Image by silviarita from Pixabay

So, not surprisingly, coming out of 9 months of covid lockdown in 2020, where I decided I needed comfort, and that meant baking ALL OF THE THINGS, including sourdough bread in the spring and cakes and cookies for the holidays, my weight has ballooned to almost 140 lbs. Menopause and a drastically slowed metabolism didn’t help. More important than the increased weight, I felt like garbage. (My ideal weight is somewhere between 115 and 125 lbs). I’ll write more on this particular weight loss journey in a future post (I’m down to the 133-134 range in about 4 weeks. I’ve got a ways to go, but what I’m doing IS working).

As part of this weight loss journey, I belong to a Whole30 group on Facebook, mostly for recipe inspiration. (You can read about my Whole30 experience here.) And I’m regularly astounded at how many people don’t know how to make a simple salad dressing. Endless pictures of bottled salad dressing labels with questions of “Is this compliant?”, along with complaints that the Whole30 compliant brands (Primal Kitchen and Tessemae’s) just aren’t all that tasty, leave me shaking my head. Vinegar, oil, herbs and spices, perhaps a bit of mustard. Its actually quite simple to make a salad dressing.

So I thought I’d put together a list of vinaigrette dressing recipes to riff on, in case anyone is looking for inspiration. I tend to default to a balsamic vinaigrette for most things, because I could probably drink balsamic by the shot glass and be happy. For creamy dressings, start with my homemade Ranch.

A few notes. If you want a longer shelf life on your dressings, use dried herbs, garlic and onion. Their low water content will help your dressing last longer in the fridge. Gonna use it up quickly? By all means use fresh.

  • Garlic Powder. 1/8 tsp dried = 1 clove or ½ tsp minced fresh.
  • Onion Powder: 1 tsp dried = 1 tbsp dried flakes or 1/3 cup fresh chopped.
  • Most herbs: 1 tsp dried = 2 tsp to 1 tbsp fresh. (I’ve seen both “divide fresh by 3” and “divide fresh by 2” recommendations. If your dried herbs are more than about 6 months old, divide a fresh recommendation by 2 as they won’t be as strong.
  • Dried powdered mustard vs prepared bottled mustard. Rounded 1/4 tsp dried = 1 tsp bottled.
  • Tbsp = tablespoon. Tsp = teaspoon. There are three teaspoons in one tablespoon.

The general recommendation by America’s Test Kitchen on vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part acid/vinegar. If you are watching your calorie intake (oils have about 120 calories per tablespoon, which can add up fast) you can use less oil. I promise the vinaigrette police won’t come to your house.

Speaking of bottles, a lot of this recipe advice is adapted from those Kolder and Norpro bottles with the preprinted dressing recipes on the side. I’ve had them for years. I use the recipes as a starting point for what I’m making, without following the exact measurements suggested on the bottle. I love these bottles because they are tall and skinny, so they store easily in my fridge door (I have SO MANY mason jars in there already. I don’t want more) and the seal is good on them, so they don’t tend to leak when shaken. I prefer the Kolder to the Norpro because the flip top on the Norpro wears out quickly.

Another note: Oil and water don’t naturally stay mixed. So those specialty salad dressing shaker bottles, to me, are just kind of silly. They won’t work any better than a simple mason jar. If you include an emulsifier in your dressing, ie a touch of mustard or mayonnaise, your dressing will stay blended long enough to pour it, and that’s really all you need. Store bought dressings use things like xanthan gum or soy lecithin to keep things mixed longer.

The Well Floured Kitchen website, now defunct (copied from Pinterest)

All recipes make about a cup, enough for 8 two tablespoon servings, which is my typical serving for a dinner sized salad. If you are avoiding all sugars, then just leave them out of the recipe. I like a good hit of acid on a salad, and so I regularly do a 1:1 ratio of oil to acid. If you find this is too acidic for you, just do 1/4 cup vinegar/acid and 3/4 cup oil instead. Keep good notes and adjust to your own tastes over time.

If you feel comfortable riffing on your own, here’s my formula for a basic vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup oil of choice (olive is my go-to, but grapeseed, avocado or just a bottle of “vegetable oil” all work)
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (balsamic, white wine, red wine, apple cider, rice wine, sherry, champagne – I consider the first 5 pantry staples), or acidic fruit juice of choice (lemon, lime, orange)
  • 1 tsp bottled mustard (Dijon is the go-to here, but most will work, or you can sub a bit of dried mustard powder in a pinch. Helps keep it emulsified.)
  • 2 tsp mayonnaise (optional, but boosts its ability to stay emulsified longer)
  • around 1 tbsp of dried herbs of choice (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp of onion powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Dump all ingredients into your jar of choice, shake well, and then let sit for 30 minutes or so for the herbs/spices to rehydrate. Shake again before serving.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup decent olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch)
  • 1/2 cup reasonably priced balsamic (I like Trader Joes when I can get it)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (or if you feel like this overpowers the dressing, you can cut back to as little as 1 tsp).

French Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley (a good herbs de Provence blend would be a great substitution here too)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Pinch salt and pepper

Italian Herb Vinaigrette (an American creation – so don’t be afraid to substitute whatever YOU interpret as “Italian”)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (white would work here too)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp each of dried basil, oregano and thyme (or just use 2 tbsp Italian Herb blend)
  • Pinch red pepper flake (optional)
  • Pinch salt and pepper

Asian Dressing (I’ve probably made 15 versions of this over the years for Chinese chicken salad!)

  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil like grapeseed
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar (or honey) – optional
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic/chili paste (optional)


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • You can also substitute a couple of tsp of an “All Purpose Greek Seasoning” like Cavender’s, if you have it on hand and are OK with the ingredients
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp cheap green can Parmesan (optional)

Caesar (not traditional – which would involve a partially cooked egg). Due to cheese, I’d only store this one for about a week.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp mayonnaise
  • Dash (a few drops) Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash fish sauce (a few drops) – optional
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese

Honey Mustard (try this as a dressing on potato salad or with roasted vegetables!)

  • 1/2 cup neutral flavored oil like grapeseed
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp whole grain mustard (Golden’s spicy brown would be fine here – or you could make your own)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • Dash hot sauce (optional)

Sweet Mustard Poppy Seed

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive or neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or honey) – you CAN use less if this seems too sweet
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Be sure to shake until sugar/honey is fully dissolved.

© 2021 Miles Away Farm, where we’re miles away from being tired of salad in all of its forms, thank heavens, but are looking forward to fresh spinach and strawberry salad this spring.