Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette is an easy way to make a restaurant-quality salad at home. A classic emulsion of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, aromatics, herbs, and spices, this rich, tangy-sweet dressing won’t quickly separate.
This recipe is part of our homemade salad dressings series. For more of our favorites, including Buttermilk Blue Cheese and Russian dressings, check out our Salad Dressing Collection page.
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Balsamic Vinaigrette has always been one of my favorite salad dressings. It’s rich without feeling heavy, and pairs particularly well with spinach salad and spring greens.
It’s also a cinch to make at home. You can have a jar of this restaurant-quality vinaigrette ready in about 10 minutes, with no preservatives or additives. It doesn’t take much more work than buying a jar from the store, and the flavor can’t be beat.
What You’ll Need to Make Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Balsamic Vinegar. For a vinaigrette with the best complexity, I recommend using an aged balsamic from Modena, Italy. My “go-to” bottle in my pantry is Olivier’s VSOP 25-Year Barrel-Aged Balsamic from Williams-Sonoma.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Bottles of EVOO can vary significantly in flavor. Some are more fruity than peppery, while others pack an intense bite. I like to use a bottle with medium pungency that isn’t too bitter. This gives the vinaigrette a fruity flavor with peppery notes in the background.
- Dijon Mustard. Works as an emulsifier in the vinaigrette, helping the oil and vinegar to bind with minimal separation.
- Honey. Also helps to stabilize the dressing and adds a touch of sweetness to balance the acidity. The amount of honey needed will depend on the balsamic vinegar you’ve used.
- Garlic and Shallot. Both should be minced finely to blend into the dressing easily.
- Dried Italian Herbs, Salt, and Pepper. I use the Italian Herb Blend from Savory Spice Shop (a mixture of thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, and rosemary), with kosher or fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper.
I like to make my balsamic vinaigrette with a classic ratio of 1/4 to 1/3 cup of vinegar to 3/4 cup of olive oil. Adjust the quantity of balsamic within that range, depending on the flavor profile of the bottle you’re using, and your personal tastes.
Two Ways to Make This Vinaigrette
This vinaigrette is a cinch to make with either a classic whisking method or by shaking the ingredients together in a lidded jar.
I find that vinaigrette made with the classic whisking method remains stable a bit longer without separating. If the oil and vinegar start to separate with time following either method, re-whisk or shake before serving to re-emulsify.
To make the dressing with a whisk:
Start by choosing a bowl or jar wide and deep enough to whisk in without spillover. Combine the balsamic vinegar, shallot, garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, and seasonings.
While whisking, drizzle the olive oil into the balsamic mixture in a slow and steady stream. The mixture will thicken and emulsify into a velvety dressing as the vinegar and oil bind together.
Tip: If you want to soften the pungency of the raw garlic’s flavor, let the minced clove sit in the vinegar for about 10 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients and emulsifying the dressing.
To make shaken vinaigrette:
Simply add all of the ingredients to a mason jar or glass storage jar, cover it tightly with the lid, and shake vigorously until combined.
Balsamic Vinaigrette Questions
Q. How long can I keep this balsamic dressing?
The dressing will thicken a bit with refrigeration. I like to take it out and let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, giving it a quick whisk or shake before serving.
Q. Help! My vinaigrette is too thick, or the flavor has too much “bite.”
A. The consistency and flavor of the balsamic vinaigrette can vary by the bottles of oil and vinegar you’ve used. If you need to thin the dressing or soften the flavor, resist the temptation to add extra oil. Instead, try whisking in a splash of warm water (up to a tablespoon).
Q. Can I use flavored balsamic vinegar to make this dressing?
A. Absolutely! Depending on the season, I’ve made this vinaigrette with Fig Dark Balsamic, Raspberry Dark Balsamic, and Red Apple Dark Balsamic. Keep in mind that some of the fruitier balsamic vinegars might be sweeter than traditional. If you’re using them, adjust the amount of honey accordingly.
Q. Can I use balsamic vinaigrette to marinate chicken?
A. Technically, yes, but I prefer the ratios of oil, vinegar, and seasonings in my Balsamic Chicken Marinade. With a 50/50 proportion of olive oil to balsamic vinegar in the marinade recipe, I find that the higher acidity gives better flavor to the meat.
More Recipes Using Balsamic Vinegar
- Fig Salad with Goat Cheese and Baby Arugula
- Blue Cheese Crusted Steak with Balsamic Shallots
- Mixed Citrus Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad
- Balsamic-Roasted Strawberry Baked Brie
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar (see note)
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 medium garlic clove , minced (about 1/2 to 3/4 tsp)
- 1 teaspoon honey (additional, if needed, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- In a bowl or jar, whisk together balsamic vinegar, shallot, garlic, honey, Dijon mustard, dried herbs, salt, and pepper.
- While whisking, drizzle oil into the mixture into a slow and steady stream. The dressing will emulsify and become smooth and glossy. (Alternately, add all ingredients to a mason jar, seal the lid tightly, and shake until emulsified.)
- Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
- Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving. Shake or re-whisk if the vinaigrette starts to separate with storage.