Homemade Vinaigrette

4.75 from 4 votes

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This basic homemade vinaigrette recipe lets you create your own house salad dressing in minutes. Use on simple salads or drizzle over chicken.

Steakhouse Tomato Salad

Salad dressing is somewhat of a hot button for many of us. We either have a little fear of it and keep hitting the bottle (bottled dressing, of course), which is often pretty gross, or we get stuck in a one-dressing rut.

Jars of three different types of vinaigrettes.

What Is Vinaigrette Dressing?

First of all, vinaigrette is just French for oil and vinegar salad dressing. Okay, no, that’s not quite true, but it certainly is partly true and this is helpful in making things much less scary.

This basic homemade vinaigrette recipe lets you make a classic vinaigrette in two minutes. My family likes their dressing pretty vinegary. If you don’t, use less vinegar. And try adding the minced shallot at least once; I really think (along with the Dijon mustard) it’s what makes a classic vinaigrette a vinaigrette. However, you can for sure add other members of the onion family, and whatever fresh herbs you like.

Farro and Arugula Salad with Orange Herb Vinaigrette in serving bowl.

Homemade Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Vinegar – I like to use a combo of two vinegars to get different kinds of flavors going (see below for more on that).
  • Shallot
  • Mustard – like Dijon best, but all kinds of mustards will work.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

What Kind of Vinegar to Use in Vinaigrette?

You can use pretty much any type of vinegar in your vinaigrette that you like.

Here’s my favorite very basic vinaigrette tip: Use two different vinegars in your dressing. This creates a very nice kind of layering of flavors and just takes it to a slightly higher level, all for the extra 20 seconds it takes to open a second bottle of vinegar.

Some favorite combos:

  • red wine and sherry vinegars
  • balsamic and red wine vinegars
  • white wine and unseasoned rice vinegars.

Vinaigrette dressings are a really nice way to have some fun in the kitchen with your kids that doesn’t involve baking. Mine are endlessly experimenting in the vinaigrette department — it’s like a chemistry project that you can eat. They like nothing more than a balsamic vinaigrette, heavy on the balsamic.

How to Adjust the Flavors of Vinaigrette

Finally, vinaigrette is so forgiving. Too oily? Add more vinegar. Too tart? Add more oil. Too bland? Add more salt or maybe a bit of mustard. Too salty? Add more oil and maybe some vinegar. When you get your perfect balance, you’ll just have a bigger stash of vinaigrette to tuck in the fridge. And again, minced shallots, onions, or scallions, herbs like tarragon, basil, oregano, and thyme, and flavored mustards all allow you to keep changing things up.

Vinaigrette Oil to Vinegar Ratio

The ratio of oil to vinegar is quite subjective. Many people like a 2 to 1 ratio of oil to vinegar. For a milder vinaigrette go with 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. My family, however, likes a pretty potent vinaigrette, especially if there are more flavorful or bitter lettuces in the salad, so I have gone as far as 1:1 oil to vinegar.

Vinaigrette Add-Ins

Add any of the following to the rest of the vinaigrette alone or in combination.

  •  1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion or 1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic with, or instead of, the optional shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs or 1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs — either a single herb or a combination; basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley are some good choices
  • 1 teaspoon minced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon minced black olives 
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons crumbled or grated cheese, such as goat cheese, feta, blue cheese, or Parmesan
Haricot Verts with Chervil Vinaigrette on white plate.
Green Beans with Chervil Vinaigrette

How to Make Vinaigrette

You do not have to follow the order of adding the ingredients as below, it’s pretty random.

  1. Add mustard and vinegar: Place 1 or 2 teaspoons of mustard in a bowl. Add some vinegar, about 1/3 to 1/2 cup. I like my vinaigrette strong, so you may want to start with a bit less.

Kitchen Smarts

You can also use a container with a lid and shake the dickens out of it.

Woman adding mustard and vinegar to a bowl for vinaigrette.
  1. Add shallots and salt: Add some minced shallots (or onions or garlic). Season with salt, preferably sea salt or kosher.
Woman adding shallots and salt to bowl for vinaigrette.
  1. Add oil and pepper: Add olive oil, about 1/2 a cup. Season with pepper.
Adding oil and pepper to bowl of homemade vinaigrette.
  1. Mix and use: Whisk away until blended.
Whisking homemade vinaigrette and pouring over salad.

How to Use Vinaigrette

Of course, you can use vinaigrettes to dress simple salads made from lettuces. But you can use different vinaigrettes in all kinds of ways, from dressing other grain and vegetable salads to drizzling over a piece of cooked chicken or fish or finishing a main dish salad.

Tarragon vinaigrette atop a Salmon filet.
Salmon with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Make Ahead and Storage

You can store vinaigrette in the refrigerator, in a tightly sealed container, for up to a week. Let the vinaigrette sit out for 10 to 15 minutes to come to room temperature and give it a good shake to mix it again before using.

More Vinaigrette Recipes

More Homemade Salad Dressings

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4.75 from 4 votes

Homemade Vinaigrette

This basic homemade vinaigrette recipe lets you create your own house salad dressing in minutes. Use on simple salads or drizzle over chicken.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings
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Ingredients 

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ to ½ cup vinegar (of your choice, such as red wine, white wine, balsamic, unseasoned rice, and cider)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (or more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • Put the olive oil, vinegar(s), shallot, if using, mustard, and salt in a bowl or container with a lid. You can continue with Step 2 or go directly to Step 3.
  • Whisk the vinaigrette to mix, or cover the container and shake it well. Taste for seasoning, adding more mustard and/or salt if necessary and pepper to taste. Use about 1 teaspoon of dressing per cup of salad.

Notes

Add any of the following to the rest of the vinaigrette alone or in combination.
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion, or 1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic, with, or instead of, the optional shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs, or 1 1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs — either a single herb or a combination; basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley are some good choices
  • 1 teaspoon minced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon minced black olives
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons crumbled or grated cheese, such as goat cheese, feta, blue cheese, or Parmesan

Nutrition

Calories: 98kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 122mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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2 Comments

  1. Annie says:

    I love a good vinaigrette and this is my go to

  2. Kay says:

    Excellent, very versatile n tangy. Thank you for sharing.