One of my favorite things to make at home is salad dressing. You may have read my past post about my all-time favorite Magic Sauce dressing recipe. While I love Magic Sauce, it has a lot of ingredients, and I don’t always feel like getting the blender out to make it (no matter how much I love my blender). Thank goodness for vinaigrette. No matter what the situation, if you have oil, vinegar, and a bottle to put it in, you can make this tangy and delicious dressing or marinade.
I’ll be the first to admit that store-bought bottled vinaigrettes are super convenient and come in all kinds of creative flavors – hello, raspberry walnut! However, I can think of at least four reasons to make your own vinaigrette dressing: it’s quick & easy, healthy, inexpensive, and fun (in a foodie sort of way).
How and Why to Make Vinaigrette at Home
Since making vinaigrette is so easy, most of the “how” is actually the “why” of homemade vinaigrette.
Quick and Easy
With three (or four) ingredients and a commercial’s worth of time, you can make better-than-storebought salad dressing or marinade. Here’s what you’ll need:
Ingredients: oil, vinegar, salt, a bottle or jar with a leak proof lid.
Prep Time: About a minute to gather ingredients, another minute to combine and shake. Two minutes total. That’s it.
- Most bottled dressings have a lot of added sugar, salt, and preservatives. (We do expect them to sit on a store shelf for months and still be tasty, after all.)
- In addition, the oils used in bottled dressings tend to be cheap, very-highly-processed varieties. Read more about choosing oils here.
- When you make your own dressing, you can know and control exactly what ingredients go into it, and adjust to your taste and dietary preferences.
Bottled salad dressings definitely have their place, due to their convenience and portability. And, using them occasionally will not harm your health. For daily, at-home use; however, the healthiest, easiest, and most environmentally-friendly way to go is to make your own. Use a minimally processed oil (think extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil), good balsamic vinegar, some salt and seasonings – and you’ve got a healthy, low sugar dressing.
DIY Vinaigrette is Cheap
Yes, some salad dressings are dirt cheap, but holy cow, they are unnatural mixtures of water, sugar, “mixed” oils, and salt. Healthier bottled dressings, usually those found in the refrigerated section, can be as much as $10 for a 11-oz bottle.
Side note: Have you noticed how standard salad dressing bottles used to be 16 oz, but now, they are anywhere between 11 and 16 oz? I feel like there’s a food manufacturer conspiracy to sell less product at the same price. I digress …
14 oz of the basic dressing I make – 8 oz extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 4 oz balsamic vinegar, 2 oz mustard – costs about $3 at time of writing. Not bad. My EVOO and vinegar is organic, so the cost would likely go down if I used non-organic varieties.
Making Vinaigrette is Fun
If you have kids, or you’re a kid at heart, or you just like science … it’s cool to watch the oil and vinegar separate when you pour them into a clear container. If you add any other ingredients, then the fun continues, as you watch the mustard or salt or whatever interact with the oil and vinegar layers. That doesn’t even include the shaking part! Woohoo!
Here’s the first recipe I ever used to make my own vinaigrette – the part labeled “Dressing”. It inspired me to try new mixtures, ingredients, etc. Admittedly, I’m too efficient (lazy) to adhere to this recipe much anymore, but I still love it! (The recipe is from Cythia Lair’s 2008 edition of Feeding the Whole Family.)
Now that we’ve established how easy, healthy, inexpensive, and FUN it is to make your own vinaigrette, here’s how you do it. So easy!
1. Find Some Oil
- Food-grade (just so we’re clear) oil that’s liquid at room temperature.
- Coconut oil, lard, or bacon grease won’t work because they are solid at room temperature. Save them for cooking.
2. Find Some Vinegar
- Balsamic, wine vinegar, apple cider (careful, it’s bitter!) will all work.
- My favorite is balsamic because it’s acidic but also sweet, and I just love the flavor.
- Lemon or lime juice will do in a pinch – the goal is to have an acidic component.
3. Grab Your Salt. Any Salt
4. Add-Ins (Optional)
My usual additions are dijon mustard, garlic powder, paprika, sometimes honey or maple syrup. Feel free to get creative here – experiment and throw in whatever you think might be tasty. (Maybe make a sample batch if you want to try something really crazy.)
5. Choose an Oil-to-Vinegar Ratio
- 3:1 oil-to-vinegar is the classic ratio. For example, if you want to make about 16 oz of dressing, use 12 oz of oil and 4 oz of vinegar.
- 2:1 oil-to-vinegar is what I use. I’m a vinegar junkie, so using this ratio, I’d mix 8 oz of oil and 4 oz of vinegar.
- Full disclosure: I don’t actually measure my ingredients. I just “eyeball” it.
- The best guide for determining your vinaigrette ratio – taste!
6. Put Ingredients in Leak Proof Container
I use a re-purposed salad dressing bottle or glass jar.
7. Shake (or Stir)
Shake if there’s no fear of leaking – you’ll get a better emulsification.
See, making your own vinaigrette is dead simple (even the kids can help … maybe) and more delicious than commercial dressings! If you made this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think, what add-ins you used, or if you have another recipe you like.Print
Out of salad dressing, or just sick of paying for it? Make your own in 2 minutes with a few ingredients that you probably already have. It will be even better than the store-bought stuff!
- 8 oz (1 Cup) Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other oil of choice)
- 4 oz (1/2 Cup) Balsamic or other vinegar
- 2 oz (1/4 Cup) Dijon or grainy mustard
- salt and/or pepper to taste
- Pour the oil and vinegar into a bottle or jar that has a leak proof lid.
- Add salt, pepper, and any other add-ons to the oil and vinegar.
- Put on the lid and shake until the ingredients are combined. (If you don’t have a leak proof lid, use a fork or whisk to stir.)
- Adjust any ingredients to taste.
- Oil options: olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado, any oil that is a liquid at room temperature. Some oils may solidify in the refrigerator. If this happens, just let it sit out on the counter for a bit and/or shake vigorously.
- Vinegar options: balsamic, red wine, other flavored vinegars, even lemon or lime juice (watch out – they’re sour!). I do not advise using white vinegar, especially at first – it’s too bitter.
- Add-in ideas: Dijon mustard is my default. Also try maple syrup or honey, garlic, soy sauce, fruit juice, dried herbs and spices, the options are endless! I typically add a few tablespoons of mustard, about 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, and a few dashes of paprika to this recipe.
- This recipe uses a 2:1 Oil-to-Vinegar ratio. For the classic 3:1 oil-to-vinegar ratio, use 8 oz (1 cup) of oil and just over 2 oz (1/3 cup) of vinegar.
- Prep Time: 2 Minutes
- Category: Dressings and Sauces
- Method: No Cook
- Serving Size: 2 Tbsp
- Calories: 93
- Sugar: 2
- Sodium: 100
- Fat: 9
- Saturated Fat: 1
- Unsaturated Fat: 7
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 2
- Fiber: 0
- Protein: 0
- Cholesterol: 0
Keywords: vinaigrette, salad dressing, quick, dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free
Alfaro, Danilo. “6 Tips to Help You Make the Perfect Vinaigrette.” The Spruce Eats, The Spruce Eats, 8 Aug. 2019, www.thespruceeats.com/tips-for-making-vinaigrette-995906.
Heck, Mary-Frances. “Allow Us to Bust the Salad Dressing Ratio Myth.” Bon Appétit, Bon Appétit, 30 May 2017, www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/inside-our-kitchen/article/allow-us-to-bust-the-salad-dressing-ratio-myth.
Lair, Cynthia, and Peggy O’Mara. Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking with Whole Foods ; Recipes for Babies, Young Children, and Their Parents. Sasquatch Books, 2008.