Vietnamese Salad Dressing Recipe – Taste Of Asia At Home

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In my experience, a Vietnamese Salad Dressing recipe shines with bold flavors. It’s a homemade blend of tangy lime juice, fish sauce for depth, a hint of sugar for sweetness, and minced garlic for a kick. Chopped fresh chili adds heat. Remember to whisk these together, creating a harmonious balance. If you’re worried about spice, adjust the chili. This dressing might just be your best bet for a vibrant salad twist.

Embarking on my culinary journey, I stumbled upon a gem: Vietnamese Salad Dressing. Its vibrant flavors instantly captivated me, transforming ordinary salads into extraordinary feasts. 

Bowl and Soup

However, many struggle to find that perfect dressing balance – too tangy, too sweet, or overwhelmingly spicy. In my quest, I discovered a recipe that changed everything.

Aim to recreate this experience in your kitchen. The key lies in balancing the tang of lime with the umami depth of fish sauce, the sweet note of sugar, and the fresh chili heat. 

You must adjust to your taste, ensuring each ingredient sings in harmony.This dressing is not just a recipe; it’s a gateway to exploring the rich tapestry of Vietnamese cuisine. 

As you whisk these simple ingredients, you’ll find ways to elevate your salads from mundane to magical. In my experience, it became my go-to, a testament to the transformative power of a well-crafted dressing.

What Is Vietnamese Salad Dressing?

Vietnamese salad dressing is a delightful blend that encapsulates the essence of Vietnamese cuisine. It’s made with fresh lime juice, lending a tangy zest, and fish sauce for a savory umami depth. 

A touch of sugar balances the acidity, creating a harmonious flavor profile. Minced garlic and finely chopped fresh chili add a spicy kick and aromatic punch. 

This dressing is simple and versatile, easily adaptable to your heat preferences. In my experience, it’s the perfect homemade addition to salads, offering a unique and refreshing taste that elevates any dish.

What Is The Origin Of Vietnamese Salad Dressing Recipe?

Vietnamese salad dressing originates from the culinary traditions of Vietnam, a country known for its fresh, vibrant flavors and emphasis on balance. 

This dressing reflects the quintessential Vietnamese philosophy of balancing the five fundamental taste elements: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and spicy. 

Historically, Vietnamese cuisine utilizes locally available ingredients like lime, fish sauce, and chili, which are abundant in the region. These ingredients became the foundation of their salad dressing. 

Over time, as Vietnamese cuisine gained global recognition, this dressing became popular worldwide for its ability to transform simple salads into a symphony of flavors, showcasing Vietnam’s rich culinary heritage.

Jar and Ingredients

Ingredients List

Sesame Oil2 Tbsp.
Lime (for juice)1
Fish Sauce1 tsp.
Honey1 Tbsp.

What Are The Cultural & Traditional Variations Of Vietnamese Salad Dressing Recipe?

Explore the diverse cultural and traditional variations of Vietnamese Salad Dressing:

Northern Variation

Often milder, using less chili and a preference for vinegar over lime juice.

Central Variation

Typically spicier with more chili and garlic, showcasing the region’s bold flavors.

Southern Variation

Sweeter due to the liberal use of sugar, aligning with the South’s preference for sweeter tastes.

Fish Sauce Variants

Different provinces use unique local fish sauces, each imparting a distinct flavor.

Herb Infusions

Incorporation of local herbs like mint or cilantro for added freshness.

Fruit Additions

Some recipes include grated or thinly sliced fruits like green mango or papaya for a tangy twist.

Vegetarian Options

In Buddhist communities, soy sauce or tamari is used instead of fish sauce.

Roasted Peanuts

Often added for crunch and nuttiness, especially in street food versions.

Coconut Milk Blend

In some coastal areas, coconut milk is mixed for a creamy texture.

Tamarind Use

In certain regions, tamarind juice replaces lime for a different sour profile.

What Herbs And Spices Work Well In Vietnamese Salad Dressing Recipe?

  • Mint: Adds a fresh, cooling effect.
  • Cilantro (Coriander): Provides a citrusy, slightly peppery taste.
  • Thai Basil: Offers a spicy, anise-like flavor.
  • Lemongrass: Imparts a lemony, slightly ginger-like flavor.
  • Ginger: Adds a warm, spicy kick.
  • Garlic: Contributes a spicy, earthy aroma.
  • Green Onion (Scallion): Provides a mild, onion-like taste.
  • Chili Peppers: Bring heat and intensity, adjustable to taste.
  • Black Pepper: Adds a sharp, woody spice.
  • Lime Zest: Enhances the citrus notes.
  • Star Anise: Gives a sweet, licorice-like flavor, typically in more complex dressings.
  • Cinnamon: Used sparingly for a warm, sweet spice.

Recipe Directions

  • In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of sesame oil.
  • Squeeze the juice from 1 lime into the bowl.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of fish sauce.
  • Incorporate 1 tablespoon of honey.
  • Mix all the ingredients thoroughly until well combined.


  • This dressing is ideal for drizzling over your favorite salad recipes.
  • It can also serve as a delicious marinade for beef, infusing it with a unique Vietnamese flavor.


  • The dressing’s blend of sweet, sour, and savory notes will elevate your dishes, offering a taste of Vietnamese cuisine.
Bowl and Chopper

What Are Some Popular Salad Recipes That Feature Vietnamese Salad Dressing Recipe?

  • Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Goi Ga): Shredded chicken mixed with cabbage, carrots, mint, and cilantro, dressed in Vietnamese salad dressing.
  • Vietnamese Shrimp Salad: Combines fresh shrimp, mixed greens, herbs, and a zesty dressing.
  • Green Papaya Salad (Goi Du Du): Features shredded green papaya, carrots, and fresh herbs dressed in Vietnamese salad dressing.
  • Vietnamese Beef Salad: Thinly sliced beef, mixed greens, cucumber, and herbs tossed in the dressing.
  • Rice Noodle Salad (Bun): Rice vermicelli with fresh vegetables, herbs, sometimes with grilled pork or shrimp, and drizzled with the dressing.
  • Tofu Salad: Crispy tofu with mixed greens and various herbs, making it a vegetarian delight.
  • Vietnamese Mango Salad: Sliced mango with bell peppers, onion, and herbs, offering a sweet and tangy profile.
  • Lotus Root Salad (Goi Ngo Sen): Thinly sliced lotus roots with prawns or pork mixed with fresh herbs and the dressing.
  • Vietnamese Seaweed Salad: Seaweed with cucumber, carrots, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, dressed in a flavorful sauce.
  • Cucumber Salad: Simple yet refreshing, combining cucumber slices with the dressing and topped with crushed peanuts for added texture.

Does This Dressing Recipe Use Blending Or Whisking?

This Vietnamese salad dressing recipe uses whisking as the method to combine the ingredients. Mix sesame oil, lime juice, fish sauce, and honey until thoroughly blended. 

This technique emulsifies the oil with the other liquids, creating a smooth and well-integrated dressing.  Whisking is a common method in dressing preparation as it’s quick, efficient, and requires no special kitchen equipment.

Vietnamese Salad Dressing

Can We Use Vietnamese Salad Dressing Recipe As Marinade, Dip, Or Sauce?

  • As a Marinade: It’s excellent for marinating meats like chicken, beef, or fish. The combination of acidic lime juice and savory fish sauce tenderizes the meat, while sesame oil and honey add flavor and moisture.
  • As a Dip: It makes a great dipping sauce for spring rolls, dumplings, or fresh vegetables. The tangy and slightly sweet profile of the dressing complements a variety of finger foods.
  • As a Sauce: It can be drizzled over grilled meats, rice dishes, or noodles to add a burst of Vietnamese flavor. This can elevate simple dishes with unique sweet, sour, and savory notes.

What Are The Typical Flavor Enhancers Used In This Recipe?

Lime Juice

Adds a fresh, tangy zest.

Fish Sauce

Provides a deep umami and salty flavor.


Contributes a natural sweetness to balance the tartness and saltiness.

Sesame Oil

Offers a nutty, rich taste and aroma.

Chili Peppers or Chili Sauce (optional)

For adding a spicy kick.

Garlic (optional)

Enhances the dressing with a pungent, earthy note.

Ginger (optional)

Adds a spicy, slightly sweet flavor.

Fresh Herbs (optional, like mint or cilantro)

Provide a burst of freshness and complexity.

Vietnamese Salad Dressing

What Is The Difference Between Homemade And Store-Bought Dressings?

  • Ingredients Control: Homemade dressings allow you to choose fresh, high-quality ingredients. You can avoid preservatives, additives, or artificial flavors often found in store-bought versions.
  • Customization: You can adjust homemade dressings to your taste preferences, altering the levels of sweetness, acidity, or spice. This level of customization is not available with store-bought dressings.
  • Freshness: Homemade dressings are typically fresher, lacking the preservatives used in store-bought ones to extend shelf life.
  • Health Considerations: By making your dressing, you can create healthier options, controlling factors like sugar and salt content, and using healthier fats.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Making dressings at home can be more cost-effective, especially if you already have the necessary ingredients in your pantry.
  • Flavor Profile: Homemade dressings often have a more vibrant and robust flavor profile, as they are made from fresh ingredients and lack the processing of store-bought varieties.
  • Shelf Life: Store-bought dressings have a longer shelf life due to preservatives, whereas homemade dressings should be consumed within a shorter time frame.
  • Convenience: Store-bought dressings offer convenience and time savings, as they are ready to use immediately without any preparation.

Experience the zesty, sweet, and spicy embrace of Vietnamese salad dressing, where every drizzle adds a lively burst of Southeast Asian flavors.

Scaling The Recipe

  • Determine the Ratio: First, understand the original recipe’s ratio of ingredients. For the given recipe, it’s 2 tablespoons sesame oil, juice from 1 lime, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, and 1 tablespoon honey.
  • Calculate the New Quantities: Decide how much more or less dressing you need. To double the recipe (up-scale), multiply each ingredient by two. If you want to make half the amount (down-scale), divide each ingredient by two.
  • Maintain the Balance: The balance of flavors (sour, sweet, salty, umami) must be maintained. Adjust all ingredients proportionally.
  • Taste and Adjust: After mixing the adjusted quantities, taste the dressing. Make minor adjustments if needed, especially if scaling up significantly. Sometimes, the flavor balance can slightly change when quantities are altered.
  • Storage Considerations: If up-scaling, ensure you have adequate storage for the extra dressing, and remember that homemade dressing should be used within a few days for the best freshness and flavor.
Vietnamese Salad Dressing

Nutritional Values

Vietnamese salad dressing, a key component in dishes like spring rolls and noodle salads, offers a harmonious blend of flavors. 

A typical 2-tablespoon serving of this dressing contains approximately 60-80 calories, 5-7g of total fat, and minimal saturated fat. 

It is usually cholesterol-free and contains about 200-300mg of sodium. The carbohydrate content ranges from 3-6g, including 2-4g of sugars, while protein levels remain low at 0-1g. 

These values may vary based on ingredient proportions but reflect the generally light and vibrant nature of Vietnamese salad dressing.

What Are The Total Calories In Vietnamese Salad Dressing Recipe?

The total calories in a Vietnamese salad dressing recipe can vary depending on the ingredients and proportions used. 

On average, a 2-tablespoon serving of Vietnamese salad dressing contains approximately 60 calories. 

However, the exact calorie count may differ based on factors like the type and quantity of oil, sugar, and other components in the dressing. 

When preparing this delicious and flavorful dressing, it’s essential to check individual ingredient labels and measurements for precise calorie information.

Vietnamese Salad Dressing

Vietnamese salad dressing: a harmonious melody of tangy lime, sweet sugar, and a hint of spice, invigorating every salad leaf.

What Are The Dietary Restrictions Of The Vietnamese Salad Dressing Recipe?

  • Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac Disease: While the ingredients are generally gluten-free, it’s important to check that the fish sauce doesn’t contain any gluten-containing additives.
  • Vegan or Vegetarian: The fish sauce is unsuitable for vegans or vegetarians. It can be replaced with a vegan fish sauce alternative or soy sauce/tamari for a similar umami flavor.
  • Nut Allergies: Sesame oil is a potential allergen for those with nut and seed allergies. A different oil, like olive oil, could be used, though it will change the flavor profile.
  • Diabetes: The honey in the dressing contributes to its sugar content. People with diabetes may need to adjust the amount of honey or use a sugar substitute.
  • Low-Sodium Diet: Fish sauce is high in sodium, so those on a low-sodium diet should use it sparingly or find a low-sodium alternative.
  • Fructose Intolerance: Honey is high in fructose, which might not suit individuals with fructose intolerance.

Nutrition Table

Nutrition Table

How Can Vietnamese Salad Dressing Recipe Contribute To A Balanced Diet?

  • Healthy Fats: Sesame oil in the dressing provides healthy fats essential for nutrient absorption and brain health.
  • Low in Cholesterol: This dressing is cholesterol-free, making it a heart-healthy choice.
  • Flavor Without Excess Calories: When used in moderation, it adds flavor to salads and dishes without significantly increasing the calorie count.
  • Natural Ingredients: Made with natural ingredients like lime juice and honey, it’s a healthier alternative to processed dressings with artificial additives.
  • Portion Control: By making your dressing, you can control the portions and ingredients, helping to avoid the excessive sodium and sugar often found in store-bought versions.
  • Promotes Vegetable Intake: Its delicious flavor can encourage the consumption of more salads and vegetables, which are vital for a balanced diet.
  • Versatility: It can be used in various dishes, helping to diversify your diet with different nutrients from different foods.
  • Minimal Sugars and Carbs: This recipe has relatively low sugar and carbohydrates compared to many commercial dressings.

How Can You Substitute Ingredients For Healthier Options?

  • Reduce Sesame Oil: Use less oil or substitute it with a lighter oil like olive oil, which has a lower saturated fat content.
  • Honey Alternatives: Replace honey with a lower-calorie sweetener like stevia or a sugar-free syrup to reduce the sugar content.
  • Low-Sodium Fish Sauce: Opt for a low-sodium version of fish sauce to decrease the overall sodium content.
  • Lime Juice: No substitution is needed, as it’s already a healthy ingredient. However, you can adjust the quantity for taste preference.
  • Add Fresh Herbs: Include fresh herbs like cilantro or mint, which add flavor without calories.
  • Include Ginger or Garlic: For an extra health boost and more flavor, consider adding minced ginger or garlic.
  • Use Chili Peppers Sparingly: If you’re sensitive to spice or have digestive concerns, use chili peppers sparingly.
Vietnamese Salad Dressing

Tips For Storing & Dressing

Storing Tips

  • Refrigerate Promptly: Store the dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Homemade dressings, without preservatives, should be kept cold.
  • Use a Glass Jar: A glass jar with a tight lid is ideal for storing. If the ingredients separate, it’s easy to shake up the dressing before use.
  • Shelf Life: Homemade dressing typically lasts up to a week in the refrigerator. Always check for signs of spoilage, like an off smell or mold, before using.
  • Avoid Cross-Contamination: Use a clean spoon each time you take some dressing out of the container to prolong its shelf life.
  • Freezing: Although not commonly recommended, you can freeze the dressing if you must extend its shelf life. Note that the consistency might change once thawed.

Usage Tips

  • Shake Well Before Use: Ingredients in the dressing may separate over time. Always shake or stir it well before using.
  • Room Temperature: Let the dressing sit out for a few minutes before using it if it has thickened in the fridge.
  • Moderation is Key: Dress salads lightly to start. You can always add more but can’t remove it once it’s in.
  • Taste and Adjust: Depending on the salad ingredients, you might want to adjust the dressing’s acidity or sweetness. Taste and tweak as needed.
  • Mix with Salad Just Before Serving: Dress the salad right before serving to avoid soggy salads.

Tips For Adjusting Flavors And Consistency

Flavor Adjustments

  • Balance Sweetness: If the dressing is too tart, add a bit more honey or a sweetener of your choice. If it’s too sweet, increase the lime juice slightly.
  • Adjust Tartness: Add more lime juice if you desire extra tanginess. Conversely, if it’s too tangy, balance it with a bit more honey.
  • Modify Saltiness: If the dressing is too salty, add a bit more water or lime juice to dilute it. A small amount of fish sauce can be added if it’s not salty enough.
  • Spice Level: Add extra minced chili or a drop of chili sauce for more heat. If it’s too spicy, increase the other components slightly to dilute the heat.
  • Enhance Umami: A slight increase in the fish sauce can help create a deeper umami flavor. Be cautious, as it’s also salty.
  • Aromatic Additions: Consider adding minced garlic or ginger for additional depth of flavor.

Consistency Adjustments

  • Thicken: If the dressing is too thin, you can add a small amount of honey or a natural thickener like a teaspoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds.
  • Thin Out: If it’s too thick, simply add a bit of water or extra lime juice to reach the desired consistency.
  • Emulsify: Whisk the dressing vigorously or shake it in a sealed jar to re-emulsify if the oil is separating.

How Long Can You Keep Homemade Salad Vietnamese Salad Dressing Recipe?

  • Airtight Container: Store the dressing in a clean, airtight container, preferably glass, to prevent air and contaminants from affecting it.
  • Refrigeration: Always refrigerate the dressing immediately after making it and after each use. Homemade dressings lack the preservatives found in store-bought varieties, so they are more prone to spoiling.
  • Avoid Contamination: Use a clean spoon or utensil each time you remove some dressing from the container. This helps prevent bacterial growth.
  • Consistency and Smell Check: Before using the dressing, check its consistency and smell. Any off odors, changes in appearance, or signs of mold mean it should be discarded.
Bowl and Salad

Special Tools & Equipment Needed

  • Small Mixing Bowl: For combining the ingredients.
  • Whisk or Fork: Essential for emulsifying and thoroughly mixing the dressing ingredients.
  • Measuring Spoons and Cups: To accurately measure ingredients like sesame oil, fish sauce, and honey.
  • Citrus Juicer or Reamer: Useful for efficiently extracting juice from the lime.
  • Grater or Zester: If you decide to add lime zest or fresh ginger for more flavor.
  • Small Jar with Lid: Ideal for storing the dressing in the refrigerator. Shaking the jar can also help emulsify and mix the dressing before use.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: For slicing the lime and any additional ingredients like chili peppers or garlic.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Make This Dressing Vegan?

Yes, you can make this dressing vegan by substituting the fish sauce with soy sauce or a vegan fish sauce alternative. This will retain the umami flavor while making it plant-based.

How Long Does Homemade Vietnamese Salad Dressing Last In The Fridge?

When stored in an airtight container, the dressing can last up to one week in the refrigerator. Always check for freshness before use.

Is This Dressing Suitable For A Low-Sodium Diet?

Fish sauce is high in sodium. For a low-sodium version, reduce the amount of fish sauce or use a low-sodium soy sauce as a substitute. Be mindful of the balance of flavors when making adjustments.

Can I Use This Dressing As A Marinade For Meats?

Absolutely. This dressing works wonderfully as a marinade for chicken, beef, or fish, imparting a delicious Vietnamese flavor to the meat.

What If I Don’t Have Sesame Oil? Can I Use A Different Oil?

Yes, you can use a different oil, like olive oil, although it will slightly alter the flavor profile. Sesame oil provides a unique nutty taste, but olive oil can be a good substitute if you prefer a milder flavor or have sesame allergies.

Vietnamese Salad Dressing Recipe – Taste Of Asia At Home

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: Dressings


Prep time





This Vietnamese Salad Dressing is a tangy and savory blend of sesame oil, fresh lime juice, fish sauce, and honey. It’s perfect for elevating salads or offering authentic Vietnamese flavors as a marinade.


  • 2 tbsp 2 Sesame Oil

  • 1 1 Lime (for juice)

  • 1 tsp 1 Fish Sauce

  • 1 tbsp 1 Honey

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Gather Ingredients: Assemble 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, juice from 1 lime, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, and 1 tablespoon of honey.
  • Juice The Lime: Cut the lime in half and use a citrus juicer or reamer to extract the juice.
  • Combine The Ingredients: In a small mixing bowl, add the sesame oil, freshly squeezed lime juice, fish sauce, and honey.
  • Whisk The Mixture: Mix the ingredients thoroughly with a whisk or fork. Ensure the honey is fully dissolved and the oil is well integrated with the lime juice and fish sauce.
  • Taste And Adjust: Sample the dressing and adjust to taste. Add more honey if it’s too tart or more lime juice if it’s too sweet.
  • Store: Transfer the dressing to a jar or an airtight container.
  • Refrigerate: Place the dressing in the refrigerator. Let it chill for at least an hour before use, allowing the flavors to meld.
  • Serve: Shake or stir the dressing well before using. Drizzle over salads or use as a marinade for meats or vegetables.

Recipe Video


  • Allergy Information: Contains fish sauce; substitute with soy sauce for a vegetarian version.
  • Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container; best used within one week.
  • Spice Adjustment: Add chili for heat or omit for a milder taste.
  • Sweetness: Adjust honey according to your preference.
  • Serving Suggestion: Ideal for salads, marinades, or as a dipping sauce.

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