Creamy Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing Recipe

Vicky Wasik

Why This Recipe Works

  • Fresh lemon syrup provides an aromatic, low-moisture base for this recipe.
  • Buttermilk acts as an emulsifier, creating a dressing that's creamy but light.
  • Minimally processed poppy seeds have more flavor than their supermarket brethren.

With aromatic fresh lemon syrup and tangy buttermilk as its foundation, this sweet 'n sour dressing comes together with less oil than a traditional vinaigrette. It's a great way to lighten up summer salads, whether served on their own or alongside heavier fare. I love it tossed with baby greens, diced mango, and Crispy Lemon Candied Pistachios, but it works well with salad fixin's of any kind.

Recipe Details

Creamy Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing Recipe

Active 5 mins
Total 5 mins
Makes 3 cup


  • 2 1/2 ounces Fresh Lemon Syrup (1/4 cup; 70g)
  • 1 3/4 ounces safflower oil, pistachio oil, or whatever salad oil you prefer (1/4 cup; 50g)
  • 1 ounce cultured lowfat buttermilk (2 tablespoons; 30g)
  • 1 ounce lemon juice (2 tablespoons; 30g), from 1 small lemon
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (5g) poppy seeds, or more to taste (see note)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


  1. In a small pitcher, squeeze bottle, or jar, combine Fresh Lemon Syrup, oil, buttermilk, lemon juice, salt, poppy seeds, and black pepper. Stir or close lid and shake well to combine, then adjust seasoning to taste. Use immediately to dress a salad, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 month.

Special equipment

Small pitcher, squeeze bottle, or half-pint jar


Since poppy seeds are the star of the show, make sure yours are up to snuff! Check the expiration date on the package, or have a quick taste—they should be crisp and nutty. If yours are mushy or bland, it's time to invest in a fresh batch. Look for brands that are minimally processed, like Sincerely Nuts, which retain more of their inherently nutty flavor.

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