshness, and texture. The results present a vast array of formulations of similar ingredients, each offering a take on Italian dressing that creates the personal taste spectrum our ranking represents.