Few recipes are as simple and rewarding as homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Tart, sweet, and incredibly versatile, this easy dressing is great drizzled over salad, tossed with roasted vegetables, or used as a marinade.
I have been making homemade vinaigrette for so long that it feels like a key step in making dinner many nights. And it has many more potential uses beyond just adding to salads (see below for my favorites!). Though served over salad is undeniably a great use for it. Whether you grab a salad from the grocery store salad bar, make a classic spinach salad, or use simple mixed greens, whipping up this quick balsamic vinaigrette recipe with oil and vinegar makes dinner feel a little more special.
Here’s everything you need to know to make the best balsamic vinaigrette dressing you’ve ever had!
- Garlic - Aromatics add rich flavor to vinaigrettes / dressing. Instead of garlic, a small amount of grated or minced shallots or onions work well.
- Balsamic Vinegar - There’s no need to use a very expensive balsamic vinegar in your vinaigrettes. Although you might get more rich flavor from some of the pricier (more aged) varieties, any type that you can buy from your grocery store will probably make a decent dressing.
- Dijon Mustard - The tart flavor of mustard goes so well here, but mustard also helps to give the vinaigrette body and thickness that makes it pour well. I often feel like good mustard is the secret to the best balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
- Honey - A little sweetness balances the tart flavors from the mustard and vinegar. Feel free to use any sweetener (maple syrup, sugar, or agave) or skip it for a more tart dressing.
- Extra Virgine Olive Oil - Olive oil is the classic oil to use in balsamic vinaigrette, but a neutral oil will also make a great dressing (like avocado, vegetable, grapeseed, or canola).
- Salt and Pepper - Be sure to season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper so that all the flavors really pop.
How to Make this Recipe
- In a bowl whisk together garlic, vinegar, mustard, honey, and dried herbs (if using).
- While whisking, add extra virgin olive oil.
- Season with some salt and pepper.
- Use immediately or refrigerate for 2 to 3 weeks.
Three Ways to Mix Vinaigrette
- In a bowl with a whisk: Combine all ingredients except for oil in a bowl. Whisk until evenly combined. Slowly pour the oil over the other top while whisking. Continue whisking until evenly combined.
- In a mason jar: Combine all of the ingredients in a mason jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until everything is evenly combined.
- In a blender or with an immersion blender: Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or in a narrow jar (that will fit the immersion blender). Blend until smooth.
I go into more detail on all of these methods and many variations for these classic dressing recipes in my post on how to make homemade vinaigrette.
How to Store Vinaigrette
Store balsamic vinaigrette in a well-sealed jar or container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.
- Add herbs (dry or fresh work)
- Make it spicy with hot sauce or red pepper flakes
- Add spices
- Increase or decrease sweetener
- Add mayonnaise for a creamy balsamic dressing
More Ways to Use Vinaigrette
- Use it as a marinade like for the chicken in Balsamic Chicken Salad
- Toss with Roasted Vegetables (before or after roasting)
- Glaze Roasted Meats (it’s great brushed over any cooked proteins or meatloaf)
- Dress your favorite salad (like Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, Kale Salad or Lentil Salad)
Traditional balsamic vinegar includes one ingredient - grape juice (or “must”). The grape juice is cooked until thick, bottled, and then fermented until it has a flavor that is sweet and tart. Balsamic vinaigrette is a dressing that contains balsamic vinegar with oil and other vinaigrette ingredients (often mustard and honey).
In most cases balsamic vinaigrette will last 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. If you make a variation that includes perishable ingredients like fresh herbs, use it within a week.
Yes. You can make this vinaigrette without any added sweetener or you can use maple syrup, sugar, or agave to sweeten it.
Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe
- Mixing Bowl
- 1 clove Garlic, grated or minced (optional)
- 3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 teaspoon Honey (see note)
- ½ teaspoon Dried Herbs (optional, see note)
- ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- In a small mixing bowl or glass jar, whisk together garlic, balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, and dried herbs. Slowly add in ⅓ cup olive oil while whisking. (Note: You can also combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake it well or blend everything using a blender.)
- Whisk in salt and some black pepper.
- Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
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