Classic French vinaigrette

One of my first culinary shocks when I moved to the USA was ordering “French dressing” for my salad and getting a tomato-base sweet dressing… That’s how I learned that the classic French vinaigrette I grew up with was not what Americans called French dressing…

I actually didn’t know any other salad dressing until my first trip out of France to Germany. At our house, my Mom always kept a bottle of home made vinaigrette in the kitchen (she even went through a phase where she was making her own vinegar from red wine leftovers…). But my Grandmother who lived with us had her special bottle as she liked hers more acidic than my Mom’s. I was often in charge of making it for her as I shared her taste and her bottle!

The beauty of vinaigrette is that you can not only adjust the level of acidity by adding more vinegar or more oil, but you can play with an infinity of flavors by substituting another vinegar (white wine, balsamic, apple cider…) or lemon juice, and another oil (canola, avocado, walnut, hazelnut, grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, truffle flavored oil…).

My basic recipe for Classic French vinaigrette is one that I keep coming back to. The ratio is 1 part vinegar + 3 parts oil. The mustard helps create a smooth stable emulsion that will actually remain emulsified for days. It has a nice punch of acidity and a little bit goes a long way to flavor your salad. And it is made with heart-healthy olive oil! My personal go-to oil: Partanna

I personally like Sherry vinegar as it has a complex rounded acidity. Watch out, this has nothing to do with “Sherry cooking wine” which is a cheap wine that has been flavored and colored to mimic true Sherry. If you can’t find Sherry vinegar, start with red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar. Here is the one I use:

You can also experiment adding finely diced shallots, garlic, dried basil, oregano… You can of course add fresh herbs but in that case it won’t keep.

Have fun and let me know what’s your favorite combination!

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5 from 2 votes

Classic French vinaigrette

A traditional salad dressing that has been used in France for centuries, there are as many versions of vinaigrette as there are cooks… From this basic recipe, you can experiment with a variety of vinegars and oils, add herbs, reduce or increase the acidity to your liking by changing the ratio. The sky is the limit!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Sauce / Dip / Dressing
Cuisine: French
Keyword: mustard, olive oil
Servings: 17 Tablespoons
Author: Veronique Eichler


  • Place mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk to dissolve mustard and salt.
  • Slowly whisk in olive oil into an emulsion.



Keep at room temperature in an airtight container. This will keep in your pantry at least a week or two.
Nutrition facts are for 1 Tablespoon.


Calories: 85kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 76mg | Sugar: 1g | Iron: 1mg

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  1. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated? I didn’t realize that but will try it. I loved your post on keeping herbs fresh and the barley salad is now a regular with us. I’m enjoying your recipes after making a commitment in August to cook as much the Mediterranean way as possible. Someone from the Facebook group on Mediterranean WOE I belong to linked to your barley salad recipe. So glad they did!

    • Veronique Eichler

      Thank you so much Dewena! This doesn’t need to be refrigerated as all ingredients are shelf-stable. The only thing is the oil can get rancid if you keep it for too long, but between you and me I’ve kept it sometimes for weeks when I was away on vacation and it was as good as new when I came back… If you refrigerate it, the oil will get solid and you will have to let it come to room temperature and shake it a lot before using it. Glad you enjoy this Way of Eating and my recipes! The barley salad was a revelation for me and I was happy to share it.

  2. Classic …. and famous ! The whole grain mustard was not in Mom’s original vinaigrette but it’s an nice improvement … Balsamic vinegar gives a sweet taste, pleasant with tomatoes. Maybe you’ll give us Villers’ seasoning with the red onions ?

    • Veronique Eichler

      Thank you Labrige! I’d be happy to post the recipe in question but you will have to refresh my memory…? What dressing are you talking about?

  3. For 3 tbsp oil (olive or canola), 1 tbsp vinegar (preferably balsamic or Sherry), 1 tsp Maggi salad seasoning, freshly ground black pepper and 1 red onion in thin slices. Fantastic with lettuce, escarole, green leaves … Add oil, onion, pepper and Maggi seasoning to the salad bowl and toss. At the last minute add the vinegar.

    • Veronique Eichler

      Ah yes, I recognize that recipe, however I personally never liked the taste of Maggi salad seasoning, so it is not in my repertoire! Plus it is not available in the USA anyway, to my knowledge… Sorry it won’t make an appearance on this blog! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Pingback: Honey mustard balsamic dressing - Cuisine With Me

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