Favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette

By Ann Fulton

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A year-round staple that pulls double duty as a flavorful marinade for chicken, this versatile homemade dressing will add zip to a wide variety of fresh vegetables and basic pantry ingredients, too. 



Finding one or two homemade dressings that you enjoy and keeping them on hand will facilitate easy meals that taste flavorful and fresh.

Moreover, making your favorite condiments from scratch will likely offer cost savings and reduce the amount of additives and preservatives otherwise consumed via store-bought versions.

This balsamic vinaigrette is a great “basic” to keep on hand. Perfect for easy green and pasta salads as well as grains like quinoa.

I adore this dressing with a combination of feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow bell peppers, and a hearty dose of sunflower seeds. However, the flavors pair equally well with summer fruits like strawberries and peaches as well as colder weather staples like apples and pears.  

Try tossing leftover roasted vegetables with your favorite greens, a cooked grain, and a drizzle of this vinaigrette. It’s also rather tasty on a roasted beet salad with feta or blue cheese and walnuts. 

Lately, I have started using the vinaigrette as a marinade, too, as in this Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Tomato Feta Salsa.

A year-round staple that pulls double duty as a flavorful marinade for chicken, this versatile homemade dressing will add zip to a wide variety of fresh vegetables and basic pantry ingredients, too. 
Favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 cup (recipe easy to halve or double)
The following balsamic vinaigrette is a year-round staple, which can also be used as a flavorful marinade for chicken. For a tangier kick, I occasionally swap 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar with a tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
  • 1 small garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (30g) honey*
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (90ml) balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup (112ml) olive oil (avocado oil works well too)
  1. In a small bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid, whisk together the garlic, salt, pepper, Dijon, honey, and balsamic vinegar.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking as you go, until the dressing is emulsified. When using a jar, add the olive oil, screw the lid on tightly, and shake well.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours to allow flavors to blend.
  4. Storage: The vinaigrette will keep several weeks in the refrigerator. Allow it to come to room temperature before using, as the olive oil will separate and become firm (this is normal), and then shake well prior to using.

* The recipe above provides widely appealing, balanced flavor but can be modified to taste: For a tangier vinaigrette, use 1 tablespoon of honey. For a sweeter dressing, add an additional teaspoon. For a vegan recipe, replace the honey with maple syrup or agave.

An easy marinade and dinner inspiration: Use ¼ to ⅓ cup of vinaigrette for each pound of chicken and refrigerate in a zip-top bag, overnight for maximum flavor. Grill or bake and then top with chopped fresh tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, a dusting of slivered basil, and an extra drizzle of the vinaigrette.

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  1. Alexis

    Ok, so I *finally* got around to making this salad dressing….what have I been missing!?!? I love it!! The consistency is just right and it achieves a nice balance of flavors. Thank you. This is now my go to balsamic dressing, made from easy pantry ingredients!

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  8. Tina

    Ann – This is now a favorite in our house too! I love your column and website. There are still a lot of recipes that we need to try. Thx!

  9. Judy Arnold

    Hi Ann-
    I like Paul Newman’s oil and vinegar dressing but like many bottled dressings, I find it too salty. I have found that adding a small amount of brown sugar (to taste) helps. Regular sugar is too sweet.

    Am making Jack’s salad tonight! The tomatoes this year are awesome!!

    1. Ann

      Thanks for sharing your tip, Judy, and I hope you enjoyed the salad recipe. The tomatoes sure are delicious right now!

  10. maryabram

    I often want something like this for my cucumbers, tomatoes and onion salad.
    I can never remember what to use….now I have a great recipe. 🙂