Easy Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

$1.38 recipe / $0.23 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.34 from 3 votes
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If you haven’t noticed, I make this Easy Homemade Vinaigrette with a lot of my salad recipes. It’s pretty much my go-to when I’m not making a lemon tahini dressing. But anyway, it’s so simple, so versatile, and has so many options for tweaking, that I thought I’d give the recipe its own post. Commit this recipe to memory, because it will serve you well.

A small white bowl of homemade balsamic vinaigrette with a spoon in it and spinach, garlic, and dried basil on the side

Is Balsamic Vinegar the Same as Balsamic Vinaigrette?

First things first, balsamic vinegar is not the same as balsamic vinaigrette, a point which confuses a lot of new cooks. Balsamic vinegar is one ingredient in balsamic vinaigrette. A vinaigrette is simply an oil and vinegar based salad dressing. So now that we have that cleared up, let’s move on…

How Long Does it Stay Good?

Since this homemade dressing does not contain stabilizers and preservatives, you should only keep it refrigerated for about four to five days. The fresh garlic and dried herbs contain natural yeasts and molds that can cause spoilage. Because of this, I’ve made this recipe for a fairly small, 3/4 cup sized batch so you hopefully won’t have much leftover or going to waste.

What Do You Serve it With?

As I mentioned above, I use this salad dressing all the time and I sometimes make variations on this basic recipe. Here are some recipes where I’ve used this delicious balsamic vinaigrette in the past: BIG Kale Pasta Salad, Autumn Kale and Apple Salad, Tomato Mozzarella Pasta Salad, Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad, and Spinach and Orzo Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Customize Your Balsamic Vinaigrette:

Here are a few options for customizing your balsamic vinaigrette:

  • Skip the mayo, this will create a thinner, lighter balsamic vinaigrette
  • Add grated Parmesan
  • Use minced shallots instead of minced garlic for a milder flavor
  • Add a touch of honey for a sweeter vinaigrette
  • Use fresh herbs if you have them. Oregano also goes well with this dressing
  • Add Roasted Garlic for a mellow-sweet garlic flavor

Don’t Skip the Dijon!

People always ask if they have to use Dijon mustard in my dressing recipes because they don’t like the flavor of Dijon. Dijon mustard plays a very important role in vinaigrettes. Dijon has the unique molecular quality of being an emulsifier, which means it can bond to both water and oil. This is what keeps your dressing mixed instead of it immediately separating after stirring. And don’t worry, the amount is so small that you can’t taste that Dijon flavor!

Finished homemade balsamic vinaigrette on a spoon over the mouth of the mason jar

Try these other homemade dressing recipes:

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Easy Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

4.34 from 3 votes
This super simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette is perfect for all your green salads and pasta salads and has several options for customizing!
A spoon lifting some homemade balsamic vinaigrette out of a small bowl
Servings 6 2 Tbsp each
Prep 5 mins
Total 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil ($0.55)
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar ($0.41)
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise ($0.17)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard ($0.09)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.08)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.01)
  • freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)

Instructions 

  • Add all the ingredients to a jar, bowl, or blender. Close the jar and shake, whisk in the bowl, or pulse in a blender until the ingredients are combined and smooth.
  • Let the dressing stand 5-10 minutes for the flavors to blend, then serve or refrigerate for up to 5 days.

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Nutrition

Serving: 2TbspCalories: 148.77kcalCarbohydrates: 1.58gProtein: 0.1gFat: 15.67gSodium: 185.57mgFiber: 0.07g
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

A spoon lifting some homemade balsamic vinaigrette out of a small bowl

How to Make Balsamic Vinaigrette – Step by Step Photos

Colavita balsamic vinegar bottle

Since balsamic vinegar is the main flavor in this salad dressing, you do want to make sure you use one that is decent. Lately I’ve been loving this Colavita balsamic vinegar (not sponsored). It is a mid-range priced balsamic vinegar, but the flavor is really great. 

Balsamic vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar

Add 1/3 cup olive oil, 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp mayonnaise, 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 minced clove of garlic, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/4 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to a jar, bowl, or blender.

finished homemade balsamic vinaigrette in a small bowl with a spoon

Then just close up the jar and shake, whisk if it’s in a bowl, or pulse with the blender until the ingredients are incorporated. Let the dressing sit for five to ten minutes to allow the flavors some time to blend, then serve or refrigerate for up to five days!

Parmesan Balsamic Vinaigrette being poured onto a bowl of Tomato Mozzarella Salad from a jar.

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette shown here with my Tomato Mozzarella Pasta Salad (this version has grated Parmesan added).

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Comments

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  1. I blend in 1 tbsp of oats to thicken the vinaigrette. I find it to be a great alternative to mayo, and a tinny tinny bit of cumin.

  2. Would dairy free yogurt be an ok sub for the Mayo? I don’t buy any form of mayo (vegan or non vegan) because I’ve never been a fan of the taste. 

    1. It’s hard to say since I’ve never worked with dairy-free yogurt, but yogurt, in general, is way more acidic than mayo so that would definitely change the flavor.

  3. This is SO GOOD. I’ve never been much of a salad dressing person, but I found myself with a ton of salad greens needing to be eaten up, and this made them go *so* fast.

    Unfortunately, I had to omit the garlic, since my partner is allergic to it, but it tasted divine nevertheless!

  4. Great recipe, but why only five days? Seems like a waste. Shouldn’t the ingredients last a bit longer or is there something I’m overlooking. 

    1. Dried herbs and spices contain natural spores for yeast, mold, and bacteria which are inactive when dry, but can spring to life once hydrated in the dressing. Fresh garlic, in particular, can grow botulism in oil infusions. And while many microorganisms can’t grow in low pH environments, some can. So while these ingredients may be shelf or refrigerator stable on their own, once combined they need to be used in a timely manner. You may find that you get a slightly longer “shelf life” but for liability reasons I can’t suggest anything longer than 5 days.

      1. I have always wondered where  the 5 day vinaigrette rule came from, but could not find the answer. Thank you!

  5. No joke, this stuff is so good I want to drink it. Works great with vegan mayo for an animal product-free dressing.

  6. Looks great , but, my wife is allergic to mustard . Is there any substitute for the function of the mustard?

    1. I would replace it with more mayonnaise. Mayonnaise contains egg yolk, which also acts as an emulsifier, and it has vinegar, just like mustard. The dressing will be creamier, but that’s not a bad thing. :)

  7. Not bad! A good starting point for salad dressing. She is very correct about needing Dijon mustard. The only thing I added was honey for a rounder taste. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. I love the flavor of this dressing. But when I made it, it got very thick on days 3 and 4. It did come out of the refrigerator…could it be because the oil congealed in the cold? 

    1. Yep, that’s exactly it! Olive oil can solidify in cold temperatures. If you just let the dressing sit out for a few minutes to warm up, then shake, it should be back to normal. :)