What Does French Dressing Taste Like?

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Wondering what French dressing tastes like? We'll tell you everything you need to know about the taste and texture. Plus, we'll explain the differences between French, Russian and Thousand Island dressing.

bottle of french dressing

Let's dive right in...

What Does French Dressing Taste Like? 

It's primarily tangy and sweet with tomato flavor from a ketchup base, vinegar and sugar. Spices like onion and garlic powders are not uncommon in these sauces, giving them extra oomph.

The ones from the grocery store are also surprisingly vegan most of the time, whereas the traditional recipe is not since it's ketchup and mayo.

French Dressing Texture 

All French dressings are creamy in texture, but store-bought varieties run the gamut from thick to thin and runny. Almost invariably, French dressings are blended until smooth.

Homemade versions tend to be the thickest, creamiest ones as people frequently add mayonnaise, though this is not always the case. To be sure, you should always ask about this at a restaurant, especially if the salad dressings are made in house.

What Is the Difference Between French and Catalina Dressing? 

These dressings are almost indistinguishable, but there are ways of eyeballing them to tell them apart, starting with color. Catalina dressing, which is a type of French dressing, is typically a deeper shade of red.

The reason for this is that the Catalina style refers to the kind that does not use mayonnaise to achieve a particularly thick and creamy texture. 

Things can get confusing where homemade dressings come into play as some French dressings may omit mayo (or vegan mayo). But if you're perusing the supermarket shelves, you'll usually see light, creamy versions called "French" while the darker, thinner types will be called "Catalina."

Is French Dressing the Same as Thousand Island? 

So what's the difference between French and Thousand Island, then? The way some recipes are designed, there can often be virtually no discernible difference at all. 

However, the original Thousand Island is heavily mayo-based and served as a sandwich condiment much of the time. French dressing is usually reserved for salads.

Chili sauce is also a traditional component of Thousand Island, though the heat is very minimal. Lastly, Thousand Island is a tad chunky with bits of pickle relish, minced onion and garlic.

What’s the Difference Between Russian and French Dressing 

This is another condiment that's not far off from French dressing. The famous reuben sandwich topper is made with mayo, ketchup, spices and horseradish, giving it serious zest.

The Russian kind is often most like Thousand Island and may even be used interchangeably with it. The key difference is in the spiciness, and it's also chunkier like Thousand Island.

French Dressing Recipe Tips 

Let's see how some of the vegan French dressings are made. These videos will show you the ropes, after which you can start varying the ingredients to make them creamy or Catalina-style.

This French dressing is more like a Catalina dressing as it has no creamy elements. It's a bright, vibrant recipe that's said to be a crowd pleaser.

Blend together these ingredients:

  • Fresh tomato
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Rosemary or any herb you like
  • Olive oil
  • Nutritional yeast (optional)

This way of making French dressing involves liquid smoke, which will give it a barbecue-like flavor. You can do a lot with this recipe. Try omitting the liquid smoke and adding a handful of soaked cashews to make a creamy style of French dressing.

  • Ketchup
  • White vinegar
  • Oil
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Sriracha (or any hot sauce)
  • Celery seed
  • Liquid smoke
  • Sugar

Wrap Up 

French dressing is often vegan, and if not, it's easily veganizable if you make it yourself. It's known as a salad accompaniment, but it can be used in sandwiches just like Russian dressing. There are so many ways of making French dressing that you can have a lot of fun finding your favorite, and as always, we recommend the homemade stuff. You'll see why when you try it.

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