For Thick And Silky Salad Dressings, Just Add Ice

Building a good salad dressing is an art form. Sure, you can mindlessly throw some liquids and seasonings together, pour them atop some healthy-ish foodstuffs, and call it a meal, but it won't be a good meal. A good dressing requires a certain level of thoughtfulness, taking care to balance out different textures. The smooth velvet of a soft cheese versus the cold crunch of ripe fruit versus the sticky bite of a caramelized nut all require different sorts of dressing. Success requires the ability to appropriately proportion everything, ensuring an ideal combination of flavors in each and every bite.

A divine dressing brings the whole medley together in both form and flavor. It's well-balanced, tasty, and silkily textured. But how do you nail that sort of elusive perfection? As it turns out, ice is the secret to excellent dressing. That's right: A few cubes are all you need to take your salads from disappointing to delicious.

Why ice is the answer for blended dressings

Some of the best salad dressings are slightly thicker in consistency. There's just something irresistible about a dressing with some more substance to it — think dressings with heavier bases like yogurt, cheese, mayo, or avocado, which work best when blended. There's only one thing you need to achieve a perfectly silky consistency: a drop in temperature, courtesy of ice.

Executive chef Hernan Melendez of California's Valley Kitchen told People his top tip for better salad dressing is to simply add a couple of ice cubes while blending ingredients. "The quick change in temperature makes the mixture bind, and as a result, you get a thick, silky dressing," the gourmand noted. Indeed, the cold temperature of the ice helps emulsify the dressing, and also keeps the liquids from separating, producing a dressing that remains smooth and creamy long after it leaves the blender.

No blender? No problem. This trick also works with vinaigrettes or other dressings that you'd normally whisk or shake together. Just shake your salad dressing ingredients with an ice cube to achieve that same chilled, blended texture, and remove before serving.

How to choose the right salad dressing

Not all salads are created equal, and neither are the dressings that complete them. Getting it right is all about considering the main elements of your salad, and choosing a dressing with flavors and consistency that complement them.

First, think about your lettuce. If it's leafy and delicate, like a spinach, spring mix, or arugula, you want to choose something like a flavored vinaigrette that's lighter by nature, so it doesn't weigh down your ingredients. Alternatively, if your base is something more tough or crunchy like romaine, kale, or endive, you can opt for something thick and creamy, since the lettuce is strong enough to withstand it. Ice is perfect for these dressings.

Next, consider the overall ingredients and flavor profile of your salad. If you have bold elements in play, like a heavily seasoned protein or spiced vegetables, go for a dressing that's more mild in taste. If your salad is lacking in dimension or flavor, make up for it with a bolder dressing that's zesty, herby, or even spicy. If your salad is more bitter, peppery, or savory, you'll want to balance that out with a dressing that has some sweetness to it. However, if it's already sweet with ingredients like fruit or candied nuts, a more tangy or acidic dressing will complement it best.