French as in Red

My Beloved and I, on the far side of middle age, recall bottled French as a deep red and savory salad dressing, maybe a hint of sweetness. Groceries these days have moved French dressing below or way above eye level on shelves so it must be out of fashion. Those Frenches are way too sweet and most are orange, creamy.

So I hit social media ISO (in search of) the old style dressing, but folks agreed there that even Ott’s Original Famous Salad Dressing was sweeter than it used to be.

The next step was research to make my own. Between my mom’s mid-century cookbooks and today’s Internet I found one with what should be the flavor but was cream colored. While at it, because the entire world is online, I asked Facebook for a vegan, low- or no-oil red dressing. Alas, I got essentially no response from my query:

Looking for a recipe for wfpb [whole-food plant-based] French salad dressing, not the orange “creamy” kind but the ruddy red, less sweet one. Thanks!

I returned to that one “almost” recipe. It is so good after I adapted it a bit it is presented here. All hail the Shane and Simple website for its Vegan French Dressing (Oil-Free). It’s (refined) oil-free because he makes his own vegan mayonnaise from cashews, while my lazy version goes for convenient store mayo. That makes it orange, in either case. Mine makes about 3/4 cup dressing, for 6-8 salads.

  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar, any kind
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic OR garlic powder
  • 1-2 Tablespoons water, optional
  1. Place all ingredients except water in a lidded 8-12 ounce jar. Stir well then close lid and shake to emulsify.
  2. To thin if desired add 1 Tablespoon water, stir and add a little more water if desired.
  3. Store lidded in the refrigerator. Shake or stir before using.


  • Recipe can be doubled.
  • Certainly wash those salad greens but, especially for the weight-conscious among us, do not dry obsessively. The salad dressing after all is liquid, and you will use less of it if the lettuce already has some moisture. One also needs less dressing if the greens and dressing are tossed gently by hand rather by tongs or other utensils. The flavor and mouth-feel are just as strong.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email