Sauces and Seasonings

Ultimate Guide to Homemade Vinaigrette

Ultimate Guide to Homemade Vinaigrette

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, “Can’t I just buy salad dressing?”  The answer is yes, and no!  So many salad dressings these days are full of unnecessary sugars, additives, and preservatives.  Not to mention, sub-par quality oils, and minimal flavor.  I promise, homemade vinaigrette is so simple, you may even have everything you need at home!  Further, you are in complete control over the flavor and quality of ingredients.

So now for the real lesson of the day – all you need to remember is 1:3.  Classic vinaigrette is one part vinegar to three parts oil.  Add a little salt and pepper, and you’ve got homemade vinaigrette.  Shake it in a jar, whisk it, or throw it in a small food processor or blender.  It is that simple!

If you want to really step your homemade salad dressing game up a notch, here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you there!

Choose your Vinegar

My favorite vinaigrette recipe (below), uses only one kind of vinegar – red wine vinegar.  But there is a big long list of other vinegars you can use to add flavor and dimension to your dressing.  You can choose to use one of these, or a combination.  Just remember your 1:3 ratio!

  • Champagne Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar (my favorite!)
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Tarragon Vinegar
  • Balsamic Vinegar (perhaps the most popular!)
  • Lemon, lime, or orange juice (great addition to vinegar, but do not substitute all citrus.  Swap out 1/2 of the vinegar if you’re going to use citrus.)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Sherry Vinegar (bold flavor, use sparingly)
  • Rice Vinegar (great for Asian dressings)

DO NOT use distilled white vinegar.  It is just too potent and aggressive for salad dressing.

Let’s Talk Oils

90% of the time for salad dressing I use a high-quality extra virgin olive oil.  I also really enjoy avocado and grape seed if I am going for a milder flavor.  The quality of oil is important and will ultimately impact the flavor.  A higher-quality olive oil with guarantee purity, but also yield the richest flavor.  I highly discourage the use of canola oil.

  • Extra-virgin olive oil (check label for 100% pure).  If you can find (and want to splurge for) a first-press oil, that’s my favorite!
  • Avocado
  • Grape Seed
  • Sesame Oil (great for Asian dressings)
Spice Things Up!

It is amazing what a little salt and pepper will do for your dressing.  But, you can add a whole host of other seasonings and herbs to add to the flavor profile.

  • Garlic – powder or crushed fresh
  • Onion – powder or chopped fresh
  • Chopped shallot
  • Mustard – dijon, or ground mustard seed
  • Fresh or dried herbs – oregano, marjoram, basil, parsley, thyme, dill
  • Ginger – fresh grated, or powder
  • For heat – crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chipotle pepper
  • Honey, brown sugar, or agave – the sugar helps balance the acidity if you find your dressing is too pungent.
Shake it, Mix it, Blend it!

This is the fun part!  Once you’ve chosen your oil, vinegar(s), and seasonings, it’s time to mix things up!  I add everything to a mason jar, and shake it up!  You can also use a bowl, and whisk your ingredients together.  Or, add everything to a small blender or food processor.  Your ultimate goal is to emulsify the oil, which means to incorporate the oil and vinegar together, since naturally they will separate.

Taste and Adjust

The flavors and seasonings in your dressing will continue to develop and blend over time.  Before serving, taste your dressing and adjust the flavor as needed.  Make sure to give it one last mix, shake, or blend before serving to ensure even flavor distribution.

And that’s all folks!  I know that seemed like a lot of information, but that’s just because I wanted to equip you with all of the information necessary to make a basic homemade vinaigrette, as well as flavor variations.

I’ve shared my favorite vinaigrette recipe below.  I hope you enjoy it!  Homemade dressing will last in the fridge 1-2 weeks depending on your ingredients.  If you use fresh herbs, fresh garlic, etc., the shelf life is about 1 week.

Amanda's Favorite Homemade Vinaigrette

Print Recipe
Serves: Makes 1 Cup Cooking Time: 5 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup aged red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

1

Add all ingredients to a mason jar, screw on the lid, and shake it up! You can also whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl, or blend them in a mini food processor.

Notes

Fresh salad dressing keeps in the fridge for 1-2 weeks depending on ingredients. If you're using fresh herbs, citrus juice, fresh garlic, or onion, the dressing will keep for about 1 week.

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