How Much Salad Dressing to Buy for a Crowd (A Handy Chart)


Variety of salad dressing bottles on shelves in a grocery store.
Variety of salad dressing bottles on shelves in a grocery store.

Salad is a must for every lunch or dinner party. Not only is it inexpensive, but it also helps guests fill up a bit before the main meal. While serving salad to a crowd seems easy, every host fears running out of dressing.

When purchasing salad dressing for a crowd, plan on at least two tablespoons of dressing per guest. Vinaigrette dressings will have a slightly smaller portion size of 1.5 tablespoons per person. If salad is the main dish, both creamy and vinegar-based dressings will require more than one serving.

A salad without dressing can be quite boring. Make sure you buy enough salad dressing to feed your crowd by reading the portioning guide below!

Salad Dressing Portion Guide

No two people use the same amount of dressing on their salads. When serving a large crowd, you may have guests who use half a serving and others who use double. This can make shopping for salad dressing quite challenging.

Luckily, by following this portioning guide and the bonus information below, you are guaranteed to never run out of dressing.

For most creamy-based dressings, a serving size for one side salad (1.5 ounces of lettuce per guest) is two tablespoons of dressing. Vinaigrette dressings come in a little lower with a serving size of 1.5 tablespoons.

For each guest, including children, plan on one serving of dressing. Add three to five extra guests to your list to ensure everyone gets enough dressing. See how this adds up in the following tables!

Side Salads

Number of GuestsDressing Needed (Creamy)Bottles Needed (8 oz)
1020 Tbsp2
1530 Tbsp3
2040 Tbsp4
2550 Tbsp5
3060 Tbsp6
Creamy Dressing Guide for Side Salads

Do not forget to add an extra three to five people to your total number of guests!

Number of GuestsDressing Needed (Vinaigrette)Bottles Needed (8 oz)
10 15 Tbsp1
15 22.5 Tbsp1.5
2030 Tbsp2
25 37.5 Tbsp2.5
3045 Tbsp3
Vinaigrette Dressing Guide for Side Salads

Although a standard bottle of salad dressing is only 8 ounces, most grocery stores sell larger bottles for more convenient purchasing. This is great for big parties.

If you plan on serving salad as the main dish, then you will need to increase the amount of dressing needed to about 2.5 servings per person. Additionally, you will need to bump your lettuce serving size to 2.5 ounces per guest.

Main Dish

See how much dressing you need to serve salad as a main dish to your group in the tables below.

Number of GuestsDressing Needed (Creamy)Bottles Needed (8 oz)
1045 Tbsp3
1567.5 Tbsp5
2090 Tbsp6
25112.5 Tbsp7
30135 Tbsp9
Creamy Dressing Guide for Main Dish

Still do not forget to add an extra three to five guests to your total!

Number of GuestsDressing Needed (Vinaigrette)Bottles Needed (8 oz)
1037.5 Tbsp3
1556.25 Tbsp4
2075 Tbsp5
2593.75 Tbsp6
30112.5 Tbsp7
Vinaigrette Dressing Guide for Main Dish

As you can see, even extremely large groups do not require excessive amounts of dressing for their salads. But the larger the group gets, the more expensive the dressing bill will be.

If purchasing seven bottles of dressing does not sound ideal, another option would be to make some yourself. Still follow the serving sizes discussed above and use the charts to find the correct quantity needed to make for your group.

Do not forget to add croutons to your salad mix! This will help give the salad some bursts of flavor without being too expensive. One bag of croutons can serve almost any sized group. Just add the croutons to the salad before tossing or put about three to four per salad.

Technically this is less than serving size, but no one will notice nor complain about having this luxury addition to their salad!

How to Serve Salad Dressing for a Crowd

Greek Salad with Thousand Island dressing on a plate.
Greek Salad with Thousand Island dressing on a plate.

Whether you are letting guests get their own salad or you are giving them preserved plates, the question always remains. How are you going to serve the salad dressing?

If you have homemade salad dressing or are wanting a more “high-end” look, serve it in a large metal bowl with small dressing ladles. Be warned, this does give guests more freedom to use as much dressing as they want and you could risk running low.

For another simple way to serve salad dressing is in squeeze bottles. We all know where dressing comes from, having it served in a plastic bottle will not change how it tastes.

If you made your salad dressing from scratch you too can serve it in squeeze bottles. Get some restaurant-style condiment bottles for a more professional look.

How to Make Salad Dressing Go Further

Although one or two bottles of salad dressing will not break the bank, once you start buying six or seven the price tags start to add up. No need to take out a loan for the next dinner party, just use the following tips to make your salad dressing go further.

First of all, making your own salad dressing will almost always be less expensive than buying it premade. Get more for your buck by making yours from scratch. It’s easy to make a lot at once.

However, if you do not have the time to make your dressing from scratch there are ways to make the store-bought bottles go further.

For creamier dressings, mix in 1/4 cup of milk for every 40 ounces of dressing. This will hardly alter the taste but will help the dressing go a bit further.

The same can be done with vinaigrette dressings as well. Instead of adding milk, use olive oil or vinegar instead. Although this will produce more dressing overall, this could also alter the taste. Add your oil or vinegar slowly tasting it a bit each time to make sure too much flavor is lost.

If you add anything to your dressing to thin it out, you may not be able to serve it in its original container. Pour the thinned dressing into a large serving bowl or condiment squeeze bottles instead!

Another method to make your salad dressing go further is to boost the content of the overall salad.

As much as everyone loves salad, the star of the dish is always the dressing.

Change that by adding other inexpensive toppings to the salad. This includes boiled eggs, peas, shredded cheddar cheese, and olives. By giving the salad more flavorful items, the dressing is no longer the only tasty thing and guests are likely to use less!

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