Basic Vinaigrette for Green Salads

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    1 to 1¼ cups

Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

Plain vinaigrettes can be varied by balancing the flavors of various vinegars and oils. Some chefs use only extra-virgin olive oil for their salads, while others like to attenuate the full flavor of olive oil with relatively inert-tasting oils such as safflower, avocado (the best choice), or French huile d’arachide. Some chefs are fond of nut oils, such as walnut or hazelnut.

Most people use mustard when making a vinaigrette (not only for flavor but because it acts as an emulsifier), but mustard can obscure the flavor of good-quality oils and is best left out when using the sauce for green salads. When preparing vinaigrette to be served with cold meats, mustard is a welcome addition. Either finely ground Dijon or whole-grain Meaux-style mustard can be used.

Depending on taste and the strength of the vinegar, most vinaigrettes contain one part vinegar to three or four parts oil.


vinegar ¼ cup 65 ml
mustard (optional) 1 to 2 tsp 15 to 30 ml
salt and pepper to taste to taste
oil ¾ to 1 cup 190 to 250 ml


Combine the vinegar, mustard, if using, and salt and pepper in a bowl. (A)

Slowly stir in the oil with a whisk. (B, C)

Do not beat. When most, but not all, of the oil has been added, start tasting the vinaigrette. It may not be necessary to add all the oil. Do not worry if the vinaigrette separates. When it is tossed with the salad greens, all of its components will coat the greens even if the vinaigrette has not been thoroughly emulsified.