Creamy Pesto Dressing

by Alice Currah on January 5, 2012

In my early twenties I used to wait tables at the Old Spaghetti Factory across the street from Pier 70 in downtown Seattle. It’s the type of family friendly restaurant where the energy is always high, flipping tables is a must, and the smell of spaghetti never washes out of your clothes. Most of the entrees are served as a budget-friendly three course meal. Free bread with garlic or plain butter, milk (tea, or coffee), side salad with your choice of dressing, entree, and a scoop of spumoni or vanilla ice cream for dessert. Back when I used to work there, all of this could be yours for under $10.

The most popular salad dressing choice was their creamy pesto dressing. Served on a bed of chopped iceberg lettuce and seasoned croutons, this salad dressing developed a cult-like following. People would come into the restaurant just to buy pints of this stuff! I used to spread it on bread, so good! 

Discovering a jar of pesto in the refrigerator today inspired me to make a copycat version of the salad dressing at home.  I’m very happy how my version turned out… just like I remember from when I worked there!

The recipe itself is very easy to make and tastes like you would expect; like a creamy ranch dressing except with a distinct pesto flavor.  Mix some buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, pesto, and parmesan cheese.  That’s it.

Hope you enjoy this dressing as much as I do!

Creamy Pesto Dressing
Recipe type: Condiment
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 cup
A copycat recipe of the Old Spaghetti Factory’s Creamy Pesto Dressing.
  • ⅓ cup low-fat buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup mayonaise
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  1. Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl until well combined.
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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Eskimo Kisses January 5, 2012 at 3:49 am

AH!! I’ve been dying for the recipe to that dressing, The Olde Spaghetti Factory has been a family favorite and tradition forever and we are in LOVE with creamy pesto. Thank you so much for posting this! I am trying it ASAP.


Patricia Miller January 5, 2012 at 7:02 am

I love the Spaghetti Factory! Thanks so much for posting this recipe – I can’t wait to try it!


Julie @ Table for Two January 5, 2012 at 7:43 am

Oh, this is perfect. I was in search of dressing recipes this past weekend because I have to detox from the holidays. Thanks for posting this! It looks amazing :)


Shawn January 5, 2012 at 8:33 am

Looks absolutely delicious! Just in time, tonight is pizza & salad at my house.


Amanda @ Thinly Sliced Cucumber January 5, 2012 at 8:42 am

This is getting made tonight for sure! I have some cubes of pesto in the freezer from my summer harvest. I am taking them out right now to thaw! Thanks for the delicious sounding recipe.


Bev Weidner January 5, 2012 at 10:28 am

I could just pour this dressing all over my FACE, freaking yeah.


Stacey! January 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Bahahahaha! That’s awesome. Ditto!


leslie January 5, 2012 at 11:02 am

YOu just totally made me crave salad!


Jen January 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I made a big batch of oregano pesto recently and froze it into ice cube shapes. It has been delicious on everything and I think it would be great whipped up into a simple salad dressing, too.


Ann P. January 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Great salad dressings from restaurants always seem to develop cult followings! Around my town, it’s the house dressing from Pat & Oscar’s. :) So glad you were able to replicate this! Your tastebuds must be darn accurate!


hapua02 January 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm

P&O house dressing is the BEST! Do you have the copycat recipe for that?? Since Costco stopped selling it I’ve been stressing, and now that the restaurants are (temporarily??) closed, I’m dying for it!

HELP! :)


Beth @ Simpler Gifts January 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

This looks wonderful. May have to try soon!


JulieD January 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I love creamy dressings and I love pesto…this is a must try for me. Thanks, Alice!


Angela January 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I live in Spokane, WA and we have a Spaghetti Factory – I haven’t been there in forever! You’ve brought back wonderful memories. Thanks!


Evelyn January 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I have to laugh…my husband waited tables at the Spaghetti Factory here in Utah for years, and you are RIGHT, the spaghetti smell never washes out! Great recipe, I love their pesto, and never thought to try to make it at home!


kimberly January 5, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Fantastic Recipe! Always looking for new ways to use Pesto and this is a keeper. Thanks for putting this up!


Lori January 5, 2012 at 8:59 pm

I’ve moved away from bottled and packet mix type dressings for a while now, and this is exactly the type of dressing I like to prepare for my family– simple, easy and good tasting. I’m sure the kids will love to dipping pieces of bread in this!


Sarah O January 6, 2012 at 5:32 am

Hi Alice! Love your site.
I remember that salad dressing from a family trip to seattle a thousand years ago. I really want to make this but I am currently living in Spain & there seems to be no buttermilk available, what could be a good substitute?


CarolinaGirl January 9, 2012 at 11:39 am

Sarah, you can make butter milk with milk and lemon juice/vinegar, not sure of the exact portions but you could find it online.


Tracy Lawson January 6, 2012 at 9:46 am

This looks and sounds wonderful! We love pesto at my house, so this will be a nice addition to our salads! Thanks!


Rocky Mountain Woman January 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I love that dressing! Thanks for sharing the secret, I will try it this weekend!!!


Frugal Jen | Frugal, Freebies and Deals January 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm

That salad looks amazing.. I LOVE making my own dressing.. it’s so much better than store bought.



wenders January 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm

First thought when I saw the recipe title was – Old Spaghetti Factory! Yum! Thanks for posting this recipe! We will surely try it. When we get a chance to go to there, we get the pesto on the side so we can enjoy with our salad and bread. Yum. Yum.


modernworkinggirl January 7, 2012 at 6:59 am

Isn’t it amazing when trying to recreate something from taste-bud-memory actually works?!


Tickled Red January 7, 2012 at 10:09 am

Oh I am making this tonight and I know exactly what I’ll be drizzling it over! Yum


Summer January 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm

If you change the mayo and sour cream to reduced fat, I think I would be able to eat it. LOL!


mollyminks January 9, 2012 at 8:41 am

I love the old Spaghetti Factory’s pesto dressing. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll be at the market today to fix me up some of that !


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon January 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Alice, I whipped up some of this dressing over the weekend and I cannot stop thinking of reasons to open the container and have a taste. It is sublime.


Melanie Flinn January 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm

This looks SO good to me. I am a salad lover and adore homemade dressing. I will definitely try this- love that it’s so simple!


Jessica Jordan February 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Your dressing recipe sounds wonderful. I do not tolerate mayo well, can you recommend any substitutions that wouldn’t alter the flavor?


Mimi March 9, 2012 at 3:28 am

I made this dressing tonight and it was delicious. Thank you for the recipe


Shreya September 16, 2012 at 3:22 am

Tried it out yesterday and it was delicious. Everyone really appreciated it. Thank you so much for the recipe. Making it again today :)


Kate September 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm

I love their salads!! I am swapping my original plan for dinner tonight with this!


Sherri January 22, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I used to work at Spag. factory in downtown Fullerton,CA. And yes that meant for about 4 years I always smelled like spaghetti!!! I Used to sneak this dressing home all of the time. And eat it with crackers on my break!!! Just made this and it’s in my fridge (but not for long.) Thank you so much recipe!!!


Marcy February 20, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Mine was a bit too think so I suggest adding more milk until desired consistency. I also like a more prominent pesto flavor and didnt taste it much, so if you are like me you will need an extra tablespoon of pesto (maybe a little less).

Overall a yummy dressing though!


Ashlynn March 26, 2013 at 4:58 am

Thank you very much I just loved that dressing!! I really did want to buy a pint of that good stuf!
They served its in Honolulu Hawaii!!

Thanks again MAHALO!!


Michelle July 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Thank you for this recipe! I added a smidge more pesto because I really wanted that flavor to come through. And I used 1/4 c of all the other wet ingredients because I didn’t want as much left over. But the flavor was amazing!!! For anyone interested, I calculated that 2 tbsp of this is 3 WWP points. Not too bad!! I served it on a salad with some simple sautéed shrimp and steamed green beans on the side — it was heaven! This is Pinned forevermore and I KNOW I will use it over and over. A winner!!


Karyn September 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Greatas written.. Added a bit more salt pepper and about a tablespoon of pesto to taste. Would also be good with Dijon mustard perhaps some anchovy for different version


Dori Lewis April 7, 2014 at 9:47 am

I love the creamy pesto dressing recipe to use with my own homemade pesto I freeze each year.


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