How to Make Homemade Salad Dressing—It’s Easier Than You Think!

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane /

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane /


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©2014 Shanna Lea

A fresh salad, a healthy lifestyle and summer—what could be better?  The salad dressing of course!  Have you read the labels on the salad dressings at the store?  They all have canola or soy oil and nasty preservatives.  After searching forever, I did find one that I absolutely love:  Bragg Organic Braggberry Dressing and Marinade.  I love it on my strawberry spinach salads.

But take a quick look at the ingredients on most other store-bought dressings and you may be surprised at what is listed:  high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, MSG, artificial colors and preservatives.  Why the industry thought that artificial anything in ingredients was supposed to make it seem “natural” is beyond me.

When you make your own dressings you control what goes into it.  It’s faster and easier than you think, plus you invest in your health with real food.

Vinaigrettes are fast, easy and delicious when homemade.  Make your own combinations up using this simple rule of thumb:  use 1 part vinegar (or other acidic ingredient) to 3 parts oil.

Basic Vinaigrette Recipe:

¼ c apple cider vinegar

¾ c olive oil

If you want more of a kick, try a 2:1 ratio instead.

Get creative with your ingredients: 


  • Red
  • Cider vinegar
  • Rice vinegar
  • Aged Balsamic
  • White Balsamic
  • Fruit-infused vinegars

Add Citrus juices to the recipe:

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit

When experimenting with flavors and amounts, test your vinaigrette as you make it.  Take one piece of lettuce and dip it into the dressing and take a bite.  This will give you a better idea on what the dressing will taste like with the salad, instead of guessing by tasting it “straight.”

Oil:  Choose a high quality extra virgin olive oil, or try avocado or walnut oil.  Olive oils infused with herbs like rosemary or garlic are delicious choices.

Mustard:    Try adding Dijon mustard to your vinaigrette.  This is a popular dressing and the mustard binds the other ingredients together.

There are lots of ways to customize vinaigrette to your own tastes.  Add minced garlic, onion, shallots, fresh or dried herbs, honey, fruit juices or zests.  Here is a basic recipe to get you started.

Basic Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

¾ c extra virgin olive oil

¼ c balsamic vinegar

2 Tbs Dijon mustard

2 tsp honey

1-2 cloves finely minced garlic

salt and pepper, to taste

Mixing the Vinaigrette:

3 ways to mix it up:

  • Combine the oil and vinegar in a blender.
  • Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.  (Don’t use aluminum—the acid in the vinegar will react to it and produce a metallic flavor).
  • Put the ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shake.

Set Aside for 1-3 Hours:

Set the vinaigrette on the counter for 1-3 hours so the flavors meld.  Don’t refrigerate during this time.  Enjoy!


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