HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Classic Vinegrette/Vinaigrette?

I make a good vinegrette at home (see below), but I love a great vinaigrette and was wondering how other chowhounders make theirs. Also, how do you spell it? There seem to be a variety of ways!


I usually shop some shallots and mix them with minced garlic (I use a press) in a small mason jar. I add some salt and vinegar, either red wine vinegar or a mixture of red wine and champagne. I shake it up, let it sit a bit, then add some grey poupon or stone ground mustard, lemon juice, cracked black pepper, thyme and/or rosemary and olive oil (I like 3 or 4 to one oil to vinegar). I put on the mason jar top, shake it all up and let it sit until I make the salad.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I like to make my Vinaigrette right in the wooden salad bowl.

    In 2TBS Meyer Lemon juice or Vinegar ( red wine or Balsamic), whisk in 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, 1/2-1 tsp Herbes de Provence, 1/4 tsp freshl;y ground Black pepper, 1-2 tsps Dijon mustard, 1 tsp honey or sugar.

    Whisk in 6 TBS EVOO.

    Whisk in a tsp or two of boiling water. This is a trick Iearned from a Michelin 2 macaron chef in the South of France. The boiling water emulsifies the dressing and prevents it from separating.

    You can prepare the dressing and put your greens on top ahead of time. When you are ready to serve, toss the salad.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Fleur

      Actually, Fleur, it's the Dijon mustard that acts as the emulsifier in a classic vinaigrette. Oil and water, regardless of the temperature, do not emulsify on their own.

      Another ingredient used for its emulsification properties is egg yolk.

      1. re: Fleur

        Delicious! We tried this tonight in a salad of spinach, walnuts, peaches, and sunflower seeds. I used half walnut oil and half olive oil. Thanks for posting your recipe.

      2. I much prefer lemon juice to vinegar, though sometimes I'll use balsamic for a change of pace. I don't have measurements...I keep adding and tasting. I'll use shallots sometimes...ALWAYS garlic. Salt, pepper. A dab of Dijon. Always extra-virgin olive oil. Sometimes I'll add herbs. I tend to like my vinaigrettes less oily than most recipes call for...I tend more toward a 2-1 ratio of oil to acid. It just depends on the day.

        Didn't know about the boiling water trick. I'll have to try that sometime. It doesn't make the dressing too warm?

        1 Reply
        1. re: wyf4lyf

          The boiling water truc really does work. I have never had a problem with warm dressing, but it has been so cold here in NY that wouldn't be a problem.

          I usually serve some kind of salad as a first course. Since I make a Vinaigrette every evening we have dinner at home, I switch around the Vinegar and Oils as well.

          I love using part Walnut Oil in the sauce and adding toasted Walnuts to the salad. Ditto for Hazelnut Oil and Hazelnuts. Both are great with a salad of Mescun, very thinly sliced raw pear, and fresh Goat Cheese. Lately, I have been using Petit Billy from GARDEN of EDEN or MURRAY'S, a beautiful soft fresh chevre from France.

        2. Oh and to answer the OP's question it's "vinaigrette." :)

          1. I think simple is best - 2 tsp white wine vinegar, 5 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp seeded mustard, salt and pepper. This makes a lovely mustardy dressing for "butch" salads with things like chicory, raddicchio etc, but also nice with most other salads. When I want something lighter, I often just squeeze some lemon juice directly over it, add olive oil, salt and pepper and mix it all up.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Theresa

              I have done that more times thaan I can count...just drizzle evoo and lemon juice over my greens, add salt and pepper and mix. Sometimes the more simple, the better.

            2. Just to toss in another variation, my diet vinaigrette is 2 T orange juice, 1 T red wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 1/2 T olive oil. I should try adding some mustard and some other seasonings.

              1. 1 Tablespoon honey mustard, 3 T olive oil, 2-3 T balsamic vinegar, 1/2 t salt
                Mix in bottom of salad bowl , add salad and toss

                1 Reply
                1. re: eimac

                  I also love to use the Honey Mustard ( I use Silver Palate brand from FAIRWAY ). Or you could add Dijon Mustard and a tsp of honey.

                2. I'm glad to know I'm not alone in the mason-jar shake method. Call me whisk-averse, but the mason jar makes it a pleasure (good way to get out post-work aggressions, too). Similar to many above, I use olive oil, 2 vinegars (red wine + balsamic), mustard (in addition to adding flavor, it keeps the oil & vinegar from separating), S&P, and either crushed garlic or snipped chives (or scallions).
                  It's so easy & so good that I find I'm now often disappointed with restaurant dressings (and really turned off by bottled ones).

                  1. 3:1 oil to vinegar ratio, and you can't go wrong. I like evoo, balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of dijon. You can't beat it.

                    1. I love rice wine vinegar. Here's mine, no measurements, just taste:
                      Rice wine vinegar
                      Fresh garlic

                      It's great! I love it with romain, walnuts, raisins and either strawberries or mandarin oranges. You can also add a salty cheese of your choice. Salad perfection.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: geg5150

                        That's mine too. I moved to rice vinegar as my most common vinegar for dressings about a year ago and absolutely love it. I do some times mix it with a touch of lemon juice, and sometimes some Dijon mustard. I find vinaigrette with rice vinegar has a wonderfully light flavor that really lets the other parts of the salad shine.

                      2. (1) Dijon mustard (smooth not grainy), white wine vinegar, vegetable oil and salt/pepper for a classic vinaigrette. You can add your herb of choice of you like, but is also delicious as-is. This is great on a classic mixed green salad, and is the closest I've found to what I was served all over France.

                        (2) Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt/pepper, whisked in a bowl that has been rubbed with garlic. This is good on heartier greens, like arugula or spinach.

                        (3) Dijon mustard, seasoned rice wine vinegar, vegetable oil, dill, salt/pepper. This is GREAT on a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, green onion, avocado and hearts of palm.

                        I make my dressing in a small bowl, starting with the mustard and a little salt, then whisk in the vinegar, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking all the while to incorporate and emulsify. I usually start with around a teaspoon of mustard, 1-2 T. of vinegar, then add oil to taste (with the tarter vinegars, its around a 3 or 4 to 1 ratio, with the rice vinegar, it's more like a 2 to 1 ratio).

                        A restaurant near me in Los Angeles makes a vinaigrette with creme fraiche -- and it's delicious! Does anyone have a recipe for a creme fraiche vinaigrette?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DanaB

                          i think you could probably modify Bittman's recipe for creamy vinaigrette in How to Cook Everything (shallot, s&p, dijon mustard, 1/2 c olive oil, 1/4 c white wine vinegar, 1/4 c heavy cream) by using creme fraiche-- sounds delicious to me.
                          I LOVE this dressing.

                        2. Thanks for all the suggestions and variations! Much appreciated, I will enjoy trying them all. I have a simple salad with vinaigrette almost every night.

                          1. OK..don't yell at me but I add about a quarter teaspoon of MSG? WHy? I'm trying to duplicate my favorite salad dressing, Girard's champagne dressing. People rave about the salads I use it with. The dressing does not have a vinegar bite, and its not oily either. It make every salad taste delicious with only a modest does of dressing. You can barely perceive the oil. The greens just taste wonderful without the dressing dominating the flavor. Reading the label, I see they add MSG and tamarind.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Rhee

                              Rhee, would you please post your recipe, msg and all. According to this article by Fuchsia Dunlop in today's NYTimes, msg may be getting a bum rap: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/18/opi.... I'll post the link on the General Topics board too.

                              1. re: efdee

                                Hello Efdee,

                                I don't have a recipe. I make my salad dressings without measuring. But I use about a 2:1 ratio of salt:MSG, going light on the salt, then tasting when everything is mixed together. I start with chopped shallots, soak in some kind of vinegar, then add the salt, MSG, oil, other liquids like perhaps meyer lemon juice, and sometimes dijon mustard and other spices like tarragon. I only lke the Girard's champagne dressing. I agree with the other poster that the other Girard flavors are not worth buying.

                              2. re: Rhee

                                I'm glad to see there is another Girard;s fan out there. I still amke my own sometimes, but on really busy nights or if I am the only one having a salad, I will use this bottled dressing. I had a brunch with about 40 guests recently and cheated using it as the dressing on the salad (with mixed greens, chopped dates, goat cheese, oranges & cherry tomatoes) and had several people ask what was on the salad. I've tried some of their other dressings and haven't been as impressed.

                              3. i like to make mine with evoo, balsamic, some kind of citrus juice (usually grapefruit or lemon, but sometimes blood orange or regular orange), and salt. it's really tasty with beets.

                                1. I like to let some chopped shallots sit in the vinegar for about 15 minutes or so before mixing up a simple vinaigrette w/ S&P, dijon mustard and olive oil. The shallots add a good flavor and the vinegar soak seems to mellow them.

                                  1. Recently i have been making the following:

                                    Using a food processor:
                                    -one drained tin of anchovies
                                    -a couple of shallots
                                    -a clove or two of garlic
                                    -juice of 1 large lemon
                                    -2-4 grinds of fresh pepper

                                    Pulse to a paste.

                                    Add a steady stream of extra virgin olive oil while the blade spins.

                                    I toss greens with a couple of TBS of this emulsion.

                                    Odd as it sounds, everyone, including my daughters (9 and 13) like this very much.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: GrumpyDad

                                      This sounds terrific - kind of a 'simpified' Caesar dressing. Thanks!

                                    2. My vinaigrettes vary on what's in my pantry. Lately I'm a total walnut oil and with fresh lemon juice convert (with a little smashed garlic and salt and pepper). But I do love to use a variety of oils and vinegars, I have a big, bold and fruity olive oil at the moment that is fantastic with rice wine vinegar, or a little balsamic and citrus (with garlic, mustard). I used to swear by olive oil, sherry vinegar, whole mustard seeds, a little powdered English mustard and garlic. I'm not a big fan of red or white wine vinegars, the ones I've bought in the past have been a little too bold and single noted in their acidity.

                                      1. Someone a couple of Christmases ago gave me a patented doodad that consists of a smallish carafe with gears in the stopper, a crank on top and a long stem with a triangular plastic loop at the end down inside, close to the bottom of the jar. A vinaigrette maker, of course. It has three or four different recipes printed on it, only one of which I've ever bothered to follow for the hell of it, but while it takes the romance (such as it is) out of vinaigrette-making, it also leaves me having to clean up just one thing, and I can keep made dressing in the fridge for a while. I just eyeball in my ingredients and start cranking - works like a charm. However, when I'm making Julia's French potato salad (Pommes de Terre à la Huile), I get out the bowl and the whisk. Some things simply must be done properly...