How To Make Vinaigrette
Cheaper and healthier than store-bought salad dressing, vinaigrette is also a snap to make at home. Our Test Kitchen shows you how it's done.
By Peggy Woodward, Food Editor and Kelsey Mueller, Senior Digital Editor
When made well, vinaigrette is a perfectly balanced dressing that spruces up any salad or vegetable it touches. Because the recipe is so simple—oil and vinegar plus spices—you can start with a basic ratio and tweak it to suit your taste.
Seriously: Vinaigrette is a cinch to make. With our method, you don't even need a whisk.
The standard ratio of oil to vinegar is 3-to-1.
When might you vary the ratio?
- If you're eating food that's already bitter, such as kale, you'll probably want to use less vinegar.
- If you're eating rich, starchy food, like potatoes, consider increasing the amount of vinegar.
- If you're cooking for kids, they may prefer a less vinegary dressing until they get used to the taste. (You can also add a pinch of sugar!)
How to Make Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Seal and shake well. You'll be able to see the mixture emulsify as the vinegar and oil mix.
Pour the dressing over a salad.
Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Before serving, shake the jar to re-emulsify the dressing.
Variations on Vinaigrette
Vinaigrette is extremely adaptable. Here are just a few ways to make it your own:
- Vary the vinegar. Balsamic tastes wonderful with tomatoes and leaf lettuces. Both red wine and sherry vinegar pair well with hearty greens. White wine, champagne and apple cider vinegar are delicate enough to dress tender baby greens.
- Swap the vinegar for lemon and add a dash of honey. This makes a nice dressing for salads with pear or apple slices.
- Add mustard. A dash adds spice; a spoonful can be blended to create a thick, creamy dressing.
- Add mayonnaise to make a creamy, rich dressing.
- Add zip with an allium. Minced shallots make a classic French-style dressing. A dressing made with garlic pairs well with steak.
- Add fresh herbs of your choice. Toss in just one or go for a mix. Softer herbs, such as tarragon, basil and parsley, work well chopped or torn into the dressing. More robust herbs, like rosemary, should be steeped in the vinegar for at least 15 minutes and then removed before you add the oil.
- Add spices of your choice. Go beyond salt and pepper with dried lemon or orange peel, dried mustard, garlic powder, pepper flakes or a salad spice blend.
- Add cheese. (Obviously.) We especially like finely grated Parmesan.