How to Make a Basic Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette may be easy to prepare, but there is a method to its magic. Learn the key to success in our easy step-by-step guide.

Basic Vinaigrette Recipes

Photo: Randy Mayor

Easy, Homemade Vinaigrettes

The simplicity of a good vinaigrette is a thing of beauty. Grab a bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar, add a pinch of salt, and dull lettuce springs to life, veggies go from bland to bold, and meat finds a tangy marinade.

Vinaigrette may be easy to prepare, but there is a method to its magic. The keys to success start with good ingredients (since there are so few in the mix, it pays to reach for the top-shelf stuff) and end with emulsification, thoroughly blending the oil’s fat molecules and the watery vinegar. Adding a touch of creamy Dijon mustard helps the emulsification ­happen more easily.

From there, flavor as you see fit. Additions can be as simple as a pinch of salt and pepper or as complex as a bit of honey, fresh herbs, or minced shallots. Try our classic combination in the following slides.

Vinaigrette Ingredients

Photo: Randy Mayor

Step 1: Build a Flavor Base

Finely mince 2 tablespoons shallots so pieces will incorporate easily and spread throughout your dressing. Place in a bowl with 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard.

Add an Acid to Vinaigrette

Photo: Randy Mayor

Step 2: Add an Acid

Pour 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar into mixture with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; whisk to combine ingredients.

How to Emulsify Vinaigrettes

Photo: Randy Mayor

Step 3: Whisk in Oil

Slowly pour 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (almost drop by drop) into the mixture, whisking as you go to incorporate and create a creamy, emulsified finish.

Broken and Emulsified Vinaigrettes

Photo: Randy Mayor


When properly emulsified, ingredients are suspended throughout the mix (right). A broken vinaigrette (left) will have clear separation between the oil and vinegar. Store fresh-made vinaigrette in a covered container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Whisk before serving.

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