Cooking Tip Thursdays: The Basic Vinaigrette

Cooking Tip Thursdays is dedicated to making time in the kitchen quicker, easier, and just plain better….

When it comes to eating light and fresh, one of the easiest things you can do is swap out bottles of purchased salad dressing in favor of a homemade vinaigrette.  Simple, quick, and easy, the basic vinaigrette is truly a thing of beauty.  Not to mention it tastes considerably better and avoids any unknown or suspicious ingredients.  But there is also a method to the beauty, as making a vinaigrette is more technique than recipe. The key to success starts with good ingredients and ends with emulsification, thoroughly blending the oil’s fat molecules and the acid’s watery base. When properly emulsified, ingredients are suspended throughout the mix, while a broken vinaigrette will have clear separation between the oil and vinegar.  Often an emulsifier, such as mustard, honey, or mayo, are added to increase creaminess and keep the dressing from breaking.

Keys to a successful vinaigrette:

Step 1 – Have the right proportion: The traditional ratio of fat to acid in a vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part acid. This ratio should be used only as a guide, not law.

Step 2 – Build a flavor base: Shallots, Dijon mustard, fresh herbs, roasted garlic, honey, or soy sauce are excellent additions.

Step 3 – Add an acid: any type of vinegar (white or red wine, sherry, champagne, rice, balsamic, or apple cider), as well as acidic fruit juices like orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit.

Step 4 – Whisk in oil: Slowly whisk oil (extra-virgin olive oil, walnut oil, hazelnut oil, sesame oil, etc…), almost drop by drop, into the mixture, whisking as you go to incorporate and create a creamy, emulsified finish.

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing

This is a bare-bones recipe for a simple all-purpose vinaigrette, which you can vary as you wish.

Yield: 1 cup


1/4 cup white-wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.  SLOWLY add 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, whisking continuously until emulsified. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve.

Fresh-made vinaigrettes will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator in a covered container.  Re-whisk before serving.



3 thoughts on “Cooking Tip Thursdays: The Basic Vinaigrette

  1. So I am falling in love with your blog! I started a food blog just a few days ago and this is my frist time poking around wordpress for other’s blogs! I make my own vinaigrette about 3-4 times a week. I started serving greens with dinner a lot and its my favorite way to prepare them! Recently, my partner and I found this great oil and vinegar tap room and took home a bottle of dark chocolate aged balsamic and a blood orange infused olive oil. It makes the most incredible dressing, not to mention we drizzle the olive oil on fruit in the morning and the vinegar on ice cream in the evening. Anyway, I’m off to comment on more posts 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Eric!! I checked your blog out and it’s really great. Welcome to the wordpress world 🙂 And by the way, I too love blood orange olive oil (I found it at a farmers market in the Hamptons last summer and became obsessed…I posted a seared scallop recipe with it last year), but more importantly, you HAVE to tell me where you found dark chocolate balsamic!

      • The Balsamic came from Seasons Taproom. It’s literally a tap room for oils and vinegars… you just walk around and sample them… about 30-40 of them actually. They are REALLY reasonably priced and luckily for my partner and I, only about an hour and a half away. Here is their website. I’m not sure where you live, but Bethlehem is a cute little town. It totally worth stopping by for lunch at a cafe and then a trip to the Taproom!

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