Kitchen Tip: How to Make Vinaigrette

Cooking for a Crowd, Recipes, Weekend Cooking, Worknight Dinners
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Olive oil and spices

The best way to convince your friends and family that you’re a strong home cook – even if you’re just a novice – is to take an ordinary salad and turn it into masterpiece with a tasty homemade salad dressing.

In its simplest form, a homemade vinaigrette is made with oil and vinegar.

Beyond these basics, most vinaigrette today are flavored with citrus, herbs or spices.

When you make your own salad dressing, you’re the one calling the shots and you can use whatever you like to create a tasty dressing that won’t be too heavy on any one particular flavor – unless of course, you like it that way.

When you’re making your own vinaigrette, whether it’ for an instant salad dressing or a keep a few simple tips in mind.


Use a mild oil

When you’re making vinaigrette, try not to pick an oil that will overpower your dressing.  Start with an oil that has little flavor, like olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil or vegetable oil. The majority of the flavor will  come from your vinegar. Which brings me to my next point…

Choose a flavorful vinegar

Opt for the best quality that you can afford. The higher the quality, the less you’ll need to flavor your dressing. Red wine, white wine, apple cider and balsamic vinegar are all great options and you can mix and match them to create different flavors.

Be creative

I know this sounds like a platitude in cooking, but you really can take creative liberties when it comes to vinaigrette. For example: if you’re making an Italian meal, select some fresh garlic, along with oregano and basil for an delicious dressing.

Add fresh herbs — thyme, chives, basil and parsley are all good additions to salad dressing. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some roughly chopped basil goes a long way to brighten up a salad.


If that word sounds like something you learned in tenth grade chemistry, you’re not completely wrong. When you’re ready to create your vinaigrette,  mix the vinegar and any liquids except the oil, with your herbs. Do this by hand or with a food processor.

Once this step is complete, add the oil to emulsify. One way to do this is to whisk your vinegar + herb mixture while slowly drizzling the oil into your mixture. You can also process in a food processor or blender, drizzling the oil in slowly as you pulse or process.


Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
Recipe type: Weekend Cooking, Worknight Dinners
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 servings
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 heaping teaspoon honey
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds or until a creamy emulsion begins to form. You can also do this step by hand using a whisk or hand mixer.
  2. Taste and if the dressing feels too heavy on your tongue, add more vinegar, a teaspoon at a time, until the balance tastes right to you. If you have leftover dressing keep it in the fridge for up to three days, shaking well before each re-use.

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  • Reply
    Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Parmesan and Pecans
    April 24, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    […] and buy a bag of pre-shredded) 1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese 1/4 cup chopped pecan halves 1/4 cup homemade vinaigrette (or store-bought, I won’t be in your kitchen judging […]

  • Reply
    kelsey @ un-american in france
    June 13, 2011 at 3:05 am

    Mmm! When I was in Le Mans, my friend Emilie showed me how she makes vinaigrette – balsamic, dijon mustard, and oil. I’ve been addicted to it ever since! I put it on everything and lately I’ve changed it up to a bit: dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, balsamic (nix the oil). I put it on a really random pasta salad yesterday and it was heavenly (whole wheat rotini, tuna, cannellini beans, chopped beet).

  • Reply
    Michelle @ A Voracious Appetite
    June 10, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    You make it sounds so easy! I’m going to try this soon 🙂

  • Reply
    The Food Hunter
    June 8, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    a good vinaigrette is a great thing to know how to make. thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Samantha @ Bikini Birthday
    June 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Completely agree with the point about vinegar. I got some amazing balsamic vinegar from my brother in law at Christmas that was sweet and not too tart. It made me want to eat salad all the time just so I had an excuse to use the vinegar.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I love vinaigrette–this recipe sounds really good and so easy!

  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Lovely tips! I love vinaigrette and always try to be creative. Yours sounds wonderful.



  • Reply
    Sawsan@chef in disguise
    June 3, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Those are really helpful tips…I totally agree with you on the fact that a good dressing can transform a salad and take it to the next level..
    I really love experimenting with dressings and will definitely try yours soon

  • Reply
    Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets
    June 3, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Great tips! Thanks for this post — dressing is one of those things I know there’s no need to pay so much money for (plus all the emulsifiers and other additives) but keep being too lazy to make myself.

  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Your post about vinaigrettes is so much better than mine…Great tips… ^_^

  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Okay, this is what I love about your how to posts. I think I know everything about beer or wine or springforms pans and then you still teach me more. I love being taught and learning new things when it comes to food and the kitchen. Vinaigrette is truly so easy and you just made it look and sound even easier and so incredible. Can’t wait to try your version!

  • Reply
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    June 3, 2011 at 11:36 am

    You know, you’re quite right. Whenever I make a dressing people seem to be really impressed by the fact that it doesn’t come bought from a bottle!

  • Reply
    McKayla @ Green Groats
    June 3, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Great tips! I need to emulsify with herbs and vinegar more often. I think the word just scared me off in the past…haha.

  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Living in France, I began making homemade vinaigrette over 20 years ago but reading your post I realize I make the same basic recipe (the one you have) every time. I need to reread your advice and change it! New flavors, herbs, oils. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 3:33 am

    Home made vinegarette makes ANY plain salad taste better!!! Thanks for sharing Maris! Have a great day.

  • Reply
    The Harried Cook
    June 3, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Great post! I love homemade vinaigrette… awesome tips! Thanks for sharing, Maris 🙂

  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 6:36 am

    I absolutely love a beautiful homemade dressing. It is simplicity at its best!

  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 6:16 am

    I do not like buying dressings from the market…they mostly dont suit my liking.These are such fab tips!

  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Great post. I recently started making my own vinaigrettes at home, so these tips were helpful!

  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Thank you! I’ll definitely use this, my usual dressing choices are feeling kind of bleh and very high calorie. I also need a good use for the bottle of balsamic vinegar with truffle flavor since buying it for my burger experiment!

  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 3:25 am

    We always make our dressings. They have such a fresher taste. 🙂

  • Reply
    Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray
    June 3, 2011 at 2:50 am

    This sounds delicious! I’ve been wondering how to mix it up a little from my standard, boring (store-bought) vinaigrette, and this will be so helpful.

    One question, though (for Maris or any helpful chef here), because I’m a real newbie to this sort of thing–where does the shallot mentioned in step 1 come in on the ingredient list? Is that another name for something I’m not familiar with? I thought shallots were like onions, kind of…

    • Reply
      Maris Callahan
      June 3, 2011 at 2:59 am

      Hi Tara! I sent you an email but that was an error on my part and it’s been corrected.

  • Reply
    Lisa @ Tarte du Jour
    June 3, 2011 at 2:08 am

    I won’t ever use a bottled dressing… it’s so easy to whip up your own. I really like the honey in your vinaigrette! Nice post!

  • Reply
    Lisa from Lisas Yarns
    June 3, 2011 at 2:02 am

    I winged it and made my own vinaigrette when I was in Paris in February. It was SO good. Then I used an actual recipe when I was having dinner at my aunt’s on mother’s day. It was so simple and so delicious. And it took minimal effort!

  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 1:48 am

    It is so true that a simple, homemade vinaigrette just seems to impress people who are only used to storebought bottled dressings. I will have to try using both red wine and balsamic vinegars in my next vinaigrette- I have always used one or the other.

  • Reply
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet
    June 3, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Homemade salad dressing is just so much better tasting that store-bought. This recipe is the perfect base and I love that you have a little honey in it!

  • Reply
    The Waspy Redhead
    June 3, 2011 at 12:55 am

    This is a great recipe for classic vinaigrette (which as a sidebar, is one of the words I struggle with spelling most often in life). I have a trick for making a small batch – use an empty glass spice jar (like the McCormick ones we all have in the pantry). You can drop all the ingredients in, then it is super easy to shake because it’s so small. You can use what you need, then store the rest in the fridge. Just shake it up again when you use it out of the fridge because it will separate.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    I love making homemade dressings. They’re much lighter (and healthier, of course) than the typical heavy ranch dressing. I make a lemon vinaigrette often and use it for salad, chicken, bread, anything! It’s super versatile.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    I love using my immersion blender for dressings, it works great for getting that creamy texture.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Thank you for this simple recipe! I need to get better about making my own dressings.

  • Reply
    Nami @ Just One Cookbook
    June 2, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Hi Maris, I love your post. Most people buy all kinds of dressing (look at the supermarket shelf…), but I really enjoy simple dressing like this. We can actually taste the salad, the original ingredient, and I’d love to have a collection of simple dressing like this. I make similar one but without red wine vinegar, so of course this recipe will go into my folder. 🙂 Thank you for sharing!!

  • Reply
    June 2, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    What great advice! Homemade vinaigrette really is amazing, and can be so simple.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I agree and I LOVE a good vinaigrette! Great recipe

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