Liven Up Your Salads with Homemade Dressing

Vinaigrette and ingredients, salad dressing with oil, vinegar and mustard
istetiana/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Salads are a fantastic way to eat the vibrant-colored produce hanging out in the fridge, and most of us like a little dressing to enhance the flavors. I know I do. But I also want to feel good about what I am putting on my salad. For me, good nutrition is not just what I won’t eat or eat less often, but what I choose to eat — choosing nourishing ingredients.

Store-bought dressings can be loaded with unwanted ingredients — added sugar, excessive sodium, preservatives and artificial colors. A close look at the nutrition label can help you choose which ones you use to dress your favorite salad veggies. Or, you can make your own! Making salad dressing might seem a bit intimidating at first, but it is truly foolproof and, if it doesn’t taste right, you can always tweak it. The best part is that it takes less than five minutes and only requires a few ingredients.

This recipe for Sweet and Tangy Balsamic Vinaigrette is the perfect foundation. You can use different flavored vinegars — apple cider or red wine or even flavored vinegars such as raspberry, blackberry or black cherry — and dried or fresh herbs to tweak it to reflect your tastes. Begin by adding a ¼ teaspoon vinegar, then taste and adjust to your liking. To sample your dressing, use a small leaf of lettuce so it doesn’t taste too strong. If you find that it is a bit too tangy, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Remember, a really good dressing is meant to enhance the flavor of the vegetables, not cover them up.

The recipe makes seven servings. Not sure what to do with leftover dressing? Here are three yummy ideas:

  • Use as a marinade for chicken or pork.
  • Toss a few tablespoons on fresh vegetables and then roast in oven on 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Add to a cold salad of quinoa or other whole grain, chick peas and fresh vegetables to liven it up!

Sweet and Tangy Balsamic Vinaigrette Liven Up Your Salads with Homemade Dressing -

Makes 7 servings — 2 tablespoons per serving


  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar (look for “aged” for best flavor)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2½ tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mason jar with lid and shake well. Store in refrigerator for up to five days.
Jennifer Hunt on FacebookJennifer Hunt on Instagram
Jennifer Hunt
Jennifer Hunt, RDN, LD, is a nutrition communications dietitian whose joy and passion is to empower women to live healthy, vibrant lives. She loves sharing real-life strategies to choosing nourishing foods, making delicious, easy recipes and loving the woman in the mirror. Read her blog, Healthy Inspiration, and connect with her on Facebook.