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Keep a jar of this basic, versatile, perfectly balanced balsamic shallot vinaigrette in your fridge at all times. Readily accessible salad dressing makes eating lots of greens easy and enjoyable.

balsamic shallot vinaigrette in a small pitcher with a spoon
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Why we love this recipe

I have a short list of go-to salad dressings, and there’s a jar of at least one of them in the fridge pretty much all the time. When we want a classic dressing that complements a wide variety of greens and salad styles, I opt for our much-beloved balsamic shallot vinaigrette.

We love that:

  • You can shake it up in a little jam jar and store it in the fridge
  • It tastes a little bit nuanced even though it’s made with simple ingredients that are easy to keep on hand
  • You can use it on the most delicate of lettuces and the punchiest of dark leafy greens
  • Having it on hand helps us eagerly eat more salad

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Shallots vary dramatically in size these days. You can use as much or as little as you like in this recipe. I recommend about 1/4 cup minced, from one diminutive shallot.
  • Balsamic vinegar provides sweetness and an earthy depth of flavor. For both the balsamic and red wine vinegars, a midpriced option is perfectly fine. This dressing will taste great even when you don’t break the bank on fancy ingredients. Save the fancy balsamic for drizzling.
  • Red wine vinegar adds a pleasant acidity and a floral note.
  • A reasonable extra-virgin olive oil from the supermarket is a good choice. The flavor will definitely come through, so choose something that you like. But there’s no need to tote out your fancy unfiltered versions with the perfect level of astringency.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a beautiful batch of balsamic shallot vinaigrette. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Find a lidded jar to dedicate to your dressing. You can use a recycled jam jar that holds at least 12 ounces, or a pint-sized mason jar. Mince a small shallot and add it to the jar.
  2. Pour in the two vinegars. Let the shallot marinate in the vinegar for a couple minutes. It doesn’t take long at all for the vinegar to mellow the bite of the shallot.
  3. Add the salt, sugar, pepper, mustard, and olive oil.
  4. Screw the lid onto the jar and shake it up until the dressing is emulsified. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

Can I experiment with different vinegars?

Sure thing. White balsamic and white wine or champagne vinegar make a nice combination. We also like half sherry vinegar and half red wine vinegar, half red wine vinegar and half apple cider vinegar, half red wine or cider vinegar and half freshly squeezed lemon juice. Experiment as much as you like with this basic, winning formula and find your own favorites.

Do I really need to add the sugar?

A pinch of sugar rounds out the flavor and helps make less expensive balsamic taste more expensive. Instead of the sugar, you can sub in honey, maple syrup, agave, or another sweetener of your choice if you like. You can also leave it out entirely if you’d prefer.

Can I alter the ingredient ratios?

If you like a very tangy dressing, you can use a little less oil without making any other changes. Don’t use more oil, though, or the dressing will have a hard time emulsifying.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

For sure. This dressing keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a week. Olive oil can solidify when chilled, so you may want to let it come to room temperature or pop it into the microwave for 10 seconds or so before using.

More favorite salad dressings

balsamic shallot vinaigrette in a small pitcher with a spoon

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balsamic shallot vinaigrette in a small pitcher with a spoon
4.35 from 23 votes

Balsamic Shallot Vinaigrette

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This balsamic shallot vinaigrette is simple yet nuanced, extremely versatile, perfectly balanced, and easy to keep on hand. Having a jar in the fridge makes it easy to eat your leafy greens. It works equally well on tender lettuces and assertive dark leafy greens like arugula and dandelion.
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 12
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Ingredients 

  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (7 grams) dijon mustard
  • ½ cup (118 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions 

  • Place the shallot, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar into the jar and stir to ensure shallot is covered with vinegar. Let the shallot marinate for a few minutes (two to five is enough) to let the vinegar work its magic and take the bite out of the shallots.
  • Add the salt, sugar, pepper, mustard, and olive oil to the jar.
  • Close the lid and shake well until dressing is completely emulsified.

Step-by-step video

Notes

  1. Instead of sugar, you can use honey, maple syrup, agave, or another sweetener of your choice. These will change the flavor profile, and we prefer the simplicity of a pinch of sugar — but it's up to you. You can also leave the sugar out entirely if you like. We find it rounds out the flavor enough to be worth it.
  2. For both the balsamic and the red wine vinegar, you can use a midpriced option. You don't need anything super-fancy to make this dressing taste great. You can also swap in other vinegars if you like. White balsamic pairs well with champagne or white wine vinegar. Or use half red wine vinegar and half lemon juice. Play around with the basic formula as much as you like to create your favorite combinations.
  3. You can also adjust the ratio of oil to vinegar. 2:1 is standard and yields a nice, balanced dressing. But if you like things tangier, you can decrease the oil a bit without changing anything else. Adding a higher percentage of oil would break the emulsion, so I don't recommend doing that.
  4. Emulsifying means, essentially, getting the vinegar (which is water-based) and the oil to stay blended together even though they're not really supposed to. Vigorous shaking emulsifies this dressing, and the mustard helps it stay that way for a while. Give it a good shake before using.
  5. The dressing is ready to use right away and will keep well in a nice cold fridge for a week or two. If it solidifies in the fridge (as olive oil can do at colder temperatures), bring to room temperature before using. Or pop the lidless jar into the microwave for about 10 seconds and give it a stir to hasten the process if you like.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 86kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Sodium: 106mg, Sugar: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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