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This basil vinaigrette dressing is bright and sweet with a big flavor. Loaded with tons of fresh basil, sweet balsamic vinegar, and brightened up with lemon. This easy dressing can be used on salad or as a marinade.
Making my own salad dressings really changed my salad game! I’m more likely to add a salad to my meal when there is a delicious homemade dressing and prepped salad greens in the fridge.
Use this lemon basil vinaigrette on a simple salad, for a marinade for chicken, or in place of balsamic reduction in a caprese salad. For more dressing recipes, try Homemade Cajun Ranch or Spicy Cajun Garlic Aioli.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Simple ingredients. This simple vinaigrette is made with minimal ingredients.
- Bold and bright flavors. This dressing is packed with tons of bright basil flavor balanced by the tang and sweetness of balsamic vinegar.
- No preservatives. Store bought dressings are full of added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, and preservatives. Making your own salad dressings is a great way to help control what goes into your food.
- Versatile. It's not just for salads! You can use this basil balsamic vinaigrette as a marinade for chicken, fish, or pork.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Fresh basil leaves - Pick leaves and remove stems. I usually use one pack from Trader Joe’s and it’s the perfect amount. If you have other leftover fresh herbs, you can throw some in too, like fresh thyme or parsley.
- Shallot - Works better than an onion for this recipe since shallots have a milder flavor.
- Fresh garlic - Smashed and peeled. Don’t substitute for jarred garlic.
- Balsamic vinegar - I’ve made this dressing with both regular balsamic vinegar and white balsamic vinegar, and both are delicious.
- Extra-virgin olive oil - With vinaigrettes, it’s important to use good quality olive oil since you’ll really be tasting it.
See the recipe card below for full list of ingredients and measurements.
How to make basil balsamic vinaigrette
STEP ONE: PREP
Trim ends off shallot, peel, and cut into quarters. Smash and peel garlic. Add to the food processor.
STEP TWO: PULSE
Add basil, shallot, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice to food processor. Pulse to chop.
STEP THREE: DRIZZLE
Turn food processor on and slowly drizzle the olive oil, until the dressing is well blended.
STEP FOUR: SEASON
Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Toss with your favorite salad, or use as a marinade.
You can also make this dressing with an immersion blender. Add all ingredients to a container, and blend until desired consistency.
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- Balsamic vinegar is usually sweet, but if your dressing is lacking sweetness, add a little bit of honey or maple syrup.
- The flavor of shallots in this dressing is pretty mild and mellowed out by the vinegar, but you can omit the shallot or use half if you don’t like the flavor.
- White balsamic or regular balsamic vinegar both work well in this recipe.
- I like my dressing with a little texture to it, but you can blend this as smooth as you want it to be.
How to store leftovers: Store homemade vinaigrette leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. The oil may harden in the refrigerator. Before using, let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then shake vigorously to reincorporate the ingredients.
- Serve as a salad dressing for a simple spinach and arugula salad with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella pearls.
- Drizzle over a caprese salad in place of balsamic reduction.
- It makes a great marinade for chicken, fish, or pork.
- Use as a dipping oil for fresh crusty bread.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you don’t have a food processor, you could also use a blender or immersion blender. If you have neither, chop basil, garlic, and shallot as finely as possible. Add all ingredients to a jar and shake vigorously until all incorporated.
Since this recipe has so much fresh basil flavor, I don’t recommend swapping fresh for dried basil.
I love the taste of fresh garlic in a salad dressing, but if you need to, you can swap the garlic clove for about ⅛ a teaspoon of garlic powder.
Yes, you can easily double this recipe to make a larger batch. Follow the same steps and storage instructions.
More sauce and dressing recipes
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Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Food processor or immersion blender
- silicone spatula
- Mason jar or airtight glass container
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves packed, about 1 ½ ounces
- 1 small shallot peeled, root end trimmed, quartered
- 1 garlic clove smashed and peeled
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- PREP: Trim root and stem end off shallot and peel. Cut into quarters. Smash and peel a clove of garlic. Measure out other ingredients.
- PULSE: Add basil, shallot, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice to a food processor with a pinch of salt. Pulse about 10 times to chop up large pieces, then scrape down the sides of the processor cup. Pulse again about 5 more times.
- DRIZZLE: Turn the food processor on and slowly drizzle the olive oil. Process until the dressing is well blended and all of the olive oil is incorporated.
- SEASON: Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Store in a glass jar and shake again before serving.
- Makes about 1 cup of dressing, or 8 two tablespoon servings.
- If using an immersion blender, add ingredients to a container and blend with the immersion blender to desired smoothness.
- Storage directions: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. The oil may harden in the refrigerator. Before using, let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then shake vigorously to reincorporate the ingredients.
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