Making your own salad dressing is quick, easy, and the main benefit is that you can make it suit whatever flavor profile you are going for!
The possibilities are endless for dressings, but for your basic vinaigrette dressing there is a simple ratio to remember.
*3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar*
Many factors for the dressing you are creating will alter this ratio slightly but as a starting point the 3-to-1 ratio will get you started on your way to delicious dressings! You may want to add citrus, mustard, honey, egg yolk, shallots, chiles, garlic...you get the idea.
All of these ingredients will change the needs of that ratio, but the most important thing to remember is that taste will be your guide to what your dressing needs.
FIRST INGREDIENT: OIL
The oil you choose will be the predominant flavor in your dressing, so choose carefully. Be sure to taste the oil on its own and if you like it that way it will be great in your dressing.
Olive oil is a classic and gives vinaigrette that subtle olive flavor. A more neutral tasting oil like grapeseed or avocado will let
other flavors show through more. Unique oils like walnut or coconut have a distinct flavor that may fit with certain flavor profiles. You can also use a combination of oils, like adding a small amount of sesame oil in combination with a neutral oil. You'll have to do a bit of experimenting to find what you're looking for on any given day.
Note on rancid oil: If the oil is something you haven’t used in a while, check to be sure it hasn’t turned rancid before using it in your vinaigrette. Delicate oils that have been hiding in the pantry like olive oil, vegetable oil, walnut oil, or sesame oil are particularly susceptible. To check the oil, put a drop on your finger and taste it. It should taste smooth with no bitterness.
SECOND INGREDIENT: VINEGAR
There are so many choices for vinegar! Balsamic, sherry, rice, apple cider, red, white...and citrus juice can also be used in conjunction with vinegar or as a substitute for the vinegar in your dressing. Just avoid plain distilled white vinegar. It has a very strong, harsh flavor that isn’t generally very good in vinaigrettes.
Here are some other ideas for salad dressing flavors:
Honey, maple syrup, agave
Fresh or dried herbs
Fresh cheese, grated
How do you mix it?
Mason jars work well, or any jar with a lid. You can pretty much rely on your eye to approximate the 3-to 1 ratio and go from there! If you are only mixing for the salad you are making, just put the ingredients in the bowl your salad will go in an whisk away! If you are making a little more, grab a pint mason jar with a lid, put your ingredients in and just shake it up until it’s mixed together. If you’re making more or putting larger chunks of fruit in your dressing you may want to use your blender or an immersion blender to blend it until it’s smooth.
How long will it last?
Fresh dressings don’t have all the preservatives that store bought ones do, so keep that in mind when deciding how much to make!
If your dressing is just oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, you can store it in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 5 weeks. If you added fresh ingredients to your dressing, be sure to store it in the refrigerator and use it within about 5 days.
With this simple ratio and your taste buds as your guide, you are well on your way to customized salad dressings with more flavor than anything you can find in the store!