Pantry Basics: Homemade Vinaigrette

Oils and Vinegars

Our staple dressing is this homemade vinaigrette, which is so simple in it’s basic form that it will make anyone give up the store stuff. Plus, it’s really easy to put your own spin on it with herbs and seasonings. I’ve even dropped a little spoonful of raspberry jam into it, mixed it together and called it “Raspberry Vinaigrette.” But lets just keep that between us, OK?

If you’ve got vinegar and oil, you can make a dressing. Dijon mustard should become a staple as well, because it provides more substance as well as flavor. Add a little honey, if you like, some garlic and herbs and it’s “the bomb, baby!”

I have no idea what that means. Let’s just say it’s really good.

Basic Homemade Vinaigrette

I have certain jars I’ve accumulated that are my “dressing jars.” I like the shape and the way they look in the fridge and on the table. However, they aren’t the best mouth shape- they’re just a little too small- so I need to use a little funnel to fill them, but I’m OK with that. My mother-in-law just reuses bottles from the store, which is a good way to reuse glass.

Here’s the base recipe to get you started and some options for customizing at the end:


Pantry Basic Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 c. red wine vinegar
  • 2 T. Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  1. Whisk the first five ingredients together in a 1 or 2-cup measuring glass (or add straight to bottle for storage). Mix well.
  2. Add the oil (use the smaller amount for more “vinegary” dressing, the larger for a more oil-based one) and whisk until completely combined (it’s quicker to make straight in the bottle, but doesn’t mix as thoroughly as when whisked- I do either depending on my time-table).

Ta Da! That’s it, pretty easy, huh? Here are some ways to customize it:

  • Add a teaspoon or two of honey. If you’re accustomed to store-bought, you might want to add this to your first batches because there’s a lot of sugar in most brands. Then you can “wean” your family from the added sweet, if you want. Or not.
  • Add herbs. You can really go wild here, adding only one (call it “Basil Vinaigrette” or whatever herb you like), or a blend like Italian or Herbs de Provence.
  • Add a little hot sauce. This might not be for everyone, but we like it, especially over a salad of lettuce, onions, beans, tomatoes, olives and cheese. Sort of quasi-Mexican.
  • Substitute lemon juice for the vinegar. This is great for a Greek salad with feta and kalamata olives. Or any salad, really. It also makes a nice marinade for chicken and potatoes.
  • Use balsamic instead of the red wine vinegar. If 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar seems too much, just do half balsamic and half red wine.
  • Try rice vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. This makes a wonderful dressing for a light Asian-inspired slaw of cabbage, carrots, onions, and sesame seeds, especially when a splash of sesame oil and some sriracha are added as well.
  • Add a little pureed fruit. Raspberry vinegar, anyone? How about cranberry? Blackberry?



  1. says

    I used to make all my own dressings, but then kept getting free ones at the store and got out of the habit. But I don’t like what is in them, so am determined not to buy anymore.

    Oh, I gave you an award at my new homesteading blog, check it out please.

  2. Anonymous says

    I haven’t bought any salad dressing since you posted this and your honey mustard. Delicious! Thank you so much for sharing! What an amazing talent! By the way, where can we find that great salad dressing bottle. The pint canning jar we use doesn’t pour all that well =). -Amy (your littlest sis)

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