This simple Asian salad dressing recipe with sesame oil and ginger is ready in just 5 minutes and packed with sweet, savory, umami, tangy, nutty flavor. This sesame dressing is perfect for using over Asian salads and slaw, as a marinade, or as a dipping sauce!
It is my opinion that if you’re not a fan of salad, you probably just haven’t found the right dressing yet. I’m pretty easy to please with a simple olive oil-lemon/vinegar style vinaigrette. However, recently, I’ve experimented with lots of new options like this homemade Asian dressing for salad recipe and falling in love!
This Asian sesame dressing can be prepared in 5 minutes and is made entirely of inexpensive pantry staples. It also contains no chemical preservatives, is super versatile, and targets every taste bud.
Soy sauce provides the salty, savory umami flavor. Rice vinegar is tangy. Sesame oil is toasty and nutty. And of course, there’s the sweetness of cane sugar (or maple/honey), etc.
Along with boosting salads, this Japanese/Chinese salad dressing is delicious over a crisp cabbage slaw or marinated grilled meats. It can even be used as a dipping sauce for rice paper rolls and gyoza dumplings. Plus, it’s far more flavorful than most store-bought alternatives (and much, much more flexible!) and naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan!
Basic Dressing Ingredients
- Ground Ginger & Garlic: Will add zingy flavor and a kick of heat to the Asian dressing. Use fresh ginger and garlic for the best results.
- Olive oil: I recommend using a good quality extra virgin olive oil with a light flavor. Alternatively, use a neutral oil like vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, etc.
- Vinegar: It’s best to use unseasoned rice vinegar for this Asian vinaigrette. Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar will work in a pinch but won’t have the same flavor.
Rice vinegar vs. Seasoned rice vinegar
The difference between the two is that seasoned rice vinegar contains the addition of sugar and salt. Therefore, if all you can find is seasoned rice vinegar, you will need to adjust the sugar and salt content.
- Sesame oil: You need toasted sesame oil. This will pack in tons of flavor to the sesame vinaigrette.
- Lime juice: Use fresh lime juice rather than bottled. Lemon juice would also work.
- Sugar: I used raw cane sugar. However, you could also use brown sugar, o ran unrefined liquid sweetener like maple syrup, agave, or honey (not vegan).
- Soy sauce: I recommend using dark soy for the most depth and flavor in the sesame ginger dressing. However, you can use reduced-sodium soy if preferred. For a gluten-free Asian dressing, use tamari or coconut aminos.
- Salt: Adjust the amount to taste, as the soy sauce is already very salty.
- Sesame seeds: (optional) The addition of toasted sesame seeds takes this sesame oil dressing to the next level.
Optional Add-Ins and Variations
- Chives/scallions (green onion): Finely slice 1-2 tablespoon of the fresh herbs to add to the dressing for an added fresh element.
- For spice: You could add a pinch of red pepper flakes or some chili paste or sriracha (start with ¼ tsp).
- Miso: White miso adds lots of umami depth.
- Creamy dressing: Add a couple of tablespoons of either tahini, sunflower seed butter, peanut butter, or cashew butter/cream. You could experiment with other nut/seed butters, too.
Alternatively, you can add in mayonnaise. I recommend using Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise (plus 1-2 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds). This will create a more traditional Japanese sesame dressing, also called “goma.”
- Hoisin sauce/Worcestershire sauce: Either of these can be added (1 tablespoon to begin and increased to taste) for more depth.
- Paleo: Use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce and a paleo-approved sweetener, like maple syrup or raw honey.
- Orange juice: Add a few tablespoons of orange juice to the dressing for extra brightness. Orange zest will also taste delicious.
Asian Salad Dressing Recipe
First, peel and finely mince the garlic and ginger, and juice the lime.
The easiest way to peel ginger is with a spoon, following this method. To avoid wasting any ginger, I highly recommend freezing it. You can grate it directly from frozen, which is even easier!
Then, add all the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk well. Alternatively, add them to a jar (with a lid) and shake it well.
I highly recommend leaving the ginger sesame vinaigrette to rest for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. Then, finally, taste and adjust any ingredients to personal preference, and enjoy!
How to Store the Salad Dressing
Store the homemade Asian salad dressing in a sterile jar with a tight-fitting lid for 5-6 days. Then, give it a good shake (or use a small milk frother whisk) before using it each time, as the emulsion can separate in the fridge.
You may also need to leave it at room temperature for a few minutes. This is because olive oil can solidify when stored in the fridge.
If you omit the ginger and garlic, this salad dressing will easily keep for 2-3 weeks. You can then add the ginger/garlic as needed to individual portions.
How to Use Asian Sesame Dressing?
Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy this easy Asian salad dressing:
- Pour the Asian vinaigrette over leafy green salads and veggie-based Asian salads.
- It pairs amazingly with crisp red cabbage and carrot salads too.
- Toss cold noodle salads in it.
- Enjoy with a sushi salad and deconstructed sushi bowls.
- Drizzle over grain bowls and buddha bowls.
- Use this salad dressing as a marinade for Asian chicken and other meats.
- Drizzle over sauteed, stir-fried, steamed, grilled, and roasted vegetables.
- A dip for spring rolls, rice paper rolls, dumplings, rice paper dumplings, and egg rolls.
Yes, you can use jarred versions. However, the flavor varies significantly between various brands and the fresh ingredients.
In terms of using the dried versions… It might be better to omit them entirely rather than rely on ground powders. However, you can always experiment.
If preferred, then yes, you could omit either or both. The sesame oil dressing is still delicious, though not as flavorful.
On the plus side, the lack of fresh ingredients means you can store it for 2-3 weeks.
I highly encourage using toasted sesame oil when possible, as it packs in a lot more flavor. However, regular sesame oil will work in a pinch. In that case, though, I recommend adding some toasted sesame seeds (toast in a dry pan until fragrant).
This all comes down to taste. However, I generally recommend about 1.5 tablespoons of salad dressing per portion of leafy green salad.
Other Simple Sauce Recipes
- Garlic and chili-infused honey sauce
- Quick gyoza sauce
- Authentic Chimichurri (plus variations)
- Homemade harissa paste
- Lemon Tahini Sauce
If you try this simple Asian salad dressing recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Asian Salad Dressing (Ginger Sesame Dressing)
This yields about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of dressing.
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar unseasoned; apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar would work in a pinch
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil toasted
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or neutral oil like vegetable, grapeseed, canola
- 2 tablespoon lime juice 1 lime; or lemon
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce regular or reduced-sodium; or tamari or coconut aminos for a gluten-free option
- 2 teaspoon cane sugar or maple syrup, agave, honey
- 0.31 oz garlic 2 cloves
- 0.56 oz ginger 1/2 tablespoon grated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
Check the blog post for optional add-ins and recipe variations!
- Peel and finely mince the garlic and ginger, and juice the lime.The easiest way to peel ginger is with a spoon, following this method. To avoid wasting any ginger, I highly recommend freezing it. You can grate it directly from frozen. In fact, it’s even easier!
- Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk well. Alternatively, add them to a jar (with a lid) and shake it well.
- I highly recommend leaving the ginger sesame vinaigrette to rest for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. Then, finally, taste and adjust any ingredients to personal preference, and enjoy!
- Store the salad dressing in a sterile, airtight jar for 5-7 days. Then, give it a good shake (or use a small milk frother whisk) before using it each time, as the emulsion can separate in the fridge.You may also need to leave it at room temperature for a few minutes, as olive oil can solidify in the fridge.If you omit the ginger and garlic, this salad dressing will easily keep for 2-3 weeks. You can then add the ginger/garlic as needed to individual portions.
- Taste and adjust: Add more vinegar if you want it tangier, sugar for sweeter, soy saltier, etc.
- Allow it to marinate: The longer it sits, the better it tastes. So I recommend allowing it to sit for at least a couple of hours, when possible.