This zesty classic Lemon Vinaigrette is a basic salad dressing recipe that you will use over and over
Making your own vinaigrettes is easy. Once you start making your own salad dressing you will never want to go back to bottled dressings again because they taste so fresh
We use this dressing on everything from a basic arugula salad to drizzling over roasted vegetables. It would be terrific on our Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
Use the best ingredients for Lemon Vinaigrette:
Classic lemon vinaigrette is made with ingredients that you likely already have on hand.
The key to great taste is using the highest quality ingredients because the flavor will really shine through in a vinaigrette. This is the time to use your best Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Since nothing will be heated, every ingredient flavor matters.
- Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice – use only fresh lemon juice for a fresh zippy flavor. You will need 2-3 lemons for this recipe
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – choose best quality for a rich bright flavor
- Shallots – finely chopped and optional but highly recommended. Shallots have a milder flavor than onions and are a great match for lemons
- Sugar – to help mellow the citrus flavor
- Salt and Pepper – use white pepper if you want a pure color
How to make larger batches of vinaigrette
It’s a great idea to make bigger batches of vinaigrette and use it throughout the week. In my house, we tend to eat more salads if everything is quick and ready to go in the refrigerator so that we can quickly toss it together at dinner time.
You can double or triple this recipe, and it keeps well in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
The ratio for a classic vinaigrette is:
1 part acid : 3 parts oil
Lemon vinaigrette is really just a simple emulsion of acid and oil. Follow this 1:3 formula for nearly every vinaigrette.
I like to make my salad dressing in a small food processor, or in a blender, to create a quick emulsion, but it’s easy to whisk it in a glass bowl or large glass measuring cup. Be sure to finely mince the shallots if you are whisking the dressing by hand.
How to make Classic Lemon Vinaigrette:
When making homemade vinaigrette salad dressing follow this order:
- Mix together acid (fruit juice), and all other ingredients, except the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
- Slowly drizzle in oil, little by little, and blend. This gives the acid a chance to be absorbed by the oil, creating a smooth emulsion. Continuing adding and blending.
- Blend for about one minute longer if you want to create a creamier texture
- Note: If you like the texture of shallots then add them last for a quick blend so they don’t get pureed in the blender, but make sure they are very finely chopped.
Variations on lemon vinaigrette:
Using fresh lemons is just the start! You can adapt this dressing to make any citrus-flavored dressing.
- Substitute oranges for the lemons. If you find blood oranges they make an amazing vinaigrette
- Any acidic fruit will work and it’s nice to add the same fruit from your vinaigrette to your salad
- Limes are a great substitute when dressing a Mexican style salad
- Add a teaspoon of dijon mustard for an extra tangy dressing
- Substitute one clove of minced garlic for the shallots if you want a stronger flavor
- Add a tablespoon of any chopped fresh herbs, or a 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs, to any vinaigrette
How long does homemade lemon vinaigrette last?
Store vinaigrette in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. It keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
It’s important to remember that, unlike store-bought salad dressing, this dressing will separate pretty quickly, so you will need to shake well before each use. Separation is normal.
Try our other classic vinaigrette and salad recipes:
- Champagne and Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
- Arugula Beet Avocado Salad
- Easy Grilled Caesar Salad
- Southwest Chicken Salad with Southwest Chipotle Ranch Dressing
- Fresh Peach Salad with Port Wine Vinaigrette
Classic Lemon Vinaigrette Recipe
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, from about 2-3 lemons
- 1 tsp sugar, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 3 tbsp shallots, minced
- 3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- In a small food processor, blender or medium-sized glass bowl add lemon juice, sugar, salt, pepper, and shallot. Blend until smooth.
- Slowly drizzle in olive oil and blend or whisk until completely combined.
- This dressing can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar. Shake well before using.