The Vinaigrette Ratio

Michael Ruhlman on how to make 3 variations of a classic vinaigrette salad dressing following a 3 to 1 oil to vinegar ratio.

Method

3 Sherry Vinegar-based Vinaigrettes

Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette

This is a great all-purpose vinaigrette for salads, sliced tomatoes or other raw vegetables.

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine the vinegar, shallot, salt and pepper. Give it a stir with a whisk or fork to soften the shallot then drizzle the oil in while whisking.

Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette

This is a little heartier than the above, can be used to dress greens, whole vegetables and would make a lovely sauce drizzled over lean white fish.

  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp minced shallot
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons whole grain or Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp minced tarragon

Combine the vinegar, shallot, salt, pepper, and mustard. Give it a stir with a whisk or fork to soften the shallot then drizzle the oil in while whisking. Stir in the tarragon just before serving.

Gribiche Vinaigrette

Gribiche is traditionally mayonnaise based, but I like it as a vinaigrette better. It makes a wonderful sauce for roasted pork loin, or any pork preparation. Last week I used it to dress a salad of pancetta lardons and arugula. It's hearty and packed with ingredients.

  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp minced shallot
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain or Dijon mustard
  • 6 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced tarragon
  • 1 hard cooked egg, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cornichons
  • 2 teaspoons capers, roughly chopped

Combine the vinegar, shallot, salt, pepper, and mustard. Give it a stir with a whisk or fork to soften the shallot then drizzle the oil in while whisking. Stir in the tarragon, egg, cornichons and capers.

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Comments

  1. jonathan

    re: Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette (#2)
    I’m guessing 1 tsp. of mustard?
    (See? I’m just like your father, Elise)

    Fixed! That’s what one gets for posting at 2 am. ~Elise

  2. ruhlman

    Thank you, jonathan, and several others for pointing out that I have omitted the mustard in the mustard tarragon vinaigrette. That would make it simply a tarragon vinaigrette! Please add 1 to 2 teaspoons whole grain or Dijon mustard to the vinegar before adding the oil. This would be as wonderful with roast chicken as with a salad. I love vinaigrettes with roasted meats.

  3. B.Swetnam

    What a great idea for a book. I can never remember the ratio’s. I’m making the Gribiche-Vinaigrette to serve with a pork roast tonight, it sounds wonderful Michael the very best of luck with your book.

  4. Hank

    I’m guessing the mustard listed in the Gribiche Vinaigaette should be mayonaisse since you say it’s supposed to be mayonaisse based?

  5. ruhlman

    Hank, I meant that gribiche in its traditional form is mayonnaise based, but that I am using traditional gribiche ingredients for a vinaigrette. recipe is correct.

  6. jonathan

    My thoughts exactly, Michael. There’s just something about tarragon and chicken. And eggs. Anything poultry, for that matter.
    (How very French of me…)

  7. Kalyn

    Absolutely love the sound of that tarragon-mustard vinaigrette, and as I have an over-abundance of tarragon in my garden (well, soon anyway!) I look forward to making it. Fresh tarragon freezes quite well too, so I could make this all winter. (Freeze on the stems in a plastic bag, and the frozen leaves will mostly fall off by themselves.) Thanks, and nice to see you on Simply Recipes Michael.

  8. Peter

    Although very basic (3 to 1 ratio), I still see people screw up salad dressings…like 3 to 1 vinegar to oil!

    I use a jar, some mustard for emulsifying and eyeball it. Works everytime.

  9. Mariam

    Thank you for the Ratio Bible, Michael, and thank you Elise for bringing it to us. Just wanted to let you know that I find it easier to do salad dressing in a jam jar ( versus bowl and whisk) – measure ingredients into the jar, screw lid on, shake. I keep this jar of basic vinaigrette ( oil, vinegar,salt&pepper) in the fridge, and then shake well and pour what I need into a smaller jar, to which I then add cappers, chopped egg, Dijon mustard – whatever the salad of the day calls for – shake the smaller jar and pour over salad. This way I don’t have to start from scratch every single time. I cannot part with empty jam jars, have them in all sizes and shapes, need to put them to good use.

  10. Kristen

    I think that most people do not know how easy it is to make their own. After doing it for years I don’t measure. I make it in the bowl then add the salad to toss. We eat salad everyday and I don’t think that it takes me more than 1 minute to put the whole thing together.

  11. Vivian

    I can’t wait to try the Gribiche Vinaigrette. I love that all of these recipes have shallots because they are just about taking over my overgrown garden. I will definitely give all a try.

  12. Kate

    I remember being frustrated for a long time because I couldn’t get my salad dressing to taste like the ubiquitous salad dressing of France — creamy, tart, a little mustardy. Then I read Simca’s Cuisine by Simone Beck (the cowriter of Mastering the Art of French Cooking) and discovered the 3:1 ratio and it suddenly began to make sense. My standard dressing now is 1 part Dijon mustard to 1 part red wine vinegar to 3 parts good olive oil, and it tastes exactly like the vinaigrette I’ve had in France.

    I really enjoyed the book, BTW.

  13. Debo Hobo

    This very helpful, I often find myself not sure what ration to use so then I end up adding a little more acid or a little more oil and then end up with way more than I needed.

    I like to use different ingredients as well like orange juice or grapefruit juice.

  14. Traci in Texas

    Back in the day …. there were only a couple “store bought” dressings available (Thank you, Kraft!?) so my family always made their own dressings. My Mother was the Queen of Invention and we had some very interesting concoctions! :)

    It’s nice to realize that some people still prefer to make their own dressings! I do on occasion.

    Thanks for the reminder that I need to break out the quart jar and get the basics assembled!

    Love the site; keep it up!
    Hugs from Texas!
    T

  15. Alex D.

    Is there any reason in particular that you whisk in the oil? I’ve recently started making my own salad dressings and usually do it in a jar or cruet. That way I can give it a good shake, and emulsify the mixture in a second or two.

    Plus, it’s already in it’s storage container= less things to clean.

  16. unconfidentialcook

    In Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, written decades ago, she had a recipe for her favorite vinaigrette and it was just this ration: six T oil to 2 T vinegar. That’s the basis for any vinaigrette I make.

  17. Anne

    When I studied in Paris for a semester in college, I remember being rather confused when looking for salad dressings at the supermarche. There weren’t any pre-made dressings in the entire store. That’s when I first learned to make a vinagrette, as my options were either to learn how or eat dry salad! What a valuable experience.

  18. WheatFreeMeatFree

    I do so enjoy mustard vinaigrettes.

    I’ve been waiting for your book for quite a while now Mr. Ruhlman. I’m so glad it’s finally out so I can go purchase a copy.

    -Kalinda

  19. Haley W.

    This is wonderful – I love the purpose of teaching the fundamentals of vinaigrette beyond just giving a recipes. Thank you! And thank you, Elise, also!

  20. Glitterati

    Great post! I used to buy bottled dressings, but never ever used more than like 1/6 of the bottle before I forgot about it. Much easier and economical to make my own.

    A genius tip I learned from a friend the other day — recycle those small plastic vanilla extract bottles (cleaned, of course) to bring salad dressing for bagged lunches. Holds just the right amount, doesn’t leak, and if it starts to get really gunky, just toss it. You could even mix the dressing in there to begin with. Brilliant!

  21. Melissa

    Thanks for the correction because I definitely want to make the mustard tarragon. I have just just just decided recently, like last week, that I was going to try making all homemade condiments. Mayonnaise and ketchup have been done and now I’m on to salad dressing. Thanks for the posting Michael, and thank you Elise for having him!

  22. Lisa

    Thank you for a very useful “tool” for making vinaigrette. I was spending tons of money on dressing, it had gotten to the point where everyone in my family had a different favorite, and we occassionally had more bottles of dressing on the table than people at the table. Then one day I tossed greens with a mixture of oil, balsamic, salt and pepper…and everyone claimed it their new favorite! I’m looking forward to trying out these and making more of my own concoctions.

  23. ruhlman

    I meant to add yesterday, in response to a question, a note on how long these keep. If you add shallot or herbs, they’ll only keep for a day before they develop a hint of off-ness. But, you can make a vinaigrette base of 3 to 1 oil to vinegar, salt and some mustard that will keep for a week. That way, you can make a cup or a cup and a half of vinaigrette base on monday and simply add your garnish, minced shallot, say, or herbs, to the quantity you want to use tonight and keep the rest to use throughout the week.

  24. Amy Scott

    What do you do about polyunsaturateds that solidify when refrigerated (ie.olive oil)? I love to use olive oil as a base but not sure what to do after it solidifies: heat it up or let it sit on the counter.

    Thanks for the excellent post!

  25. avvikande

    Couple of questions… I presume minced tarragon is fresh but if only dried is available, is the quantity the same? Also, I can’t find sherry vinegar anywhere, and not for lack of searching. I’m using red wine vinegar instead, and it seems to taste fine to me, is there much of a difference between red wine and sherry vinegar?

    Thanks in advance, and thanks for the wonderful post – my salad last night was heavenly!

  26. ruhlman

    Amy Scott: just let olive oil dressing sit out till room temp or give them a quick zap in microwave.

    avvikande: i wouldn’t use dried herbs in a vinaigrette. the quality varies and to me they taste stale. though you can use if you wish.

    And a good red wine vinegar works just as well!

  27. momio

    Made a tomato, fresh basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, dijon mustard, blk pepper vinaigrette. How long will this keep in my fridge?

    Probably just a few days, because of the tomato and fresh basil. ~Elise

  28. Emile

    Dear Michael,
    I am sorry, but this is the classical recipe for the Gribiche sauce :

    chop the yellow part of an had-boiled egg in a bowl.
    add some drop of lemon juice or vinegar. it will dissolve this yellow part and make a paste (mash it with a fork). Use only the necesary quantity of lemon juice or vinegar to dissolve, so pour it drop by drop.
    At this very point, you can add Dijon mustard, but it is not necessary.
    Drizzle the oil in while whisking.
    You can add the chopped white part of the egg, then. And eventually herbs if you like.

  29. Marc Chambaud

    I am currently doing a set of videos and preparing a small cooking book for the chinese market about how to prepare a dressing and how to make various types of salad. It is very interesting as naturally I use this base for all my salad dressing(I am french so I guess this is part of my heritage). Thanks for the great info. I personally like a more sharp vinaigrette with a tomato based salad as somehow the tomato tend to reduce teh acidity sensation and if you like to sauce the dressign with bread this way it is usually delicious. with Carrot you can go extra healthy with just Shallots and lime juice. THIS IS DELICIOUS and 0% fat. to ruhlman. We usually let the dressing outside in a closed container so it does not solidify and if we put it in the fridge. we take the dressing out 15-30 min before the lunch/dinner time.

  30. Muse Gourmet

    Michael,
    Thank you for the thoughtful post. I’ve never considered explaining cooking technique in terms of ratios before, but it makes perfect sense. What a marvelous idea for a book! Have you considered self publishing for the Kindle? Just a thought. I keep all of my recipes electronically and have commented on the need for more Kindle cookbooks. No color yet, but it’s on the way.