Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: Homemade balsamic vinaigrette is easy to make, budget-friendly, and so much tastier than store-bought!

How long it takes: 5 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: a small jar, or bowl and whisk
Servings: 6 (makes ¾ cup)

Overhead view of two different types of balsamic vinaigrette.
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Balsamic vinaigrette goes with almost type of salad, from fruity grilled peach salad with burrata to savory salads like chopped Greek salad or warm kale salad with roasted root vegetables. This does-it-all appeal makes it my back pocket salad dressing recipe. When I’m tossing together a green salad to have with dinner, I’m usually also whipping up this vinaigrette or a variation of it.

While some salad dressings are decidedly either sweet or savory, balsamic vinaigrette straddles both, with a subtle sweetness that’s not cloying, and savory flavor from the garlic. There’s also a little zip from the Dijon mustard (which also helps emulsify the vinaigrette) and, of course, tanginess from the vinegar—but not quite as much as other vinegars since balsamic tends to be pretty sweet. Everything comes together with perfect balance!

If you love balsamic vinegar, be sure to try my balsamic chicken marinade and homemade balsamic reduction (use it as a glaze or syrup).

Reasons to Love This Balsamic Vinaigrette

Quick and easy. With just a handful of ingredients and a few minutes of prep, you can whip up a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. You don’t have to crowd your fridge with a selection of bottled salad dressings. Simply make your own as you need it.

Better than store-bought. Homemade vinaigrettes are fresher-tasting and more budget-friendly than store-bought dressing, and since you make small batches, there’s less chance you’ll end up throwing half of it out.

Customizable. This vinaigrette recipe is incredibly adaptable. Want it a little sweeter? Add more honey. Prefer a bolder flavor? Increase the mustard or garlic. Tweak it to suit your tastes!

A multipurpose dressing. Balsamic vinaigrette isn’t just for salads! It makes a fantastic marinade for grilled vegetables or chicken. Try my balsamic roasted vegetables, honey balsamic chicken thighs, and sheet pan honey balsamic chicken and vegetables.

Goes with so many salads. I don’t think there’s any dressing more versatile than balsamic vinaigrette! 

Cooking Tip

My favorite tool for making salad dressing is simple: a jar! Shaking vigorously is the best way to emulsify a dressing. Any small jar with a leak-proof lid works well. You don’t have to buy one; recycled jars are perfect!

Ingredient Notes

  • Olive Oil: This is the perfect occasion to use the fancy, fruity olive oil that’s been sitting in your pantry. Good olive oil equals good vinaigrette.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: When it comes to balsamic vinegar, you get what you pay for. Inexpensive varieties tend to be watery and one-note while aged balsamic is thick, syrupy, and balanced in flavor. This is another reason homemade balsamic vinaigrette tastes better; I guarantee that the store-bought dressing is made with inferior vinegar (and probably not much of it!).
  • Honey: You can use sugar or another sweetener instead but I like honey because it also adds another layer of flavor.
  • Dijon Mustard: Peppy Dijon adds a sharp, pungent note to balsamic vinaigrette. You can leave it out if you’re not a fan. I usually use the smooth Dijon but grainy mustard works well, too.
  • Garlic: The acid in the dressing will mellow the bite of the raw garlic.
  • Salt and Pepper: I like a lot of coarsely ground black pepper in this vinaigrette.
Overhead view of ingredients needed for balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

How to make Balsamic Vinaigrette

Combine ingredients. Measure out the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper into a small bowl or a jar with a tight-fitting lid. If you’re using a blender, you can put the ingredients in the blender jar.

Option #1: Mix by hand. Whisk or shake well until the dressing is emulsified (the vinegar and oil are blended together). If you refer to the photos, the vinaigrette will be a darker color.

Option #2: Mix with blender. A small blender works great. Blend on high speed briefly until dressing is light colored and emulsified. The dressing will appear much lighter in color and is a bit thicker than the hand-shaken version but the taste will be the same.

Season to taste. Dip a spoon or fork into the dressing and sample a little bit. If you think it needs it, add a little extra honey, or salt and pepper. You can use the dressing immediately or store to use later. Shake well before serving.

Dressings prepared in two different methods, side by side, showing color difference.

Tips for Making Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Adjust the garlic to your liking. If you prefer a more mild garlic flavor, use a half teaspoon of garlic powder instead of freshly minced garlic. You may also omit the garlic completely if you’re not a fan.
  • Always taste and adjust. The key to a perfect vinaigrette is tasting and adjusting  to your preference. A little extra salt, pepper, or honey can make all the difference.
  • Let chilled vinaigrette sit at room temperature before using. Sometimes the olive oil will turn solid in the fridge if you’re storing the dressing. Don’t worry, it hasn’t gone bad! Just leave the vinaigrette out at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before using. Once the olive oil liquifies, shake well and use. If it’s in a microwave-safe container, you can microwave it for 10 seconds or so.

Flavor Variations

Storage Suggestions

Store balsamic vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to a week. Shake or whisk before using to re-emulsify. If the dressing solidifies, simply bring it to room temperature and shake it well before use.

More Salad Dressing Recipes

Recipe

Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Consider this balsamic vinaigrette recipe your new house dressing. With just a few pantry staple ingredients, this will be your go-to anytime you make a salad!
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Ingredients 

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, or to taste

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl or jar, combine all ingredients (see note for blender instructions).
    ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste, ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, or to taste
  • Whisk or shake well until ingredients are combined.
  • Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, or honey as desired.
  • Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to a week. Before using, shake or whisk the dressing again to re-emulsify any separated ingredients.

Notes

  • Solidification: If the olive oil solidifies in your fridge, leave the vinaigrette out at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before using. Once the olive oil liquifies, shake well and use. If it’s in a microwave safe container, you may also microwave it briefly (about 10 seconds). 
  • Garlic: If you prefer a milder garlic flavor, use ½ teaspoon garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. You may also omit the garlic completely; the dressing has plenty of flavor without it.
  • Blender Directions: If desired, you can also make this dressing in a blender. It will result in a slightly thicker, more emulsified version of the dressing. Both are delicious, it depends on your preference. To make this version, add all ingredients to a small blender; blend until fully combined and dressing is slightly lighter in color.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoons, Calories: 181kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 0.1g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 13g, Sodium: 206mg, Potassium: 18mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1IU, Vitamin C: 0.2mg, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 0.2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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