Once you start making your own vinaigrettes, you'll never want to buy another bottle of salad dressing. A good vinaigrette is just about the easiest thing you can make in the kitchen. :D
I've also included a list of great tasting mix ins on step three to help you up your vinaigrette game even more!
Step 1: Ingredients + Tools
- oil - olive, canola, sunflower, safflower, etc.
- vinegar - white wine, red wine, apple cider, rice wine, balsamic, etc.
- salt + pepper to taste
- a bowl + a whisk OR a small jar to shake everything together in
I use an old jam jar for mine most times, but there are actually nice bottles made just for mixing up dressings with recipes on the side. Pretty fancy!
You can also mix in all kinds of yummy things - skip to step three for some ideas. :D
My favorite vinaigrette is olive oil and white wine vinegar with salt, pepper and lemon zest - it tastes like summer!
Step 2: The Magic Vinaigrette Ratio
3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.
BOOM. That's it. Easy, right?
Of course there will always be some exceptions, but this ratio should never steer you too far off course. It's very easy to correct, no matter how strong the vinegar is! :D
Step 3: Getting Fancy With Vinaigrettes
If you want to go above and beyond there are so many things you can mix in to a vinaigrette! I love shallots and fresh herbs the most, but you've got loads of options:
- fresh herbs - dill, parsley, cilantro, basil - anything that's not too woody!
- fresh citrus juice - lemon is lovely. just replace some of the vinegar with the juice.
- fresh citrus zest (I do this almost every time!)
- mustard - a bit of dijon or yellow mustard adds a little extra tang.
- nut oils like hazelnut, almond or walnut in small amounts add lots of flavor - mix them in with your base oil.
- sugar - adding a pinch of sugar will give you a sour and sweet vinaigrette - great for dressing coleslaw or marinating meat.
- honey - even better than sugar in some cases!
- tahini - add some to your oil for a punch of sesame flavor
- bacon fat and pan drippings - adds loads of flavor! Just mix a little into the oil you're using.
- minced sun dried tomatoes - lots of color and a little smoky flavor. :)
- grated cheese - a little Parmesan goes a long way.
- minced garlic - start with a teeny bit and work your way up!
You can also add in dried herbs and spices, but I find that it's best to add them to the oil first and warm it slightly. Otherwise you won't get as much flavor from them.
I do all of these to taste every time - just keep adding and mixing and tasting!
Step 4: Mixing and Storing Your Vinaigrette
Once you've got everything measured out, you'll want to whisk it in bowl OR pour it into a jar with a tight lid and shake to emulsify the vinaigrette. I much prefer the jar method. :D
Keep in mind that your vinaigrette will separate fairly quick, so having it in a container for easy mixing is best.
Storing your vinaigrette:
- plain vinaigrettes (just oil, vinegar, salt, pepper - nothing fresh!) can be stored for a looooong time. Months, even! I like to keep mine in the fridge just to be safe. Just keep an eye on it - if you see something growing in there don't eat it. ;)
- vinaigrettes with fresh mix-ins will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days, but after that they begin to lose flavor and freshness.
- to warm up cold vinaigrette, set the container in a bit of hot water for a moment. That'll make it easy to emulsify it again.
I have to admit I don't often store my vinaigrettes, though! I tend to make just enough for a meal instead of loads at once. That way none of it goes to waste or ends up in the back of the fridge growing a glorious mane of mold hair. :D