The Basic Perfect Vinaigrette

Ah, the vinaigrette.

I fairly screams summer and freshness.

It should. It is.

Take the time to look on the back of any store-bought salad dressing. It will not be a happy thing. Full of stuff you have never heard of and which is in there to stabilize and preserve.

Making a vinaigrette is simple. It’s a math thing. It’s 4:1 except when it’s 3:1. And after a while, you dispense with measuring cups and spoons altogether, because you can feel when it’s right.

A vinaigrette is the most versatile of dressings. You can add and subtract a few dozen things and get a great new taste.

Better yet, a vinaigrette goes over regular salads, roasted veggies, potatoes, meat salads of every kind, and pastas hot and cold. Top a mild fish or a chicken breast. So, listen up to the basics, and note the choices, and become the queen or king of the salad buffet with your wonderful creations.


  • 3/4 c good quality EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 1/4 c vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt, and several grinds of pepper


  1. Use a whisk, or place all ingredients in a jar with a tight lid and shake it up. You are done.

See? Wasn’t that easy?

Now here are some choices:

For OIL:

  • olive oil
  • canola
  • corn oil
  • walnut oil
  • safflower
  • basically anything but peanut oil which I don’t think would work


  • white vinegar, or cider
  • rice wine, white wine or red wine
  • balsamic
  • lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit juice

With the more delicate of vinegars such as lemon and rice wine, increase to a 3:1 ratio


  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • chives, parsley, cilantro, marjoram, green onions, minced, lemon balm
  • dried tomatoes minced, fresh ginger root, hot peppers, minced
  • smokey paprika, cumin, chili powder, or cayenne
  • add a tbsp of mayo for a creamy texture, or honey for sweetness

It’s that simple. Just look at what you want to add it to and think of what would taste good.

Make for a single salad by using 3 tsp oil to 1 tsp vinegar, and then cut down on all the rest. After a few times, you will not even think about it, just do it. Obviously make for a crowd by multiplying up.

Note: if you want an herbal” vinaigrette, you might want to put everything in a blender to puree the herbs.



10 thoughts on “The Basic Perfect Vinaigrette

    • Mostly I find that homemade just taste so much better. That is certainly true of a basic vinaigrette. The bottled stuff uses too much cheap vinegar for starters!

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