Learn to make vinaigrette from scratch and there won’t be any bottled salad dressings cluttering up your refrigerator door anymore!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used plenty of bottled salad dressing in my lifetime. In fact, I wouldn’t even touch a “prepared salad” until I was in my teens.
Despite my love of cooked vegetables, I was not a fan of a bowl of lettuce and raw vegies. Not one to give up easily, my mom would disguise my salads as “crudite and dip” as a appetizer while doing homework or watching television. She was determined that I grow up eating salads!
THE REASON YOU PROBABLY DON’T MAKE YOUR OWN VINAIGRETTE IS BECAUSE THE LAST TIME YOU DID, IT WAS “BLAH”. AM I RIGHT?
Too much oil, not enough sugar and salt. That’s exactly what trips up most home cooks before they learn to make vinaigrette from scratch the right way!
So, now it’s time for you to learn to make vinaigrette from scratch! Let’s get started!
The essence of a fabulous vinaigrette is its consistency, or texture. There’s something absolutely magical about the silky “mouth-feel” of a perfectly emulsified salad dressing draped over a fabulous array of salad greens.
The standard equation of almost any simple vinaigrette comes down to this: 1 part acid to 2 /3 parts oil
I’ve eaten plenty of salads in my day that were just plain, or even a bit “slick”.
The reason most often is the proportions were off. Too much oil or not enough acid. The balance between oil and vinegar can be delicate. Especially when you’re playing with more ingredients, like shallots or garlic, it’s even more important to remember the oil/vinegar ratio.
All vinaigrettes contain an acid. Whether it’s a vinegar or maybe a citrus juice, an acid element is absolutely essential to a flavorful vinaigrette.
Let’s start by identifying some of the different acid ingredients you can use to change up your vinaigrettes:
Wow, that’s a lot of different flavoring choices you can make, isn’t it? You can see, that once you’ve mastered the proportions of making a great vinaigrette, the flavor possibilities are endless!
When it comes to the beautiful consistency of a fine vinaigrette, that comes from using a binding element in your recipe.
In a vinaigrette an emulsifier, or binder, is something for the oil to cling to. It brings the acid, oil and flavorings together to form a harmonious balance and thickened texture to the dressing.
My all time favorite, and one of the most popular is Dijon mustard. It does double duty by adding tons of flavor while providing the emulsifying action necessary for a good vinaigrette. Both finely minced garlic or ginger will do the trick too.
You need to think of your vinaigrette like the “sauce” you put on your meats.
They need to be properly seasoned, both with salt and some kind of sweetening element. You want to use plenty of flavorings like fresh or dried herbs and/or garlic or shallots.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the biggest problem with many homemade vinaigrettes is that they don’t use enough stuff. And by stuff, I mean, herbs, garlic, shallots or fruits. These are the things that truly make a vinaigrette shine when added to a fabulously fresh salad.
Let’s take a look at some ingredient suggestions that can add lots of flavor to your vinaigrette:
Don’t by shy when it comes to adding salt, sweeteners and flavorings to your vinaigrette.
Make sure you taste it along the way to ensure the flavors are perfect for its use and has a nice salty/sweet balance. If the flavors aren’t quire right, now is the time to adjust and perfect them. Whisk, whisk, and then taste again!
NAN’S TIP: DON’T TASTE YOUR VINAIGRETTE WITH A SPOON. RATHER, DIP A PIECE OF LETTUCE INTO THE MIXTURE TO ACCURATELY JUDGE THE CONSISTENCY AND FLAVORS.
Now that you’ve got the base for your vinaigrette in the bowl, it’s time to add the final touch!
Although you can reach for any number of oils for your vinaigrette, I happen to think that extra-virgin olive oil is the best choice. I will make one caveat to that, and that is it must be a high-quality olive oil.
And as far as I’m concerned, the fruitier, the better. I love a nice green tinted pressed oil that’s full of nuance and has a lovely fruity flavor profile.
But, if you want to experiment with different oils as you learn to make vinaigrette from scratch, here’s some others to try:
You don’t want to add your oil all at once! That’s exactly why you’re reading this article! To learn to make vinaigrette from scratch, and to do it right.
You want to dibble the oil into your base mixture little, by little, whisking the whole time. Take your time with this process, adding the oil in a thin stream from about a foot above your bowl.
This process allows the oil to become fully incorporated by breaking it up into small bubbles as it is combined with the base. When done correctly, your vinaigrette will resemble a creamy, lush sauce.
Why that was so easy, I could have been making my own vinaigrette a long time ago!
Now that you know exactly how to make a lovely vinaigrette, I have three recipes that I want to share with you! All three are fabulous, tasty and perfect for all your Summer salads!
This strawberry salad dressing is sweet, and tart, all at the same time!
It absolutely makes any salad irresistible! Even better, you can whip it up in just 5 minutes.
I imagine you’ve already tasted a lovely salad with spinach and strawberries at some point in your travels. Maybe you already have it on your Summer menus.
But, have you ever actually made a salad dressing from strawberries? It’s light, sweet, and tangy, and perfect for green salads. Made with apple cider vinegar and a sweetener, like maple syrup, it’s just that perfect amount of sweet.
Even better, it takes only 5 minutes to whip up in a blender. Put it on a strawberry spinach salad, and you’ve got a fabulous crowd-pleasing plate of fruits and veggies.
Serving Ideas for Strawberry Salad Dressing
Get the recipe here: Strawberry Salad Dressing
Learn to make vinaigrette from scratch and you’ll always have a delicious salad just a moment away!
This zesty homemade Italian dressing recipe is full of flavor and so easy to have ready in your refrigerator all Summer long!
The flavor is zesty and bright, full of garlic, wine vinegar, and balanced with a touch of sweetener.
Then of course it’s mixed together with extra virgin olive oil to form a creamy emulsion. It’s also got a touch of Dijon mustard added in to give a little more zing.
Of course, feel free to throw in some dried or fresh herbs if you have them on hand. It’s hard to ruin this recipe!
Here’s a list of additions that go well in a Zesty Italian Vinaigrette:
NAN’S TIP: Adding Dijon mustard to a salad dressing aids in the thickening or “emulsion” of the vinaigrette.
Get the recipe here: Zesty Italian Vinaigrette
You will not taste a better balsamic vinaigrette in a bottle. And that’s a promise!
When you learn to make vinaigrette from scratch, you open up a whole world of possibilities! Getting creative and making a different dressing every time can be very become intoxicating for a home cook.
But I caution you on this one aspect of “riffing” recipes: Take notes!
It’s really hard to duplicate your fabulous creation if you don’t take notes on what and how much you’re adding to the bowl! I’ve been disappointed more than once when I was unable to exactly duplicate a prior fabulous concoction!
But when you first learn to make vinaigrette from scratch, you might want to follow the recipes. It’s best to wait until you get a feel for the proportions that encompass salad dressings before wandering off the beaten path.
With just a handful of ingredients you can make a vinaigrette that rivals any store-bought brand in both taste and cost.
Here’s all you need:
I’m not kidding when I say this is the best-ever balsamic vinaigrette recipe! It’s taken quite a few attempts before arriving at this luscious combination of flavors. I hope you try it really soon!
Get the recipe here: Best-Ever Balsamic Vinaigrette
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