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How to Make Homemade Salad Dressing


Making homemade salad dressing is one of the first things Alex and I learned as new cooks, and we were fascinated. Nothing but a little olive oil and vinegar, and we could have dressing for days. Plus, we could avoid random preservatives and additives AND get rid of the centuries-old crusty bottles of ranch in our refrigerator. Sold!

When I first starting making homemade salad dressing, I made the mistake of lessening the amount of oil. Since then I’ve corrected my ways, because the oil is needed to correctly make the emulsion: that creamy, magical combination of vinegar suspended in oil. I’ve reworked our basic vinaigrette recipe (below) to reflect this, and made a few more changes to make it even simpler. Because salad dressing should be just that: simple. This one requires no mincing of garlic or shallot, just combine olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and a little honey, and whisk away.

Homemade salad dressing is easily customizable to your own tastes. A few dressing tips:

  • Use a 3 to 1 ratio of oil versus vinegar
  • For the acid, you can substitute balsamic, red wine, apple cider, or sherry vinegar, OR lemon, lime, or orange juice (play with quantities to taste)
  • Feel free to add in chopped herbs, minced garlic, minced shallot, fancy salts, you name it
  • Store in a glass jar with a tight lid in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature and stir before serving. (This dressing is likely shelf stable but we keep it in the refrigerator just in case.)

On the topic of homemade salad dressing, our latest A Couple Cooks Podcast episode is all about it! Plus, it includes a sweet giveaway of 3 bottles of California Olive Ranch olive oil — see the podcast page for details.

What are your favorite homemade dressings? Below are a few of ours, as well as our Super Simple Salad Dressing.
Basic Vinaigrette
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Healthy Green Goddess Dressing
Cilantro Lime Dressing
Honey Chipotle Dressing
*Creamy Peanut Lime Dressing* (TBD)

  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients except olive oil, then slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing thickens and an emulsion forms. Taste and adjust quantities as desired.
  2. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks; bring to room temperature and stir before serving.

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