Lemon Vinaigrette

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This zippy and tangy Lemon Vinaigrette is hands down my favorite dressing recipe! It’s lively, tart with a touch of sweet, and robustly flavored. A must-have recipe in your cooking arsenal!

Overhead image of Lemon Vinaigrette

Lemon Vinaigrette

Lemons are one of my favorite ingredients to cook and bake with — you’ll never catch my fridge without at least a handful of lemons in it — we use them almost daily in savory applications like this fan-favorite Grilled Chicken Marinade to sweet recipes like this Lemon Pie, and let’s not forget this Peach Lemonade!

So, naturally, a vinaigrette with lemon is going to rank up high on my list of favorites. But this is no ordinary lemon vinaigrette — it’s one I’ve tested and tweaked over the years until I can undoubtedly claim it as my favorite homemade dressing. And that is quite a claim coming from someone that has shared over 100 salad recipes throughout the years!

Image of the dressing being poured over the salad

What Lemon Vinaigrette Is Made Of

Below we’ll break down the ingredients in this dressing interspersed with specific ingredient tips!

  • Dijon mustard. We love Grey Poupon® Dijon best. Make sure to use Dijon, not yellow mustard. There’s a big flavor difference!
  • Olive oil. The better the olive oil used, the better the flavor of the lemon vinaigrette will be. We recommend extra virgin olive oil for this recipe.
  • Honey. Even with this sweetener added in, this dressing is still primarily tangy. For a sweeter dressing, add additional honey, slowly, and to taste.
  • Lemons. Bottled lemon juice doesn’t pack the same flavor as fresh, and lemon is one of the main flavors here. The dressing also benefits from lemon zest which is another reason to use fresh lemon.
  • Red wine vinegar. Instead of relying solely on lemon juice for flavor and tanginess, we add red wine vinegar which adds even more tang and some flavor nuance. 
  • Optional flavor enhancers: We like adding a dried herb into this dressing — Italian seasoning is typically the go-to. We’ve also made this vinaigrette plenty of times with dried oregano or dried basil — each yields similar results, with slight differences.
  • Salt and pepper. No dressing is complete without salt and pepper, and this vinaigrette is no exception! Add to taste preference, remembering that an extra pinch can be the difference between a good and a stellar dressing!

QUICK TIP

How To Make A Lemon Vinaigrette

You won’t believe how simple this dressing is to make — all you need is a jar with a lid or a small bowl and whisk. Simply combine all the ingredients into a jar and shake until combined and emulsified or combine all the ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until combined and emulsified. It’s really that easy!

Overhead image of Lemon Vinaigrette

How To Use Lemon Vinaigrette

There is rarely an instant a batch of this Lemon Vinaigrette isn’t in my fridge. Here are some of the many ways we use it up throughout the week.

  1. On salads like this everyday garden salad, this avocado-filled Quinoa Salad, this quick and easy Lentil Salad, this tasty Sun-dried Tomato Couscous Salad
  2. As a dipping sauce for raw veggies like carrot sticks, cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, celery sticks
  3. Drizzled over roasted vegetables like roasted potatoes, roasted broccoli, roasted Brussels Sprouts, or roasted asparagus (Leave panko and Parmesan off these linked recipes and instead drizzle with this lemon vinaigrette after roasting.)
  4. On top of grilled fish or vegetables (drizzled on top right towards the end of cooking)
  5. Replace mayo-laden pasta salad dressings with this zippy-light dressing — this Chicken Pasta Salad would be delicious with this lemon dressing
  6. Use as a sandwich condiment (toss some mixed greens with the dressing and add to a loaded sandwich)
  7. Drizzle on a grain bowl with veggies and a hearty grain such as quinoa, farro, couscous, or brown rice

Process shots-- images of whisking the dressing together

Recipe Tips

  • Adjust quantities. This recipe makes a good amount of dressing — usually enough for 2-3 salads depending on their size. We love this size batch to use throughout the week, but if you aren’t sure how quickly you’ll use it, halve the recipe. It cuts down (or doubles) really well. 
  • Sweeten to taste. If you’d prefer the dressing to be more on the tangy side, reduce or omit the honey. Alternatively, if you’d like a sweeter dressing, feel free to increase the honey.
  • If you have time, make the dressing in advance. This dressing improves if it’s made in advance and chilled; the flavors meld together and intensify; plus, it’s just better chilled!
  • A few kitchen tools make recipe prep a breeze — we love zesting the lemon with a microplane and then juicing with this citrus juicer.

QUICK TIP

When zesting the lemon, avoid the white pith of the lemon — this is very bitter. Zest only the very outside yellow part of the lemon for this recipe.

Image of the Lemon Vinaigrette in a jar ready to be served

Lemon Vinaigrette FAQs

1How long does Lemon Vinaigrette last?

Stored properly in an airtight container in the fridge, Lemon Vinaigrette will stay good for 5-7 days.

Heads up: Leftover dressing will separate and may even get chunky (this is because olive oil solidifies at cold temperatures). Simply let the dressing stand at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes and then vigorously shake to re-combine. Then it’s ready to use again!

2Why does my vinaigrette taste bitter?

The perfect lemon dressing should taste bright and fresh with a healthy balance of tang and sweetness.

If the vinaigrette is bitter, it’s likely because the lemon was over-zested. The white pith right below the yellow exterior of a lemon is very bitter and will make the dressing taste bitter.

Another reason the vinaigrette could taste bitter is if the quantities are off — if too much lemon juice gets added into the dressing, it will likely be bitter. A general rule of thumb is to have equal amounts of oil with acids.

Finally, another culprit could be cheap or poor-quality vinegar.

3How do you make a vinaigrette less acidic?

If you end up with an overly acidic dressing, adding a pinch more salt can help quite a bit. You can also add some more honey to mellow out the acidity and hopefully end at a more balanced flavor.

4What is the healthiest vinaigrette dressing?

The healthiest vinaigrette is one that’s homemade. We think making your own dressing is always going to be the best — not only taste-wise but nutritionally. When making your own vinaigrette you can control exactly what goes into it and adjust for personal dietary restrictions.

5What does emulsify mean?

To emulsify is to blend two or more liquids that typically don’t mix well into one.

You know the dressing is emulsified when it no longer separates into layers but instead is one homogeneous mixture.

To emulsify this Lemon Vinaigrette, we simply shake it in a sealed jar or briskly whisk it in a bowl until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Image of the dressing over a salad

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Lemon Vinaigrette

5 from 1 vote
This zippy and tangy Lemon Vinaigrette is hands down my favorite dressing recipe! It's lively, tart with a touch of sweet, and robustly flavored. A must-have recipe in your cooking arsenal!
Print Recipe

Lemon Vinaigrette

5 from 1 vote
This zippy and tangy Lemon Vinaigrette is hands down my favorite dressing recipe! It's lively, tart with a touch of sweet, and robustly flavored. A must-have recipe in your cooking arsenal!
Course Dip, Salad, Side Dish, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Healthy
Keyword lemon vinaigrette
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1 cup of dressing (8 servings)
Calories 1070kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard Note 1
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning Note 2
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, optional
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 large lemon) (plus 1/2 teaspoon zest, optional) Note 3
  • Fine sea salt and cracked pepper

Instructions

  • COMBINE: In a wide-mouth jar, combine all the dressing ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper; I add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Briskly shake to combine and emulsify. (Don't have a jar? Briskly whisk in a bowl instead!) Check to make sure honey isn't sticking to the bottom -- whisk it into the mixture if it is. Taste and adjust dressing to personal preference.
  • STORAGE: Store in the fridge until ready to use. In an airtight container in the fridge, this dressing will stay good for 5-7 days. Heads up: Leftover dressing will separate and may even solidify a bit (this is because olive oil solidifies at cold temperatures). Simply let the dressing stand at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes and then vigorously shake to re-combine. Then it's ready to use again!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Mustard: We love Grey Poupon® Dijon best. Make sure to use Dijon, not yellow mustard. There’s a big flavor difference!
Note 2: Italian seasoning:  Or replace with 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 teaspoon dried basil!
Note 3: Lemons: A few kitchen tools make recipe prep a breeze -- we love zesting the lemon with a microplane and then juicing with this citrus juicer. When zesting the lemon, avoid the white pith of the lemon — this is very bitter. Zest only the very outside yellow part of the lemon for this recipe.
Note 4: Nutrition information is for the entire recipe. Lemon Vinaigrette has about 130 calories per tablespoon.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 1070kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 109g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Monounsaturated Fat: 80g | Sodium: 350mg | Potassium: 169mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 65IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 2mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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