How To Make French Vinaigrette - Pardon Your French

How to make Basic French Salad Dressing

Certainly! Basic French salad dressing, often referred to as “vinaigrette,” is a classic and simple condiment that typically consists of a mixture of oil, vinegar, mustard, and seasonings such as salt and pepper. It’s known for its tangy flavor and is used to dress green salads, vegetables, and other cold dishes.

The standard ratio for a basic French dressing is three parts oil to one part vinegar. This gives a balanced combination of fat and acidity that can be adjusted to taste. Olive oil is frequently the oil of choice for its rich flavor, but other oils like canola or sunflower oil can be used for a milder taste. Vinegar options vary from red wine vinegar, which is traditional, to balsamic, cider, or even white wine vinegar, depending on the desired flavor profile.

Dijon mustard is a common emulsifier in French dressing. It helps to bind the oil and vinegar together to prevent them from separating. In addition to providing stability, it adds a spicy depth to the flavor.

For seasoning, salt and freshly ground black pepper are staples, but garlic, shallots, or herbs like parsley, tarragon, or chives are often added to create different variations and enhance the overall taste.

French dressing is beloved for its versatility and ease of preparation, making it a staple in many kitchens. It’s perfect for quickly tossing with fresh greens or as a marinade for proteins before cooking. The best part about French dressing is that it can be customized to suit individual tastes and complement a wide variety of dishes.

Basic French Salad Dressing Recipe

How To Make French Vinaigrette - Pardon Your French

Basic French Salad Dressing

Basic French salad dressing, commonly known as vinaigrette, is a fundamental and versatile condiment composed of oil, vinegar, mustard, and seasonings like salt and pepper. The classic ratio for the mixture is three parts oil to one part vinegar, creating a harmonious balance of fat and acidity that can be adjusted according to personal taste preferences.
Olive oil is often chosen for its rich flavor, but milder oils can be used for a more subdued taste. Vinegars can range from red wine vinegar, which is traditional, to others such as balsamic or cider vinegar, depending on the desired flavor profile. Dijon mustard acts as an emulsifier to keep the oil and vinegar from separating and adds a spicy depth. Seasonings are customizable, with many opting to include garlic, shallots, or herbs to diversify the dressing's flavor.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine French
Servings 1 serving
Calories 378 kcal


  • 1 medium mixing bowl


  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper


  • Combine all the ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl and whisk well. Taste and make adjustment as needed.
  • Serve dressing immediately with salad of choice, store any leftover in an air tight container and keep in the fridge, use within 7 days
Keyword kosher salt, olive oil, vinegar

Cooking Tips about Basic French Salad Dressing

French Salad Dressing (French Vinaigrette) | RecipeTin Eats

  • Get the ratio right: Start with the classic 3-to-1 ratio of oil to vinegar, which provides a nice balance of richness to tanginess. Adjust according to your taste preferences; add more vinegar for a sharper dressing or more oil for a milder one.
  • Choose quality ingredients: Since there are few ingredients in a French dressing, each one stands out. Use high-quality oils and vinegars for the best flavor.
  • Whisk to emulsify: Make sure to whisk vigorously when combining the oil and vinegar so that they emulsify and don’t separate. Dijon mustard can help to stabilize the emulsion.
  • Flavor with finesse: Add minced garlic or shallots and fresh or dried herbs for additional flavor complexity. Remember, a little goes a long way.
  • Season perfectly: Don’t forget salt and freshly ground black pepper. They’re fundamental to bringing out the flavors in the dressing.
  • Sweetness to taste: If you like a slightly sweeter dressing, consider adding a touch of honey or sugar.
  • Acid variations: Feel free to experiment with different types of vinegar – each one brings its unique flavor. Citrus juices like lemon or lime can also be used partly or wholly in place of vinegar.
  • Infuse flavors: Let the dressing sit for a while before serving to allow the flavors of the herbs, garlic, and shallots to infuse into the liquid.
  • Storage and usage: Store the vinaigrette in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator; just remember to bring it to room temperature and give it a good shake before using.
  • Freshness counts: Freshly made dressing is always best, but you can usually keep homemade vinaigrette for several days to a week in the refrigerator.

Serving suggestions about Basic French Salad Dressing

Classic French Vinaigrette Recipe

  • Leafy Greens: Drizzle your vinaigrette over mixed leafy greens for a simple and quick salad. It’s particularly good with bitter greens like arugula or frisée, as the tangy dressing balances their flavors.
  • Crudités: Use the French dressing as a light and flavorful dip for an array of raw vegetables, such as carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, and bell pepper strips.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Toss grilled vegetables, like asparagus, zucchini, or bell peppers, in Basic French Salad Dressing while they’re still warm to help them soak up all that delicious flavor.
  • Marinade: The acid component makes it a fantastic marinade for chicken, fish, or even tofu. Let your protein absorb the dressing for a few hours before cooking for a juicy and flavorful result.
  • Pasta Salad: Combine it with cold pasta, fresh veggies, and perhaps some feta or mozzarella cheese for a refreshing pasta salad perfect for picnics and barbecues.
  • Potato Salad: Give your potato salad a French twist by using this dressing instead of the standard mayonnaise-based one. Add some chopped herbs like dill or tarragon to elevate it further.
  • Sandwich Spread: Spread a thin layer of French dressing on bread for an extra zing in your sandwiches; this works especially well with deli meats or roasted vegetables.
  • Bean Salad: For a protein-rich side dish, mix cooked beans (like kidney or garbanzo) with diced onions, parsley, and French dressing. It tastes even better after marinating in the fridge for a bit.
  • Savory Grain Bowls: Spoon the dressing over a grain bowl filled with quinoa, rice, or barley, and top with your choice of add-ins, such as avocado, nuts, seeds, or dried fruits.
  • Roasted Nuts: Toss some almonds, walnuts, or pecans with a bit of dressing before roasting them for a tasty and tangy snack.

Top 5 FAQs about Basic French Salad Dressing

Vinaigrette - Once Upon a Chef

  • What is the classic ratio for a Basic French Salad Dressing? The traditional ratio for a basic French vinaigrette is three parts oil to one part vinegar. This creates a balance between the rich, mouth-coating texture of the oil and the sharpness of the vinegar, which can be adjusted according to personal taste preferences.
  • Can I substitute different oils or vinegars in the dressing? Absolutely! While olive oil and red wine vinegar are traditional choices, you can use other oils like avocado, grapeseed, or sunflower for a different taste profile. Similarly, you can use balsamic, apple cider, or white wine vinegar in place of red wine vinegar to change up the flavor.
  • How do I achieve a properly emulsified dressing that doesn’t separate? To ensure that your oil and vinegar emulsify and don’t separate, use a vigorous whisking technique or shake the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Mustard is an excellent emulsifier that helps keep the mixture stable, so including a small amount of Dijon mustard can be very effective.
  • How long does homemade French dressing last and how should it be stored? Homemade French dressing can typically be stored in the refrigerator for several days to a week when kept in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. It’s essential to bring the dressing to room temperature and give it a good shake or whisk before serving to re-emulsify the ingredients.
  • What are some ways to add more flavor to Basic French Salad Dressing? For added flavor complexity, include minced garlic or shallots and fresh or dried herbs of your choice such as tarragon, dill, or basil. You can also experiment with adding a small amount of honey or sugar for a touch of sweetness or a different type of mustard for a unique twist.

In conclusion, Basic French Salad Dressing is an essential and timeless condiment that has a prominent place in both everyday home cooking and refined culinary practices. Its blend of oil and vinegar complemented by mustard and seasonings creates a multipurpose dressing that can enhance a myriad of dishes. With its simple yet elegant taste profile, it marks the perfect balance between acidity and richness, making it a universally appreciated addition to salads and beyond.

The classic 3-to-1 ratio of oil to vinegar forms the foundation of this vinaigrette, but its versatility allows for endless variations tailored to individual preferences. High-quality ingredients imbue the dressing with superior flavor, and the incorporation of aromatics like garlic and herbs only further cements its status as a quintessential element of French cuisine.


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