I’m sure I’m not the only one who is ready to see this winter come to an end! One thing I will be sad to say “see you later” to (besides the cold and snow!) is citrus fruits, which is why I’m soaking up every last bit of delicious citrus flavor before we transition to warmer weather fruits. I’ve been making this Citrus Vinaigrette Recipe lately, and while it tastes great on just about any salad, it also makes for a tasty marinade for about any kind of meat.
I know it’s super easy to find a salad dressing or vinaigrette in about any flavor you could want on grocery store shelves, but I’m firmly on the “make it myself” team when it comes to salad dressing. It’s not hard to do, requires no fancy equipment, and can be whipped up in less than 5 minutes if you’re making a very basic vinaigrette.
Dressing vs. Vinaigrette
Before I go any further, I want to clear up the difference between dressing and vinaigrette. These terms aren’t exactly interchangeable, however, it’s easy to get them confused. Salad “dressing” is the umbrella term that refers to any mixture used to “dress”, drizzle over or toss with your salad. So, it’s never wrong to say “salad dressing”. Even if you’ve technically made a “vinaigrette”, you can call it a dressing and that’s okay.
Vinaigrette is a type of salad dressing with a few distinct characteristics. A vinaigrette will always be based on an oil mixed with vinegar or other acidic liquid (such as lemon or lime juice). Beyond those two components, a vinaigrette can be very simple, with the addition of just salt and pepper, or more complicated with the addition of herbs, mustard, garlic, chopped or pureed vegetables, or whatever else you feel like adding.
Vinaigrettes are typically brighter and tangier in flavor and have a thinner consistency than what most people think of as “salad dressing”, although that doesn’t mean vinaigrettes are thin and lifeless. Vinaigrettes can be thick and creamy as well – it all depends on the ingredients and how much of each is used.
Let’s Get Cooking
Now that I’ve explained how simple a vinaigrette can really be, let me tell you more about the main ingredients and amounts to use so you can start making your own delicious vinaigrettes without having to rely on a recipe. Sound hard? Trust me, it’s not!
- Oil – use a quality oil that has good natural flavor. My favorites are extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and toasted sesame oil.
- Vinegar, citrus juice, or another acidic fruit or vegetable juice – again, go for the freshest, highest quality ingredients here to get the best flavor
- Flavor Additions – fresh or roasted garlic, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, ground spices, finely shredded citrus zest, grated fresh ginger, coconut aminos, honey or pure maple syrup
- Finely Chopped Vegetables – shallots, onion, green onions, dried tomatoes, roasted red pepper
- Seeds – toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, celery seeds, mustard seeds
Ask three people what amounts are best to use for a vinaigrette and you’ll likely get three different answers. The real answer actually depends on your own flavor and consistency preferences, so the right answer is really up to you! Here’s what I mean:
- Thicker, Less Tangy Vinaigrette = 3 parts Oil to 1 part Vinegar
- Medium Thickness, Moderately Tangy Vinaigrette = 2 parts Oil to 1 part Vinegar
- Thinner, More Tangy Vinaigrette = 1 part Oil to 1 part Vinegar
Once you measure the essential ingredients (the oil and vinegar), you can play around with the amounts of the “optional ingredients”, depending on your flavor preferences. To give you a starting point, here’s an example based on a final yield of about ¾ cup vinaigrette:
½ cup oil
¼ cup vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon finely chopped dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
This example recipe uses 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, which is the middle of the road when it comes to thickness and tanginess. If you want it thicker and less tangy, you would use ¾ cup oil and ¼ cup vinegar. Or, if you want it thinner and more tangy, you would use ¼ cup oil and ¼ cup vinegar. Does that make sense?
Please let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below the recipe. Or, if you have a favorite vinaigrette that you love making at home, let me know that too!
Vinaigrette salad dressings are super easy and quick to make at home. Now that you know the general “rules” (which you can adjust to your preferences!) for making a good vinaigrette, you will be able to confidently make your own at home too! Or, if you’re not feeling quite ready to branch out and create your own, try the Citrus Vinaigrette Recipe below, or this Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Citrus Vinaigrette Recipe How-To Photos:
Citrus Vinaigrette Recipe
- 1 medium orange
- 1 medium lemon
- 1 medium lime
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon coarse mustard
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 to 2 teaspoons honey (optional)
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Juice the orange, lemon, and lime. In a medium screw-top jar combine citrus juices, oil, chives, mustard, and salt. Cover; shake well. Taste and add honey if desired. If desired, add ginger and/or black pepper. Cover and shake well after adding any ingredients.
- Store vinaigrette in the covered jar in the refrigerator up to 1 week.