Oil- and Vinegar-Based Salad Dressing Recipes

These easy-to-make salad dressing recipes are all based on oil and vinegar, ingredients you can find in your everyday pantry.

| May/June 1988

Why cover your lively greens with a tired old sauce? With an assortment of oils and vinegars, you can design your own salad dressing recipes to suit yourself. 

Oil and Vinegar Based Salad Dressing Recipes

Remember vinegar and oil? The last two items at the end of a salad bar, neglected and disdained? Two cruets of pale liquid, indistinguishable except that one is sticky to the touch (oh, that's the oil).

No more. In recent years, as more flavorful greens have begun to jostle the iceberg lettuce in our salad bowls, an array of condiments has joined the corn oil and cider vinegar on supermarket shelves: rich, luxurious oils, smooth, mellow vinegars. Combine them, and you have vinaigrette—that ancient and honorable sauce that moved Virgil to poetry, the finest accompaniment to greens yet devised.

At its simplest, vinaigrette is a mixture of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper used to create salad dressing recipes. There's only one rule—use three parts oil to one part vinegar—and a hundred good reasons to break it. With a stock of oils and vinegars on hand, and with a bit of the mad chemist in your heart, you can mix and match enough dressings to see you through a season of salads with little or no repetition.


Vinegars (from the French vin aigre, or “sour wine”) results when an alcoholic liquid—wine, malted grain, cider, distilled alcohol—sours, or is infected with bacteria that convert alcohol to acetic acid. Remarkably varied in strength, flavor and character, they can be used singly or in combination.

Wine vinegars provide the richest store of salad dressings. Although brands differ (a few are harsh), generic red wine vinegars are full-bodied and mellow, able to stand up to the strongest oil. Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar is so good that every salad addict ought to own a bottle. Somewhat gentler than the reds, white wine vinegars are essential additions to the pantry. Chardonnay and champagne vinegars offer faint but perceptible traces of their parents, sherry vinegar is stronger.

Elaine Waters
4/21/2013 11:26:34 PM

How long will vinegars and oils keep?

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