catalina dressing x

Catalina Dressing . $.58

Sometimes ya just have to go retro – leafing through my recipe file I came across Catalina Dressing – Catalina reminds me of my childhood when my favorite was “Western,” a thick, sweet, tangy dressing. This, though, is a little thinner, a little more sophisticated, and an absolutely perfect blend of flavors.

Catalina Dressing on a Chopped Salad
Catalina Dressing on a Chopped Salad

Perhaps not one of the healthier dressings (duh – sugar and ketchup) a homemade version is certainly better for you than a bottled dressing and the taste is incomparable.

Catalina Dressing takes about five minutes to make from pantry ingredients, but is at it’s best after sitting for about an hour. Most of the time making this is getting out and putting away the items necessary!

We’ve been making this little dressing for so long, I’m not certain any longer where it came from, but if memory serves, perhaps Cook’s Illustrated. At any rate, it has really become one of our “house” dressings!

Catalina Dressing,

makes about 1 1/2 cups, serving size 2 tablespoons, cost 58 cents

  • 2/3 cup mild oil
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Tabasco

Shake all ingredients together in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Let sit for one hour for flavors to blend. Shake vigorously to recombine before using. May be refrigerated for up to a week, but I‘ve kept much, mush longer with no issues. If it’s difficult to shake, bring to room temperature. hint – (Put in the microwave with lid off for a few seconds, then stir.)

I sometimes do the initial mixing in the blender.

This dressing is best on a good sturdy, crunchy lettuce like Romaine or Iceberg. Although low in calories, lettuces don’t offer a lot in the way of nutrition. Load your salad up with bright vegetables and go light on the dressings – they look better and are better for you.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied:

  • If you follow me, you know I use coupons – and if you know about coupons, you know all kinds of condiments can be picked up at no cost, including salad dressings.  Why would I make a dressing at cost?  Two reasons:  a homemade always tastes better and is better for you.  Take a look at the ingredients in any bottled salad dressing…
  • Oil: Here I usually use POV (plain old vegetable) but grapeseed is a more healthier, mild tasting oil and is a good substitute.  I haven’t tried this with Olive Oil, but the other ingredients are strong enough it might work with a mild one.  Olive oil will harden eventually in the fridge.  $2.49 is a good price for 48 ounces of POV on a store sale, so the cost for this is 27 cents.
  • Ketchup: Heinz:  40 oz bottle, I regularly get free in the summer.  If I have to pay, I‘ll generally go no higher than a dollar a bottle.  Cost free.
  • Sugar:  Often on sale before any Holiday, especially at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. I’m not a heavy year round baker, so I try to stock up at these times. You’ll especially see the smaller bags on sale.  A good price is $1.49 to $1.69 per pound, on sale, and often with a manufacturer’s coupon or a store coupon.  One pound averages 2 cups, $1.42, so 1/4  a cup is 18 cents.
  • Vinegar: Every so often they’ll have coupons for vinegar, making name brand lower than store price. Best time to buy is generally around Easter for the basic White or Apple Cider. Summer is usually when you’ll find the good cooking vinegar on sale. I’ll find sale prices, too, around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Stock up on the best prices because they keep forever. Often sales are not advertised, and you can find coupons, now and then, for both the basic and the fancier vinegars.  Last bought White Wine for 86 cents a bottle, ¼ cup is about 10 cents.
  • Worcestershire:  Another item I get for free on sale with coupons in the summer, like most condiments.  Cost free.
  • Tabasco: Another item I get for free on sale with coupons in the summer, like most condiments…but with Tabasco, I often pick up all year round with coupons.  If you see new flavors with high dollar coupons, don’t be afraid to try them out and stock up – these specials don’t last long after the new product comes out.  Cost free.


Cal 127, Cal fr fat 106 83%; sat fat .89g; chol 0; sod 106mg; tot carb 5.84g; fib .03g, sug 5.81g; prot .1g

Put your Own Spin on It:

  • You could add a bit more spice or onion to this dressing.

Catalina Dressing made April 2012; Source Cook’s Illustrated.

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

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