This is the simplest (and best) balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It only requires a few basic ingredients and takes less than two minutes to make!
Why Make Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette?
The real question is: Why NOT? It takes less than two minutes to make and it uses simple ingredients that most have on hand at any given time. Fresh is always best when it comes to dressings. You won’t be sorry that you took an extra minute or so to make this dressing instead of opting for a store-bought balsamic dressing that has been in your fridge for six months. There is no comparison.
Balsamic Vinegar vs Balsamic Vinaigrette
Is balsamic vinegar and balsamic vinaigrette the same thing? In a word: No. Balsamic vinegar is an ingredient used to make balsamic vinaigrette. It is has a robust flavor and can be overpowering if put directly on a salad on its own. A balsamic vinaigrette is more balanced and is more pleasing on a salad. The balsamic vinegar is combined with olive oil and creates a light vinaigrette dressing that is more palatable.
Ratio of Olive Oil to Balsamic Vinegar
The typical ratio of oil to vinegar in a vinaigrette is two parts oil to one part vinegar. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. It is merely a guideline. If you want a richer, stronger vinaigrette, you can go heavier on the balsamic vinegar. If you like a more mild dressing, cut back on the vinegar. Adjust the ratios to your liking and enjoy!
Ingredients in Balsamic Vinaigrette
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – The main base of the dressing. Try to get a good-quality olive oil for this recipe. Your dressing will only turn out as good as the olive oil you use. More on this below.
Balsamic Vinegar – This is what gives your vinaigrette all the rich, complex flavor. You also want a good quality vinegar for your dressing.
Honey – Honey is completely optional. Balsamic vinaigrette on its own is not a sweet dressing so honey can help balance out that flavor if you prefer.
Dijon Mustard or Dry Mustard – This is added not so much for the flavor but to help with the dressing separating. You don’t need much, just a half teaspoon or so.
Garlic – Also optional. I love garlic but more than a clove can be too overpowering in a salad dressing.
Salt and Pepper
Which Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Best?
OK, this is kind of a trick question and it’s not an easy one to answer. I’m sure I could write an entire post dedicated exclusively to olive oils. The simple answer is: the one you like best. If you don’t know what kind of EVOO you like, this is where it can get complicated. To try to keep this simple, usually for salads, people like a more robust flavor. Ninety-nine out of one hundred times I will tell you imported ingredients from Italy are your best bet. Including extra virgin olive oil. However, when it comes to EVOO for salad dressings, I actually prefer olive oil made with 100% California olives. Because California is a drier climate than Italy, you will get a richer flavor.
Another thing to note: the higher quality your olive oil, the more likely it is to solidify in the refrigerator. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you will just have to bring it to room temperature before serving after storing. More on this below.
Which Balsamic Vinegar is Best?
This also depends on your preference. I always buy balsamic vinaigrette with the D.O.P. (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta or Protected Designation of Origin) label from Italy. That way I know it is the best of the best. This is like Italy’s highest stamp of approval so you can rest assured you are getting a high quality vinegar. Balsamic vinegars can have varying notes of fruitiness so try a few before you decide which you like best.
Mixing in a Blender vs Shaking In a Jar
For this recipe you can really go either way. Blending in a blender or food processor will emulsify the oil better, but shaking is also effective. The problem with a blender is that is it one more thing to clean. Being a person who hates dishes, I usually just opt for putting it all in a jar and shaking vigorously. Either way, whether I blend or shake, I like to store my balsamic vinaigrette in a jar so I can give it a quick shake before serving.
Keep Your Vinaigrette from Separating
If your balsamic dressing sits for too long, it is bound to separate. The mustard or mustard powder in the recipe will help slow the separating process but doesn’t eliminate it altogether. Emulsifying your dressing in the blender will also help so it doesn’t separate as quickly. So what is the best solution? As mentioned above, simply store it in a jar and give it a shake every time before dressing your salads.
How to Store Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
The best way to store homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing is by keeping it in an airtight jar. You can buy fancy dressing jars but a basic canning jar with a lid works great. You can store your dressing in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Give it a good shake before serving.
Why Did My Homemade Vinaigrette Solidify?
If you stored your balsamic vinaigrette in the fridge, you may have noticed that the oil has solidified. This actually isn’t a bad thing. It means that you used a high-quality olive oil. Simply allow the dressing to come to room temperature and give it a shake. That’s all it needs. If you really don’t want to deal with your vinaigrette solidifying, only make enough dressing to last the meal. That way you can avoid storing altogether. This recipe is really easy to adjust down to just a few servings if needed. It takes less than a couple minutes to make so you can totally just make it on an as-needed basis.
Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1 Pint (or quart) size canning jar
- Combine all ingredients in a glass canning jar.
- Place lid on tightly and shake vigorously for 30 seconds or until emulsified.
- Serve immediately over salad or fresh vegetables.
- Note: Alternatively you can whisk all the ingredients in a bowl or blend together in a blender and then place in a jar.