The Basic French Dressing

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • About

    ¼ cup

    , enough for a salad for two.

Appears in

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1969

  • About

The French, the sauce masters, call this sauce salade. The basic recipe is made solely with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, but there are hundreds of variations. However, French dressing should always be freshly made, and if it contains garlic and spices it should not be allowed to stand in the refrigerator for more than an hour or so. The dressing loses its fresh quality, which is essential for good salads.


  • ½ to 1 tablespoon wine vinegar (the amount will depend on the strength of the vinegar)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil, salad oil, or olive oil, or a combination


Place the vinegar, salt, and pepper in a salad bowl or mixing bowl and add the oil while beating with a wire whisk.


  1. Lemon juice may be substituted for part or all of the vinegar.

  2. All olive oil in this dressing may be too strong for some palates. If it is used, it is best to combine it with another oil. Most French chefs rarely use all olive oil in this dressing. They use peanut oil, vegetable oil, or one of these oils with a little olive oil.