The Most Amazing Balsamic Vinaigrette

A great balsamic vinaigrette will just blow you away! Not the store bought kind, ever – it has to be home-made to be any good, which is really no problem because it takes about three minutes to make.

The Most Amazing Balsamic Vinaigrette, Ever
The Most Amazing Balsamic Vinaigrette, Ever

There’s no reason to worry about budget when tossing together this dressing. A store bought balsamic and plain old olive oil will still beat out any store-bought dressing, without all the additives, and will cost less. If you’d like to go higher end, check out Trader Joe’s. They have a couple pretty decent assortment of Balsamic Vinegar, and it won’t break the bank. You’ll also find a number of fancy olive oils, too.

The Most Amazing Balsamic Vinaigrette - closer view
The Most Amazing Balsamic Vinaigrette – closer view

Save the really good Balsamic for special occasions and special dishes, though.You’ll find that with the garlic, herbs and spices there’s kind of a diminishing return when adding pricier balsamics to this dressing.

This little recipe came from a friend, but I think it was probably originally a Cook’s Illustrated number. I often vary the dressing with a little red onion, yellow onion or scallions instead of the more expensive shallots, and I vary the process, too, to create a creamy balsamic. Drizzle it on your favorite salads, marinade with it, try it on a little fruit. Just have fun with it, and do try not to drink it! :)

The Most Amazing Balsamic Vinaigrette - you can see the emulsion at work here
The Most Amazing Balsamic Vinaigrette – you can see the emulsion at work here
The Most Amazing Balsamic Vinaigrette  {Print}

makes 1 cup, 1 tablespoon per serving

  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot, or red onion (I’ve used regular onion, too.)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Shake all of the ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. The dressing can be refrigerated; bring to room temperature, then shake vigorously to recombine before using.

Alternatively, this makes a creamier version with a little care: Mash the garlic with the back of a knife, sprinkle the garlic with the salt and continue to mash with the knife, scraping it back and forth over the garlic until a fine paste is formed.

Add to a heavy jar (a glass measuring cup works well), add in the rest of ingredients except oil. Stir together, then slowly add the oil, almost drop by drop, stirring briskly with a fork. When the mixture begins to thicken, continue adding the oil in a small stream, all the while still stirring briskly. The emulsion will last for some time, but eventually separate.

Note: I will open mine and put in the microwave for a few seconds to melt the olive oil if it’s hardened in the fridge. You may add a little sugar or honey to this, too, if it seems too tart.  I think it tastes better after it sits for a bit.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving money/time and managing this recipe.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.


Per Serving: 91 Calories; 10g Fat (97.9% calories from fat); trace Protein; trace Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 75mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Put Your Own Spin on It:

Vary the herbs, the mustard, the aromatics.  You could mix up the vinegar and mustard in the blender and drizzle in the oil for a heavier emulsion.

My Pay Off: 

A dressing I had to pay for, as opposed to something I very well could have gotten free at the store with the right sale and coupon…how does that pay off?  For me, it is the quality and the control over the ingredients:  no trans-fat, and no questionable additives and preservatives.  It tastes better, too!

If you’re curious about some of the additives you’ll find in many dressings, check out my “rant” on Hidden Valley Salad Kit.

4 thoughts on “The Most Amazing Balsamic Vinaigrette”

  1. This is the recipe my sister makes regularly, and she got it from a magazine maybe as long ago as 10 years. I want to say that it was from a magazine geared toward healthier living/cooking, but the title escapes me. I copied it down from the tornout page, and she’s since lost it. Since it’s a regular fixture in her home, she doesn’t need the recipe anymore. It’s memorized. This is definitely my favorite balsamic vinaigrette, hands down!

    1. Thanks for the comment – I always like knowing the pedigrees of the dishes I love – especially the old, handwritten ones. In some strange way it makes me feel a connection to past generations, other cooks…it’s my favorite, too. Tangy and not overpowering. I swear I could drink it from the jar!

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