A vinaigrette dressing can take a salad from yum to WOW. Here is everything you need to know about making a Vinaigrette dressing from scratch.
Serving a tasty salad is a great way to up your romantic dinner game, encourage everyone to eat more veggies, or mix up your weeknight dinner menu.
A surefire way to make a salad everyone wants to eat is to make a homemade vinaigrette to serve on top of your leafy greens. It may sound like something only a top chef can do, but making a salad dressing at home takes no more than five minutes, and makes every salad unique and extra tasty.
Why make your own dressing?
- Cheaper than store bought, and you won’t waste what you don’t use
- Fresher than the bottle that’s been in your fridge since your last move
- Easy to make; you have most ingredients at home
- Tasty because it’s fresh, it fits the salad you want to make, and can be modified to fit your personal preferences
- Fast; at no more than five minutes, and leftovers can be stored for a week or more in the fridge
How to make a vinaigrette
A basic vinaigrette is made of olive oil or another tasty oil, a flavorful vinegar, salt, pepper and a flavor, like Dijon mustard or another herb. The ratio is about 3:1 oil to vinegar, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.
You don’t have to buy a fancy or expensive oil to have a great salad dressing; most oils will work. Olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil and avocado oil are great. Be careful when you pick an olive oil to make sure it’s extra virgin or a blend designed for salads. Aim for a neutral or good tasting oil, and trust your gut, you know what tastes good.
Vinegars such as red wine, balsamic, sherry, or apple cider are great for salad dressing because they have good flavors but aren’t too tart.
If you want to modify your dressing to enhance a salad, consider the type of salad you’re making. You can add a sweetener like honey or maple syrup to the dressing to make it sweet. Or, you could add garlic, mustard, herbs and spices.
Once you settle on your flavor profile, add all ingredients except the oil to a bowl, and whisk in the oil slowly. Or, add everything to a Mason jar, seal it tight and shake vigorously to emulsify the dressing.
Taste the dressing by dipping a piece of green into the dressing to make sure it will taste good on the salad. Finally, just serve on top of the salad, or with it on the table.
My Go To Vinaigrette Recipe:
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Ten Helpful Tips
- Basic recipe is 3:1 vinegar to oil, plus spices as desired
- Check the oil label, most list their ideal uses on the front
- If your oil is from your cupboard, make sure it’s not rancid. Rancid oil has a slightly sweet, off-putting flavor and smell
- Use any vinegar but avoid plain white vinegar; it’s not ideal because it’s too strong
- Add the oil last, slowly, or shake it in a Mason jar to ensure it’s blended
- If you’re adding larger herbs and spices like garlic or rosemary, use the blender to ensure the pieces are small and uniform
- Add liquid sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup or agave, not sugar, as it won’t dissolve as quickly
- Taste test your dressing by dipping a piece of lettuce into it, and adjust to your preference
- Store the oil in a Mason jar and shake it before each use
- Label and date the oil with a reusable or disposable label for easy reference
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Canola oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Avocado oil
- Walnut oil
- Peanut oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Sherry vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- Lemon or citrus juice
Sweets and Savory Add Ins
- Maple syrup
- Dijon mustard
- Dry mustard
- Crushed red pepper
- Lemon/citrus peel
- About the Author
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Natalie Clark is a mother of three children and a cooking enthusiast. She can often be found concocting delicious meals for family and friends in her kitchen. Homemade cookies are what she’s made for. From working in Washington DC to being a stay-at-home mom and part-time editor, Natalie has done it all. Through her life adventures, she’s developed her cooking skills and has developed some of the most popular recipes on Simply Side Dishes.