Poppy Seed Dressing

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This is our favorite creamy Poppy Seed Dressing! This dressing is thick and creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness and brightened with pops of lemon zest and crackly, crunchy poppy seeds.

Overhead image of a salad with Poppy Seed Dressing on top

Poppy Seed Dressing

This homemade Poppy Seed Dressing is our all-time favorite!

As a self-declared salad dressing addict, poppy seed dressing was a recipe I had to get *just* right. And although it’s taken many tweaks and adjustments over the years to get it perfect, the work was worth it! This recipe is my idea of a perfect poppyseed dressing — creamy, rich, sweet, and nuanced in flavor.

It’s quickly become one of the most frequently made dressings at my home. And I can’t wait for you all to try it out!

Overhead image of all the ingredients for this dressing being added to a blender

What is poppyseed dressing made of?

  • Mayonnaise. Use a good mayonnaise for the dressing — the better the mayo, the better the dressing will taste. I love Hellman’s/Best Foods® (not sponsored) since it has a rich flavor without being overly sweet or tangy. It really is the best mayo for this dressing!
  • Whole milk and heavy cream. We use a mix of whole milk and heavy cream for this dressing. If you’d prefer to only purchase one ingredient, half and half will work just fine in place of both the milk and cream. (Half and half is half heavy cream and half milk, usually found in the dairy section of the grocery store.)
  • Apple cider vinegar. This vinegar offers a nice and needed balance in the dressing.
  • White sugar. Sugar contributes to the sweetness of the dressing; a little goes a long way! We did test this dressing with honey and found we didn’t like this alternative nearly as much.
  • Lemon zest. Unlike most dressing recipes that use both the zest and juice of lemons, we only use the zest here. The zest gives the perfect brightness to the dressing without making the dressing taste overly lemony.
  • Salt and pepper. No dressing is complete without salt and pepper, and this creamy dressing is no exception. Add to taste preference remembering that an extra pinch can be the difference between a good and a stellar dressing!
  • Poppy seeds. An obvious addition to this poppyseed dressing. I mean, come on, you can’t have poppy seed dressing without poppy seeds! Most grocery stores sell poppy seeds in the spice aisle; another place to check is the baking aisle.

QUICK TIP

When zesting the lemon, avoid the white pith of the lemon — this is very bitter. Using a microplane (like this one) zest only the very outside yellow part of the lemon for this recipe. 

Overhead image of the Poppy Seed Dressing after being blended

VARIATIONS

Healthier Poppy Seed Dressing 

If you’re looking for a more nutritious or lite poppy seed dressing, we have tested an alternative we thoroughly enjoy. It’s not nearly as thick, creamy, or indulgent tasting as the recipe we’re sharing today, but it’s still delicious!

Combine the following ingredients in a small blender:

  • 1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayo (Hellman’s/Best Foods® here as well)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Once blended, stir in 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds and enjoy this lighter poppy seed dressing recipe!

Image of the poppy seeds being added to the dressing

Recipes Using Poppy Seed Dressing

We love drizzling this Poppy Seed Dressing on as many recipes as we can! Here are a few ways to use it:

Other ideas: 

  • Try it as a fruit dip — think banana or melon slices, even apple wedges would be tasty!
  • Try blending it together with other fruity vinaigrettes to create a new delicious dressing.
  • Add it to a slaw (think broccoli slaw with nuts, dried cranberries, and chopped apples).
  • Drizzle on pasta or chicken salad.
  • Add it as a sauce for fish tacos that are topped with mango salsa.

Overhead image of a spoonful of dressing

Image of Poppy Seed Dressing on a berry salad

STORAGE

Poppy Seed Dressing Storage

The prepared dressing will stay fresh for up to a week stored in an airtight container (we like to store it in a glass jar) in the fridge. Give it a good stir before using!

More dressing recipes:

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Poppyseed Dressing

5 from 2 votes
This is our favorite creamy Poppy Seed Dressing! This dressing is thick and creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness and is brightened with pops of lemon zest and crackly, crunchy poppy seeds.
Print Recipe

Poppyseed Dressing

5 from 2 votes
This is our favorite creamy Poppy Seed Dressing! This dressing is thick and creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness and is brightened with pops of lemon zest and crackly, crunchy poppy seeds.
Course Salad, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Keyword poppy seed dressing, poppyseed dressing
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 91kcal
Cost $1.43

Ingredients

Regular (Ultra Thick, Creamy, & Rich) Poppyseed Dressing

  • 1/3 cup full-fat mayonnaise (Best Foods/Hellman's recommended)
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk Note 1
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • pinch fine sea salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Lite Poppyseed Dressing

  • 1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise (Best Foods/Hellmans recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • pinch fine sea salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Instructions

  • DRESSING: Combine all of the ingredients, except the poppy seeds, in a small blender jar or food processor and process until combined. Taste and adjust any flavors to personal preference. (If you'd like a sweeter dressing, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons white sugar.) Stir in the poppy seeds. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve.
  • STORAGE: Dressing will stay fresh for up to a week stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Give it a good stir before using!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: We use a mix of whole milk and heavy cream for this dressing. If you'd prefer to only purchase one ingredient, half and half will work just fine in place of both the milk and cream. (Half and half is half heavy cream and half milk, usually found in the dairy section of the grocery store.)
Nutrition information is for 2 tablespoons of dressing. The entire recipe makes one cup. 
The lite version contains 42 calories per serving.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 91kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 62mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 67IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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