Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Skip the bottled dressings — balsamic vinaigrette is easy to make at home! A few pantry ingredients combine to make this simple, classic dressing.

When you have salads for lunch as often as I do, you’ve gotta have plenty of salad dressing on hand.

Depending on my mood, I might go for homemade ranch dressing, green goddess dressing, or creamy garlic dressing.

But when I want to keep things simple (or need to whip up just enough dressing for myself) I turn to balsamic vinaigrette.

Bottle of homemade balsamic vinaigrette in front of a salad.

Balsamic vinaigrette is quick and easy to make at home, and you can easily halve or double the recipe depending on your needs.

Plus, with homemade dressing you can make it just how you like! A definite win in my book.

Ingredients for balsamic vinaigrette dressing

You might already have all the ingredients on hand for making this easy dressing!

Ingredients for balsamic vinaigrette on a tile surface with labels.

Balsamic vinegar – Use a good balsamic vinegar, but not one that is incredibly thick. 

There are many flavored balsamic vinegars available, so feel free to try one of those options when making this dressing! One of my favorites is Cardenas Huckleberry, which is tart and tangy.

Olive oil – There are many different varieties of olive oil out there. When it comes to making dressings, you can use a more rich and flavorful kind, or use the same olive oil you might use for cooking.

I like the olive oils at Costco, as well as California Olive Ranch brand.

Maple syrup – Use pure maple syrup, not imitation flavored syrup. 

Shallot – A shallot is a variety of onion that has a flavor in between red onion and garlic. It’s excellent for using in dressings, soups, and sautes.

Dijon mustard – Mustard is a classic dressing ingredient. Use your favorite variety of dijon; both smooth and whole grain will work.

Salt and pepper – Dressing is seasoned to taste, so add a small amount and adjust as needed.

How to make balsamic vinaigrette

To make balsamic dressing, first chop or grate your shallot.

In a large liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the balsamic, maple syrup, shallot, dijon mustard, and half the salt and pepper.

Pour in the olive oil slowly, whisking as you pour.

Keep whisking until the dressing is well blended and emulsified, making it thick.

Whisking balsamic vinaigrette in a liquid measuring cup.

Whisk in more salt and pepper to taste.

That’s it! Transfer the dressing to a cruet or serve immediately over your favorite salads.

Pouring balsamic vinaigrette onto a green salad.

Recipe substitutions

If needed, you can swap out ingredients when making this dressing.

No olive oil? Swap in avocado oil or walnut oil. You can also use vegetable oil, but it will not have the depth of flavor other oils have.

White balsamic vinegar is a nice replacement for classic balsamic. 

In place of maple syrup, you can use honey, date syrup, or agave nectar.

Don’t have or don’t like shallot? You can use minced garlic instead, or leave it out.

Any mustard can be used in place of the Dijon, but keep in mind that the flavor can affect the final dressing. 

You can also blend in fresh fruit, like in my blueberry vinaigrette recipe!

Overhead of salad with balsamic vinaigrette on it.

FAQ

Why did my dressing separate?

Oil and vinegar create what is called a temporary emulsion. This means there is nothing holding the oil and liquid together, but they join together temporarily with rapid movement like whisking.

Mustard, pepper, and spices can help prevent separation, but just give it a good shake again when ready to serve.

My balsamic vinaigrette is too thick

Did you accidentally use balsamic glaze instead of vinegar? You can thin it out with a little bit of water until you get the right consistency.

Why did my dressing get solid?

If you are using a quality olive oil and storing your dressing in the refrigerator, chances are the olive oil will harden when chilled.

Let the dressing come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before using. The olive oil will melt again so that you can re-mix it into the dressing.

You can also warm the dressing for 20-30 seconds in the microwave, just until the oil is melted.

Fork holding salad and crouton.

Storage tips

Balsamic vinaigrette is best immediately after making, but you’ll likely have leftover dressing on hand.

To store, keep it in a dressing cruet, mason jar with lid, or another reusable, lidded container.

Use the dressing within 4 days. 

Bottle of homemade balsamic vinaigrette in front of a salad.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Pantry ingredients combine to make this simple, classic balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Makes about ¾ cup.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Condiments
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8
Calories 129 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions

  • In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, shallot, mustard, and half the salt and pepper.
  • Pour in the olive oil, whisking while pouring. Keep whisking until dressing is emulsified and thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or chill and use within 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 2 tablespoonsCalories: 129 kcalCarbohydrates: 2 gProtein: 0.1 gFat: 14 gSaturated Fat: 2 gSodium: 154 mgPotassium: 14 mgFiber: 0.1 gSugar: 2 gIron: 0.2 mg
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