We’re going back to basics today with one of my most essential everyday recipes, vinaigrette! You know how much I love salads, and I’m surprised I didn’t think to share my basic vinaigrette recipe with you until now.
Homemade salad dressing tastes infinitely better than store-bought dressings. It’s fresh, bold and preservative-free, and you’ll only need a few ingredients to make it.
Vinegar and olive oil-based vinaigrette offers a light, zippy, heart-healthy salad dressing that’s great on greens, vegetables and fruits. You can change up the flavor by using different vinegars. Vinaigrette is easy to adjust to taste, and I’ve included notes how to do so in the recipe.
Homemade vinaigrette keeps for 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, so it’s worth the 5 minutes it takes to mix it up. Then you can keep it on hand for all of your salad needs.
The traditional French vinaigrette formula calls for 1 tablespoon vinegar for every 3 tablespoons olive oil. Modern vinaigrettes often call for a bit more vinegar than that, but it’s always up to you. Kale salads can tolerate more zingy dressings, while you’ll want to use less vinegar for mild greens like spring greens.
In addition to olive oil and vinegar, you’ll also need Dijon mustard for some flavor complexity and creaminess, maple syrup or honey for a little sweetness that balances the vinegar, garlic for oomph, and salt and pepper. Let’s get to it!
While you can use any tasty vinegar you’d like to make vinaigrette, here’s how I choose between my three go-to vinegars.
Balsamic vinegar makes a bold, slightly sweet dressing that is wonderful on green salads with fruit, such as apples, strawberries or peaches. Examples include my strawberry arugula salad and favorite green salad with apples.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
White Wine Vinaigrette
White wine vinegar a more mellow vinegar and it’s especially nice with more delicate flavors like spring greens, cucumber, zucchini and sweet corn. It’s lovely on just about every green salad out there. I’ve used it recently in my orange orzo salad and corn salsa.
Champagne vinegar is even more mild than white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar is sweet-tangy and tastes lightly of apples, and sherry vinegar is similar to red wine vinegar but slightly less intense.
Please let me know how you like this vinaigrette in the comments! I love hearing from you and I’m dying to hear about the salads you make with it (#saladobsessed).
If you’re looking for more salad dressings that keep well, don’t miss my sunshine salad dressing (yogurt-based honey-mustard dressing), my carrot ginger dressing or jalapeño-cilantro dressing (made a little creamy with some tahini).
How to Make Vinaigrette (Plus Variations!)
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: ¾ cup
- Category: Salad dressing
- Method: By hand
- Cuisine: French
Here’s my go-to vinaigrette recipe! It’s so easy to make and tastes way better than store-bought dressings. You can change up the flavors by choosing the vinegar that suits your salad best. Recipe yields ¾ cup dressing, enough for about 6 medium salads (assuming 2 tablespoons per salad).
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons vinegar of choice (balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a liquid measuring cup or bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Stir well with a small whisk or a fork until the ingredients are completely mixed together.
- Taste, and adjust as necessary. If the mixture is too acidic, thin it out with a bit more olive oil or balance the flavors with a little more maple syrup or honey. If the mixture is a little blah, add another pinch or two of salt. If it doesn’t have enough zing, add vinegar by the teaspoon.
- Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for future use. Homemade vinaigrette keeps well for 7 to 10 days. If your vinaigrette solidifies somewhat in the fridge, don’t worry about it—real olive oil tends to do that. Simply let it rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes or microwave very briefly (about 20 seconds) to liquify the olive oil again. Whisk to blend and serve.
Balsamic vinegar: Makes a bold, slightly sweet dressing that is wonderful on green salads with fruit, such as apples, strawberries or peaches.
Red wine vinegar: Packs a punch and works well with other bold flavors and bright veggies, like tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, cabbage and more (think Greek salads).
White wine vinegar: This is a more mellow vinegar and it’s especially nice with more delicate flavors like cucumber and sweet corn. It’s lovely on just about every green salad out there.
Greek/Italian variation: Use red wine vinegar. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano and, optionally, a pinch of red pepper flakes.