How to Make a Simple and Satisfying Vinaigrette

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Now that summer is here, nothing beats a simple lunch of freshly picked baby lettuces tossed with homemade vinaigrette. A straightforward yet well-made vinaigrette is what makes a boring bland salad into a scrumptious one. And it’s probably easier than you think. Follow these easy instructions and have yourself your own homemade dressing in no time.

imageStep 1: It’s important to start with topnotch ingredients. There are only a few items in vinaigrette so make them count.


imageStep 2: Add a smidge of mustard to a small bowl. This not only adds a bit of flavor but also is the key in an emulsified dressing. (Emulsifying means combining two liquids that do not combine together like oil and vinegar.) The mustard helps join the oil and vinegar together into one smooth liquid.


imagePaula also likes to use a small smidge of mayonnaise, which also has emulsifying properties. She likes the touch of creaminess it adds to the dressing.


imageStep 3: Next add your vinegar or acid. If making a lemon vinaigrette (like we’re showcasing here) use freshly squeezed lemon juice.


imageWhisk it to combine with the Dijon and mayonnaise.


imageStep 4: Very slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking. Do this slowly so the oil and lemon juice become completely combined.


imageStep 5: Season the dressing with salt and pepper. If you want, this is when you would add your herbs or other seasonings.


imageStep 6: Dress your greens only just before serving. You don’t want the vinaigrette to weigh down your greens.


Step 7: Enjoy!

Now that you’ve mastered the simple vinaigrette, try adding a few of these ingredients to make your own unique dressing:
+Try different kinds of citrus or vinegars such as balsamic, red wine, white wine, or apple cider vinegar.
+Fresh chopped herbs like dill, parsley, thyme, or basil
+Minced garlic
+Minced onion or shallot
+Add a pinch of sugar for a subtle sweetness
+ Add a pinch of spices like cumin or paprika to give your dressing a distinct flavor profile.

1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon (about 4 tablespoons lemon juice)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Add Dijon and mayonnaise to a small bowl. Add lemon juice and whisk together. Slowly stream in olive oil while whisking. Continue whisking until emulsified. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

MAKES ¾ cup

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Reader Comments:


I love your recipes! ♥ They are so down home!! It re-mines me of my momma and just how much I do miss her and her good cooking. Thank-you and keep that lovely smile smile Alexis

By Alexis Schrader on November 05, 2013


Paula. Jamie made a salad dressing on his show that had a mayo base.Then he add soe blue cheese I would love this recipe Thanks Carol Ernest

By Carol Ernest on April 18, 2013


I love watching all your shows, and your sons show as well.I have learn to cook a lot of different food, thanks and keep up the good work, we love you all.

By mickie on April 18, 2013


Paula, It was so hard to move so far away, but I took you with me! When we arrived in Germany, I was so sad, and had a TINY kitchen. The movers kept bringing in boxes, with no where to put anything. I started to unpack not knowing where it would all go. My eyes filled with tears, and my 19 year old son said, "Hey, look Mom... you have a friend here!" He said, "Look, it's Paula!!!" There in the top of the box was your "Friends" cookbook. It was such a comfort from home. We Love You!

By Jennifer Turk on June 07, 2012


So yummy!!!

By Anonymous on June 06, 2012


Hey, Paula! I watch your TV show at every opportunity. As one who loves to cook (especially from scratch), at age 74+ I find I'm still learning something new nearly every day, often from you. You make cooking fun and interesting, and you appear to be very natural and unpretentious...that's why you're so popular!

By Carol Starkey on June 06, 2012


question: Your call this a vinaigrette dressing but I was copying this and where is the vinegar in this recipe. thank you

By Barbara Szemanski on June 05, 2012


I love the lemon & mustard, salad dressing. It is great. Thanks

By jeannie on June 02, 2012


Sounds so good can't wait to try it

By Anonymous on June 01, 2012


Love your recipes and your cooking show's1

By Linda Helton on June 01, 2012


Paula I love your Southern Cooking, it reminds me of South African traditional soul foods. Thank you for such beautiful recipes and a great show. We watch it religiously. I love your show!!!!!!! God bless and take care.

By Sheilla Dunn on May 31, 2012

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm