The Green Goddess (Salad Dressing)

The Green Goddess (Salad Dressing)

Suddenly, Green Goddess Dressing is showing up everywhere, as if in cahoots with overflowing fall  herb gardens. I’ve encountered it on four menus in the past month. And I can’t stop ordering it, even though restaurant versions pale by comparison to what you can make in your own kitchen. Restaurants invariably hold back on the herbs, perhaps to control cost or to appeal to the less adventurous diner. This is a mistake, because this dressing is supposed to be all about the herbs and bold rather than timid.

In case you have no idea what The Green Goddess is all about, the legend goes that Executive Chef Phillip Roemer created it at the Palace Hotel in 1923, at an event in honor of actor George Arliss, who was the lead in the play “The Green Goddess” by William Archer.

The bright green dressing struck a glamorous chord and became one of the most popular dressings on the West Coast for several decades. Eventually, ranch dressing stole the limelight, however, and The Green Goddess lost its allure, concluding its 50-year reign in ubiquitous bottles on grocery store shelves, before disappearing almost entirely.

The Green Goddess (Salad Dressing)

But thank heaven a resurgence is underway. The Green Goddess is too phenomenal to be lost forever. Today, there are almost as many versions of this iconic dressing as there are cooks. I have seen it made with oil and vinegar, mayonnaise, sour cream, mayonnaise and sour cream, and pureed avocado. The only constant seems to be lots of parsley and fresh herbs, especially mint.

For me, a proper Green Goddess Dressing must be mayonnaise-based, rather than oil-based. An oil-based Green Goddess Dressing is simply Fresh Herb Vinaigrette, which may be very good, but it’s not The Goddess of Green. The other essential elements of this dressing are anchovy, garlic, and lemon. I also like a little heat from Serrano chile, a little bite from Dijon mustard, and a little zing from capers. This dressing is not meant to be demure.

Green Goddess Dressing is infinitely versatile, and you should feel free to make it your own. Just taste as you go, building a perfect harmony of compelling flavor notes on top of a rich creamy base of mayonnaise.

The Green Goddess (Salad Dressing)

Green Goddess Dressing

This is a marvelous salad dressing—rich, creamy, herbaceous, tangy, zippy, and savory. No one flavor steals the show; rather it’s the ultimate ensemble act.

large handful flat leaf parsley
large handful fresh chives or green onions
small handful fresh mint leaves
small handful fresh basil or tarragon, optional
1 Serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and ribbed (use disposable gloves)
2 tablespoons capers
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
zest of 1 large lemon

1 cup Best Foods mayonnaise
¾ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 anchovy filets or 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. In a processor fitted with the steel knife, puree the parsley, chives, mint, basil, capers, garlic, and lemon peel. If you are using an anchovy filet, add it here.
  2. Add mayonnaise, buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, anchovy paste (unless you added anchovy filet above), and Dijon mustard. Process to incorporate.
  3. Taste the dressing, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Before serving, check the viscosity of your dressing. If the dressing is too thick (likely), thin with additional buttermilk.

Makes 3 cups.

Green Goddess & Blue Cheese Dressing

If you love blue cheese, this dressing will rock your world.

above ingredients
½ cup crumbled blue cheese

  1. At Step 1, add crumbled blue cheese.
  2. Proceed as directed with the rest of the recipe.


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Copyright 2012 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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  1. says

    Susan, I love your re-telling of the story of how Green Goddess dressing was invented. I remember it from my childhood, but honestly, I couldn’t have told you what is in it. Reading your recipe, I’m intrigued and hope to try it soon. Actually, I’ll try the blue cheese version, a spectacular variation as far as I’m concerned.
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    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Sara, it is indeed divine and we are going to be mighty sad when the last of the mint and chives (two essential ingredients) are hit with a hard frost.Tonight we added grilled garlic prawns to the salad. Wow!

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