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What Is Catalina Dressing?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated May 16, 2024
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People who enjoy sweet and tangy sauces may enjoy Catalina dressing on their salad. This is a tomato-based salad dressing that usually contains a dash of hot sauce, olive oil, and spices. It is normally used on garden salads, but might also be used as a dip or marinade for beef, chicken, or pork. Many supermarkets in the United States carry this product, but it is easy to make at home as well.

Catalina dressing somewhat resembles French salad dressing, except that it is darker. French dressing is typically light orange, but Catalina is usually reddish-orange. It has a slightly sweeter taste than French dressing does, and is moderately tangy. This product is around the same thickness and texture of other salad dressings, so it pours easily from a bottle. It typically has a very sweet aroma that hints of tomato and pepper.

The main Catalina dressing ingredient is some type of tomato product, such as ketchup or tomato paste, along with olive oil, spices, and hot sauce. Some people may like to add a bit of white vinegar or sugar to the mixture as well. Those who like a tangier flavor may want to include onion or garlic salt. These ingredients are placed in a food processor and then blended until they are evenly mixed. This salad dressing can be used as soon as it has been blended, but might taste better if placed in the refrigerator first.

Many people like to eat Catalina dressing on garden salads that contain vegetables such as lettuce, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers. It can also be used to marinate meat such as pork ribs, chicken, or steak before grilling, especially when making Chinese dishes. This salad dressing might be used as a dip for chicken tenders or seafood as well. It is not normally used as a dip or dressing for fresh fruit because the tangy flavor tends to conflict with the natural sweetness of many fruits.

Catalina dressing is sold in many supermarkets, so people who are uneasy about making this product themselves can buy it at the store. Once a bottle of salad dressing has been opened, it should be stored in a refrigerator until needed again. The product has a long shelf life, lasting up to a year in most cases. This is true unless the bottle has been opened, in which case it should be used within six months of opening.

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Discussion Comments
By bear78 — On Jun 30, 2013

I also make homemade Catalina dressing. The good thing about homemade dressing is that it's much cheaper and lasts for a week in the fridge.

I also use the basic recipe for the dressing but I add a tiny amount of worcestershire sauce in it. It gives the dressing an extra tang. I've also discovered over time, that using onion powder instead of fresh onions gives better results.

By turquoise — On Jun 29, 2013

@literally45-- I don't think that the ready-made ones are very good. The only time I bought ready made Catalina dressing was when I used it as a marinade for meat. I needed a lot, so I didn't want to waste my ingredients at home.

Why don't you make it yourself? I have a very easy Catalina dressing recipe that just calls for oil, ketchup, vinegar and some seasonings.

By literally45 — On Jun 29, 2013

Has anyone tried the ready-made Catalina salad dressing from the store? Is it any good?

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