;

Kidney Friendly Salad Dressing: The Best Options From a Dietitian 

Know someone who is looking for this info? Share it!

When someone says “healthy food” what comes to mind? Likely salads are one of the first things that pops into your head. And most people can agree that salads are pretty healthy. The debate starts when it comes to the salad dressing. There are some salad dressings out there that can turn an otherwise healthy salad into a not-so-healthy meal. Let’s settle what makes a kidney friendly salad dressing and what dressings don’t make the cut. 

Kidney friendly salad dressings

What makes a Kidney Friendly Salad? 

In order to use a kidney friendly salad dressing, we need a kidney friendly salad. Plain and simple. 

However, putting together a kidney friendly salad may be more involved than you think. 

Luckily, we’ve put together step-by-step instructions on how to make a kidney friendly salad every time

Nutrient Dense Base 

Let’s start with the basics. 

We need a strong base. Something to anchor your salad. 

Gone are the days when a bowl of iceberg lettuce and some salad dressing will make the cut. 

By the way, there is nothing wrong with iceberg lettuce, but we can make your salad much more nutrient dense!

Try out these kidney friendly salad bases: 

  • Kale 
  • Spring mix 
  • Arugula 
  • Radicchio 
  • Bibb Lettuce 
  • Iceberg lettuce 
  • Spinach 

A mixture of these different lettuces is also an option! 

Your base does not just have to be a dark leafy green. Other salad bases can work too: 

  • Chopped broccoli 
  • Zucchini Noodles 
  • Pasta
  • Beans
  • Potatoes 

Variety of Toppings 

Next, we need a good variety of toppings. The more toppings we can add, the better! 

Different salad toppings can provide different vitamins and minerals

Toppings are vital to ensuring that your salad is a nutrient-dense, balanced meal. 

Try out some of these kidney-friendly toppings: 

Chopped Fruits and Veggies:

  • Beets
  • Cherry Tomatoes 
  • Cucumbers 
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Apples
  • Dried fruits (raisins, craisins etc.)
  • Peppers (red, orange, yellow, green)
  • Purple and green cabbage
  • Cauliflower 
  • Red Onion
  • Strawberries 
  • Blueberries 
  • Mandarin Oranges 
  • Broccoli

The list goes on and on! Pick 2-3 fruits or veggies to go on top of your base. 

More than just veggies! 

There are more than just veggies that can go in your salad. 

Plant-Based Proteins: 

  • Black beans 
  • White beans 
  • Edamame
  • Cubed tofu 
  • Chopped tempeh 
  • Chickpeas 

Next, pick a plant-based protein. This can help your salad be more filling and satisfying

Learn more about protein in the renal diet here

Nuts and Seeds: 

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pepitas
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Sesame seeds 

Nuts and seeds add healthy fat to your salad and can provide some crunch. Pick one to top your salad with!

Whole Grains: 

  • Farro 
  • Barley 
  • Quinoa 
  • Couscous
  • Brown Rice 
  • Whole grain pasta

Whole grains are great sources of complex carbohydrates


This can provide you with energy and can make your salad more filling. Choose one to add to your salad. 

How does this all fit together? Here is an example: 

Base: Spring mix and kale 

Fruits and Veggies: Purple Cabbage, Cherry Tomatoes, Cauliflower

Plant-Based Protein: Edamame 

Nuts and Seeds: Sesame Seeds 

Whole grains: Brown Rice 

Finish it off with a Sesame Ginger salad dressing and Voilá! You have a nutrient-dense, satisfying kidney-friendly salad. 

What to Avoid in a Salad Dressing 

Now that we know how to create a kidney-friendly salad, let’s talk about kidney-friendly salad dressings. 

Salad dressings are a common household staple, however, some store-bought dressings are better than others. 

Let’s start by talking through a few things that we want to make sure that we avoid with our salad dressings. 

Too Much Sodium

Too much sodium is the most common not-so-great ingredient that we find in salad dressings. 

Store-bought or homemade, if we aren’t careful our salad dressing can contribute too much sodium to our salad too quickly. 

How do we know when the amount of sodium is too much? 

Ideally, we are looking for 140mg of sodium or less per serving. 

That means that if the nutrition label of your salad dressing says that there is 350 mg of sodium per serving it may be something that you put back on the shelf

With that being said, for many salad dressings it can be hard to stick to 140mg of sodium or less. 

Remember, this number is just a rough guide to help you pick out the best option.

For example, if the salad dressing has 180mg of sodium per serving (for example), that can likely still fit into a kidney friendly meal. 

Remember that for our entire meal, try to aim for 400-600mg of sodium total

It can still fit if the total amount of sodium from the rest of the meal still equals out to between 400-600mg of sodium. 

Kidney friendly salad dressing

Phosphorus Additives 

This is an important one to look out for. 

Many food manufacturers will add phosphorus to foods as a preservative. 

We absorb nearly 100% of this phosphorus. Therefore, kidney patients need to look for salad dressings that do not contain added phosphorus. 

You can read more about phosphorus additives here

For example, the Wish-Bone light creamy caesar dressing contains phosphoric acid

This makes it a not-so-great choice for kidney patients. 

However, the Primal Kitchen brand caesar dressing does not have any phosphorus additives. 

This makes the Primal Kitchen brand a better choice if store-bought caesar salad dressing is something you would like to keep in your diet. 

Dietitian tip: If you make your own salad dressing you don’t have to worry about phosphorus additives and you can control the amount of sodium that goes into it!

Trans and Saturated Fats

Salad dressings can also contribute unhealthy fats to your diet. The base of many salad dressings is usually what contributes unhealthy fats. 

Other items such as toppings and certain protein choices can contribute unhealthy fats as well. 

The unhealthy fats that we want to avoid or limit include: 

  • Trans fats 
  • Saturated fats 

The most common sources of unhealthy fats in a salad or salad dressing are: 

  • Tropical oils
    • Coconut oil
    • Palm oil
    • Palm kernel oil
  • Full and low fat cheese 
  • Beef or bacon

These are items to avoid or limit in your kidney friendly salad and salad dressing. 

Too much added sugar

Surprisingly, salad dressings can also be a source of too much added sugar. 

The CDC recommends limiting added sugar intake. Too much added sugar may lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease

Ideally, we would like to limit added sugar to less than 5g per serving for our salad dressings. 

What to Include in a Salad Dressing

Now that we have the ingredients to avoid out of the way, let’s talk about what should be in your salad dressing. 

Heart Healthy Fats 

Here are the types of fat that we want to include in our kidney friendly diet: 

  • Unsaturated fat
    • Polyunsaturated fat
    • Monounsaturated fat

In the right amounts, these fats may help improve cholesterol levels. 

These types of fats can be found in: 

  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Avocado oil
  • Sesame oil 
  • Walnuts
  • Walnut oil
  • Flax oil
  • Flax 
  • Certain nuts and seeds (such as almonds or sesame seeds)
oil on a kidney diet

Adding these heart healthy fats: 

  • Improve flavor 
  • Help you feel full and satisfied 
  • May help with your overall heart health 

Using store-bought dressings and making homemade dressings that are made with olive oil or avocado oil can be a great way to add healthy fats to your salad!

Herbs and Spices

Hello, flavor! Herbs and spices can be a great way to add flavor without adding the salt

Plus, they add their own nutritional benefit

Here are some great spices that you can add directly to your salad or to your kidney friendly salad dressing: 

  • Onion powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Basil 
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Cilantro
  • Paprika
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Coriander
  • Turmeric
  • Cardamom
Anti-inflammatory spices

Flavor!

Don’t forget to finish up your salad dressing with some flavor!

Try adding these ingredients to your dressing: 

  • Vinegars
    • Apple cider 
    • Balsamic  
    • Red wine 
    • Distilled white
    • Champagne 
    • White
Kidney friendly vinegars
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Mustard
    • Dijon
    • Brown
  • Honey
  • Peanut Butter
  • Coconut Aminos
  • Tahini

Kidney Friendly Salad Dressing Recipes

Want to make sure that your salad dressing has all good ingredients and none of the bad

You can make your own at home! 

If you make your own you can control what goes into that dressing (and also what doesn’t!) 

Making your own dressing can also be significantly cheaper. Some brands of salad dressings can get pretty expensive!

Below are some of our favorite dressings that you can whip up and enjoy on your kidney friendly salad!

Kidney Friendly Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together and enjoy!

Kidney Friendly Creamy Cashew Dressing 

Store-Bought Kidney Friendly Salad Dressings

While we usually encourage making your own salad dressings, there are a few kidney friendly salad dressings that you can buy

When choosing a salad dressing, remember that we want to look for: 

  • Low sodium options
  • No PHOS (phosphorus) additives 
  • Heart Healthy fats 
  • Delicious and flavorful options

Below are some options that we think fit the bill! 

Kidney Friendly Oil Based Dressings

Kidney Friendly Creamy Salad Dressings 

Primal Kitchen Green Goddess Dressing 

*contains eggs 

Primal Kitchen Cilantro Lime Dressing

*contains eggs

Tessemae’s Creamy Caesar

*contains eggs

Are there any that we missed? Comment below and let us know!

Kidney Friendly Ranch Alternative

Looking for a traditional ranch alternative? If you don’t want to make your own, we may recommend the Primal Kitchen Brand.  

Their Vegan Ranch Dressing is a source of heart healthy fats and doesn’t not contain any added sugar or phosphorus additives

There is 220mg of sodium per 2 tbsp serving, so be sure to take that into consideration if you would like to include this in your diet. 

Want to make your own kidney friendly ranch dressing? 

Check out this recipe: 

Easy Homemade Vegan Ranch Dressing

Ingredients: 

1 packet of dry vegan ranch mix 

1 6oz container of silken tofu 

Directions: 

  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth and enjoy!
Kidney friendly salad dressings

Summary

Although we usually think of salads being healthy options, the wrong salad dressing can make a salad unhealthy

To ensure that your salad dressing is healthy and kidney friendly, make sure that it has the right amount of sodium and added sugar, heart healthy fats and no phosphorus additives. 

And most importantly, an outstanding flavor that makes you want to enjoy salads more often! 

Have a kidney friendly salad dressing that you want to share? Comment below! We would love to hear about it! 

Enjoy your salad dressing, kidney warrior!

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Board-Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition | Website

Jen Hernandez is a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in renal nutrition. She has nearly a decade of experience with kidney disease patients in all stages - from stage 1 through kidney transplant. Jen writes on the blog of Plant-Powered Kidneys to help reach and teach more kidney patients about how they can enjoy more foods in a plant-based diet while protecting kidney health.

4 thoughts on “Kidney Friendly Salad Dressing: The Best Options From a Dietitian ”

    1. Jen Hernandez RDN, CSR, LDN

      Love that, Kathy! It’s always a great win when you find something available to you that is also good for you. 😊

  1. Bragg Non-GMO Organic Dressing and Marinade Vinaigrette — 12 fl oz. My Target no longer sells this but Vitacost does.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top