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How to Make a Basic French-Style Salad Dressing (Vinaigrette)

I used to work in my family's restaurant and helped run it. I love good food, and I've cooked family meals for over 60 years.

Homemade French-style salad dressing

Homemade French-style salad dressing

Quick and Easy Recipe

This recipe is so easy, you'll be kicking yourself for not having tried to make your own salad dressing at home years ago!

I learnt how to make this delicious French-style salad dressing from my father. He was a great gourmet who loved his food, and I can see him now—adding a bit of this and a bit of that to make up this aromatic salad dressing or vinaigrette.

Naturally, I have my own version, and doubtless once you have learned how to make it, you will choose to add your own embellishments. That's what's so good about cookery—it's a living, progressing art form, and you are about to be swept up in it, to create wonderful salads, just to your own taste.

French-style salad dressing

French-style salad dressing

Precise Measurements Aren't Required

Precise measurements are not essential for this recipe. Although the ideal is to fill your salad dressing pourer with a mixture of half olive oil and half vinegar, you may choose to use more vinegar and less oil, for dietary reasons, or more oil and less vinegar, because you've run out of vinegar—see what I mean?


Basic dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I use balsamic vinegar which I only discovered about 7 years ago, but you can use ordinary malt vinegar and it will still taste good. Balsamic vinegar tastes slightly sweeter and more aromatic than malt vinegar, but is a lot more expensive.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
  • Sprig of thyme or a few basil leaves and/or a sprig of rosemary

Optional additions:

  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3-4 drops Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 drops soy sauce
  • A few crushed chilli seeds or a tiny chilli
  • Squeeze of lemon juice


  1. Pour the oil and vinegar into the salad dressing bottle.
  2. In a small dish or egg cup, stir the mustard, sugar and a little of the vinegar. Optionally you can add a good squeeze of lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoonful of salt, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and or soy sauce. When well mixed, pour them into the bottle.
  3. Peel and crush the garlic, and cut it up into small pieces.
  4. Add the garlic and herbs (including a very small amount of chili if you like a slightly piquant flavour) to the bottle. Put the stopper in, and, holding the stopper in place, shake the bottle vigorously to mix the ingredients.

NB: The oil always rises to the top—this is quite normal. The salad dressing bottle always needs to be shaken up immediately before use.

Salad Dressing Bottle

Salad Dressing Poll

Add your comments and tips here!

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on February 03, 2016:

I've pinned and yum'd your recipe and can't wait to try it. I've just recently learned to love balsamic vinegar, so I know I'll love this salad dressing.

oliversmum from australia on December 23, 2013:

Diana Grant Hi. Love the look and sound of your Salad Dressing Recipe. Its looks easy to make as well. It is Summer here so it will be a great dressing to have on hand. Thanks for sharing it with us. Thumbs up and very useful. :) :)

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