With a few pure, simple ingredients and about 5 minutes of your time, you never have to be ‘out’ of salad dressing again!
I grew up with mostly store-bought salad dressings (like many of you, I assume) and when I moved out on my own, it didn’t even occur to me to make salad dressing. By the time I realized you could make oil-and-vinegar dressings (“vinaigrette”) at home, it was sorta mind-blowing how easy it was (like many of the other pantry basics I also found could be easily made at home).
While I make lots of salad dressings now (Caesar, Honey Mustard, and more) our staple salad dressing is an easy homemade vinaigrette that at it’s basic is oil + vinegar + Dijon + seasonings. You really don’t have to put up with additives or lots of sugar like the store stuff!
The other thing about having this basic recipe in your arsenal is that it’s really easy to put your own spin on it with different vinegars, herbs, seasonings, and other ingredients to create lots of different salad dressings.
To get you started, I’m going to share the basic vinaigrette ingredients and then show you how to add or change ingredients to make three other dressings: Balsamic, Lemon-Herb, and Asian Style (and you’ll also find even more ideas for variations in the full recipe).
Basic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
olive oil + cider vinegar + Dijon + garlic + salt & pepper (honey or other sweetener optional) = Basic Vinaigrette
Your basic vinaigrette can start with any vinegar or oil you have, really, but since it’s only a few ingredients, it’s nice to use a quality olive oil and flavorful vinegar that’s milder than plain white (though it will do in a pinch!) like apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. Leave as-is or add Italian seasonings for ‘Italian’ dressing.
Balsamic Salad Dressing
basic vinaigrette ingredients + balsamic = Balsamic Salad Dressing
All you need to do is lower the amount of your base vinegar (cider, red wine, etc) some and add balsamic vinegar to create your own fancy-schmancy balsamic salad dressing. Not all balsamics are the same, though – if you’re using an aged balsamic that’s thicker (and sweeter) you’ll want to add just a Tablespoon or two. If your balsamic is the regular variety, you may be able to use mostly balsamic, but most balsamic dressings have another type of vinegar.
Since balsamic is naturally sweeter, you probably won’t need any honey if you used it in the basic recipe.
Lemon-Herb Salad Dressing
olive oil + lemon + Dijon + garlic + herbs of choice + salt & pepper = Lemon-Herb Dressing
Simply replace the vinegar with lemon juice, add herbs and you’ve made a lemon herb salad dressing. A completely different flavor from the base recipe – how easy is that? It’s wonderful for Greek salads with feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions.
Asian Style Salad Dressing
olive oil+ rice vinegar + sesame oil + Dijon + honey (not pictured) + sriracha sauce + garlic + s&p = Asian Dressing
Did you know you could take the same basic vinaigrette recipe, use rice vinegar and add Asian flavor from sesame oil and sriracha sauce to make an Asian dressing? Yep, it’s that easy! This is perfect for Asian inspired cabbage slaws (cabbage + carrots + onions + sesame seeds) and noodle salads.
Click the arrow for the printable recipe & an easy mixing tip!