Quick and easy recipe for vinaigrette salad dressing made from ingredients you have on hand and naturally lower calorie than most vinegar and oil dressings. No refrigeration needed, either!

Easy Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

If you’ve always used bottled salad dressings, it can be a rude shock to discover they’re not always easily available where you might be cruising.

Luckily, it’s easy to make your own from ingredients that you probably already have on board.  This is one that my mom taught me to make, literally, when I was about 4 years old — it’s that simple!

I use this dressing for almost everything — lettuce salad, rice salad, green been salad and even pasta salad, tuna salad and cole slaw when I don’t want a mayonnaise-based dressing.

Additionally, none of the ingredients have to be refrigerated — a huge advantage if you don’t have a refrigerator — or a tiny one.  Plus, the “recipe” (I almost hate to call it that) is easily scalable for any number of people.

Carolyn’s Vinaigrette

By varying the types of oil and vinegar used, you can change the taste considerably.

Put all salad ingredients in bowl large enough to toss the salad in.

Pour 1/2 tablespoon oil (olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil or flavored oil) per serving over the salad.

Quickly toss the salad just to partially coat everything with oil.

Sprinkle salt and 1/2 teaspoon sugar (or sweetener) per serving over the top.  Now drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons vinegar (any type – balsamic, wine, rice, cider, white, flavored, etc.) over the top and toss again.

Serve immediately.

A few notes:

  • You can vary the proportions based on your own preferences — this is far less “oily” than a true French vinaigrette – and lower calorie.  A “true” French vinaigrette uses about 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.
  • The amount of vinegar varies by whether the salad will “soak up” the dressing – pasta and rice will, but lettuce or tuna won’t.
  • You can add cheese or spices (basil, oregano, thyme are all good) for even more variations.
  • Cider vinegar will give the sharpest taste, while the other vinegars are more mellow.

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  • Candy Ann Williams on Facebook
    Posted at 09 January 2012 Reply

    I am a vinegar fan! We don’t ever use bottled dressings any more.

  • Frank
    Posted at 29 June 2013 Reply

    Have you tried reversing the oil/vinegar additions?

    Oil covers the salad and doesn’t allow the vinegar to penetrate so you just get the ‘bite’ of the vinegar. Since it’s an acid (similar to what’s in your stomach), If you put the vinegar on first, it actually starts to “pre-digest” the salad. It doesn’t change the mouth-feel or crispness of the salad (unless you leave it on for a half hour or so before adding the oil) but does reduce the aftereffects of things like cabbage.

  • Dave Skolnick (S/V Auspicious)
    Posted at 29 November 2013 Reply

    Salad dressings are a great way to change things up and provide some diversity in salads (as long as the lettuce and the cabbage hold up). There are so very many choices with all the same ingredients, as Carolyn says, that we carry anyway. It’s worth noting that the raw ingredients to make things from scratch often last much longer than the finished product, so stocking up on eggs, vinegar, oil, UHT milk, and spices will give you lots of options at lower cost than buying prepared products. Make your own mayo (easy) and you are on track to homemade Russian dressing. Some spices and a little UHT cream (a la Mini Moos) and you have everything you need for Italian dressing (which is also a good marinade for poultry).

    I do have to admit to still using an old Good Seasonings mixing bottle for homemade dressings to keep in the refrigerator. I’m way past the pre-mix packets but the dressing bottle is very convenient and helpful.

  • Debra Perfitt
    Posted at 27 July 2015 Reply

    This is the best! Use it all the time. ???

  • David Brodhecker
    Posted at 11 July 2016 Reply

    When making a vinaigrette please use a hand blender! It emulsifies the oil and vinegar which keeps the oil from making your greens go limp.

  • Martha
    Posted at 24 July 2016 Reply

    It’s hard to find the canned roast beef. !! Any suggestions?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 25 July 2016 Reply

      I’ve always been able to find it in the same area of the store as cans of tuna, hash, chicken and so on.

  • Donna
    Posted at 11 June 2017 Reply

    Reminds me of a favorite dressing from Wiodloch Pines!

  • Patricia L. McMullen
    Posted at 11 June 2017 Reply

    I love making my own dressing an quite often make it as I prep my salad. Usually only a single serving to take with me to work, takes two seconds!

  • Shangri La
    Posted at 11 June 2017 Reply

    ❤️ love this recipe

  • Cori Grant
    Posted at 13 June 2017 Reply

    I too make my own dressing that keeps w/o refrigeration but I can’t wait to try yours and commit it to memory!

  • Nica Waters
    Posted at 03 February 2018 Reply

    To me one of the very best first “make it yourself” things for reluctant, unconfident cooks.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 03 February 2018 Reply

      I think I learned my basic recipe when I was maybe 4. Definitely pre-school. It’s a great first thing!

  • Allan Cobb
    Posted at 03 February 2018 Reply

    You can mix vinegars too such as cider and a dash of balsamic.

  • Gena Olson
    Posted at 03 February 2018 Reply

    For all the ingredients except for the vinegar you said per serving. For the vinegar that one is that one to two tablespoons per serving also?

  • JoAnn Williams
    Posted at 03 February 2018 Reply

    I sometimes throw in a bit of oregano, too.

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