How to make a salad dressing without a recipe
Who says you need a recipe to create a stunner salad dressing? As it turns out, it’s shockingly simple to mix up your own tasty dressings from scratch. All it takes is a few pantry staples and pinch of creativity.
Intimidated? Don’t be! Every vinaigrette only takes a few ingredients and the same basic principles. Plus, once you get the hang of the basics, you can start freestyling your own custom dressings for every variety of salad imaginable.
As the name suggests, a vinaigrette starts with vinegar. The variety you select depends on the flavor profile you’re targeting. For a light, neutral base, rice wine vinegar is a great option—it’s also perfect for many Asian dressings. Looking to go a little on the sweeter side? Try red or white wine vinegar for a satisfying tang. Of course, a great option is always balsamic. A rich balsamic vinaigrette is so simple, but it’s always a crowd pleaser, and it suits tons of different salads.
Next, slowly whisk in vegetable oil. A rule of thumb for any vinaigrette is three parts oil, one part vinegar, but you can also experiment with the ratio to suit your tastes. For oils, a good go-to is always olive. However, if you are looking for a lighter flavor, consider subbing in a more neutral option such as grapeseed, avocado, or sunflower. During this step, you’ll also want to add in salt—we recommend about ¼ tsp for every tablespoon of vinegar.
That’s it! You just made your first vinaigrette without a recipe. It really is that simple.
If you’re feeling adventurous, the (optional) next step is to add more flavor. Add-ins fall into a few basic categories:
Alliums such as garlic, onions, or shallots blend perfectly with vinegar to create more complex, full-bodied flavor. Just be sure to mince them very finely and mix well for the best effect.
Mustards thicken your dressing and add an unmistakable tang to any mixture. Dijon, for example, is the perfect addition to elevate a basic balsamic and olive oil combo.
Sweeteners can transform the flavor profile of the dressing. In addition to classic options such as white or brown sugar, consider natural choices—honey, agave, or maple syrup. Just remember, with sweeteners, a little goes a long way.
Spices take your dressing to the next level. Paprika is always an excellent choice to add a little depth to your flavor, and cumin is known to create a delightful savory feel to your recipe. You can also try spicier options such as dried peppers, cayenne pepper, or chilli powder to add an extra kick to your vinaigrette.
Herbs add a fresh, elevated finish to any dressing. Consider sprinkling in finely chopped dill, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, or any other choice that strikes your fancy. Remember, there are no rules here.
And that’s it. Simple, right? Give it a try! Your first freestyle salad dressing is just a few flicks of a whisk away.