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This easy balsamic vinaigrette is a simple homemade salad dressing that’s ready to enjoy in just 5 minutes! The combination of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, and Dijon mustard, creates an authentic recipe that will soon become a staple in your kitchen. The sweet and tangy vinaigrette is delicious when tossed with baby greens for a salad that pairs nicely with almost any entrée — from an omelet at brunch, to a perfect steakcrispy pan-fried chicken, or cozy lasagna casserole.

Glass bottle of homemade Italian Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Salad makes an appearance on our dinner table multiple times per week, and I often don’t have the energy to do much more than toss some lettuce or baby greens with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. This isn’t one of those “fussy” homemade dressings that requires mincing onion, pulling out an immersion blender or food processor, or grabbing all of the spices from your pantry. Instead, it can be whisked together in less than 5 minutes!

Once you realize how fast, easy, and delicious this healthy balsamic vinaigrette recipe tastes, you will never go back to the store-bought version again! It’s fresh, rich, flavorful, and has just the right amount of tang and sweetness. Plus, you’ll be much more likely to actually make the dressing, and therefore more likely to consume those veggies that we know are good for us.

Healthy balsamic vinaigrette recipe with a bowl of mixed greens in the background

Is balsamic vinegar and balsamic vinaigrette the same thing?

No, these are not the same thing, since balsamic vinegar is just one of the ingredients used to make balsamic vinaigrette. Balsamic vinegar is a slightly sweet, dark, richly flavored vinegar. A vinaigrette, by contrast, is any dressing that’s made by mixing together oil and an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or lemon juice. A balsamic vinaigrette uses balsamic vinegar as the acid of choice.

The dressing might include other spices or seasonings, and can be tossed with salad or used as a marinade for meat or veggies. This particular balsamic vinaigrette includes olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey (for just a touch of sweetness), Dijon mustard (which serves as a tangy, zesty, natural emulsifier), garlic, salt, and pepper. That’s all! It tastes light and fresh, it provides a bright, acidic balance for heartier, richer entrees, and it’s full of flavor.

What does balsamic vinaigrette dressing taste like?

Balsamic vinaigrette is a simple dressing that tastes bright and tangy (from the vinegar), slightly sweet (from the honey), and a little bit savory and zesty (from the garlic and Dijon mustard). It’s a lovely way to highlight the natural flavors of vegetables or salad greens.

Is balsamic vinaigrette healthy?

Yes, the two main ingredients in balsamic vinaigrette — balsamic vinegar and olive oil — boast many health benefits. Balsamic vinegar has been proven effective to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood pressure. Some research suggests it can also work as an appetite suppressant, and it contains strains of probiotic bacteria. Similarly, olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, contains large amounts of antioxidants, and has strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a quick jar of homemade balsamic vinaigrette. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Balsamic vinegar: we prefer a high-quality Italian balsamic vinegar, with its robust, complex, aged flavor.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: not all olive oil is created equal! A good quality extra-virgin olive oil should have a bitter, spicy taste.
  • Garlic: about 3 cloves minced, grated, or pressed. For a shortcut, you can substitute with about ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder (adding more gradually after you taste it).
  • Honey: for a slightly sweet, thicker vinaigrette that clings nicely to the salad greens.
  • Dijon mustard: zesty and tangy, the mustard serves as a flavorful emulsifier that brings the dressing together.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: enhance the other flavors.
5 basic ingredients for homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing

How to Make Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is really just a 1-step, 5-minute recipe! I like a ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar in this recipe. It yields the perfect thick consistency and the best taste. Simple, yet fancy!

  1. In a glass jar, small bowl, or large measuring cup, whisk or shake together all of the ingredients until completely emulsified (combined).
  2. Use immediately, or cover and store in an airtight bottle, jar, or other container until ready to enjoy.
Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette in a glass measuring jar with whisk

How to Use Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

Drizzle the vinaigrette over a big bowl of your favorite spring greens, peppery arugula, crisp Romaine lettuce, spinach salad, kale, or other salad greens of choice. If you like additional ingredients in your bowl, here are a few ideas:

  • Toasted nuts or seeds
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, crumbled feta cheese, blue cheese, or goat cheese
  • Diced tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, fresh shallot, celery, or carrot
  • Dried cranberries, raisins, or other fruit
  • Fresh berries, sliced apple, sliced pear
  • Citrus such as oranges, blood oranges, mandarin slices, or grapefruit
  • Croutons or fried onions

You can also use the vinaigrette as a marinade for chicken, steak, or fish that you plan to grill, saute, or roast, or use it as a pasta salad dressing.

Salad bowl full of fresh mixed greens

Storage

Store the vinaigrette in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid. This makes it easy to shake up the ingredients when you’re ready to enjoy it again, since the oil and vinegar will naturally separate as the dressing settles. Store the jar of vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Pouring balsamic vinaigrette on salad

Recipe Variations

  • Don’t have fresh garlic cloves? Substitute with ¼ teaspoon garlic powder. Taste the dressing, and gradually add a little bit more garlic powder if you like.
  • If you don’t like any sweetness in your dressing, omit the honey. You can also substitute maple syrup or brown sugar for the honey, or add more sweetener to taste.
  • Add dried or fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, chives, basil, or oregano. For a shortcut, season the dressing with our favorite all-purpose seasoning blend.
  • Double all of the ingredients to make a bigger batch of dressing, or cut the ingredients in half for a smaller portion.

Tips for the Best Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe

  • Finely mince, press, or grate your garlic. You don’t want any big chunks of garlic floating around in your dressing.
  • Use the highest quality balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil that you can find. They will make the difference between a thin, flavorless, runny salad dressing and a thick, robust, rich balsamic vinaigrette!
  • Stream in the olive oil slowly while whisking continually. This helps emulsify the dressing, bringing all of the ingredients together. Alternatively, you can shake the ingredients together in a mason jar.
  • Taste the vinaigrette by dipping a piece of lettuce or other salad greens into the dressing. This will give you a better sense for how the vinaigrette will actually taste on your salad.
  • Adjust the amount of salt and pepper to suit your personal taste preferences. I also like to season the lettuce greens with salt and pepper.
  • If using delicate lettuce or baby greens, wait to dress the salad until you’re ready to serve. If you’re using sturdier greens, like kale, you can toss the salad in advance and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.
Jar of balsamic vinaigrette with fresh vegetables and herbs in background

More Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes to Try

Bottle of homemade balsamic vinaigrette

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings 20 tablespoons
Calories 81 kcal
This balsamic vinaigrette is a simple homemade salad dressing that's ready to enjoy in just 5 minutes!

Ingredients
  

  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced, pressed, or grated (or sub with about ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, plus more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • For serving: mixed greens

Instructions

  • Whisk (or shake) together all ingredients until completely combined.

Notes

  • Finely mince, press, or grate your garlic. You don’t want any big chunks of garlic floating around in your dressing.
  • Use the highest quality balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil that you can find. They will make the difference between a thin, flavorless, runny salad dressing and a thick, robust, rich balsamic vinaigrette!
  • Stream in the olive oil slowly while whisking continually. This helps emulsify the dressing, bringing all of the ingredients together. Alternatively, you can shake the ingredients together in a mason jar.
  • Taste the vinaigrette by dipping a piece of lettuce or other salad greens into the dressing. This will give you a better sense for how the vinaigrette will actually taste on your salad.
  • Adjust the amount of salt and pepper to suit your personal taste preferences. I also like to season the lettuce greens with salt and pepper.
  • If using delicate lettuce or baby greens, wait to dress the salad until you’re ready to serve. If you’re using sturdier greens, like kale, you can toss the salad in advance and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 81kcalCarbohydrates: 2gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 120mgPotassium: 5mgSugar: 2gVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 2mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword: Balsamic Vinaigrette, balsamic vinaigrette dressing, homemade balsamic vinaigrette, Salad Dressing Recipe, Vinaigrette Recipe
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in September, 2018. It was updated in June, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Love that this includes dijon mustard! Can’t wait to make this the next time I hit the grocery store. Thanks so much for sharing!