This lemon vinaigrette recipe is so good on everything from salads to meat to grilled veggies! It’s so zippy and citrus-y!
I’m so happy to be bringing you this lemon vinaigrette recipe today!
I’ve been wanting to get it down “on paper” for such a long time.
It’s one of those things that’s just so simple, but adds so much!
Table of Contents
- What is lemon vinaigrette?
- What’s great about this recipe
- What does this lemon vinaigrette recipe taste like?
- Special equipment
- How to make a lemon vinaigrette dressing
- How to serve this lemon vinaigrette dressing recipe
- Expert tips
- Frequently asked questions
- A few more of my favorite topping recipes
What is lemon vinaigrette?
A vinaigrette is basically just a blend of something tart and acidic with oil and seasonings.
This one is made with lemon as the acid, so it’s got the sunniest, warm, and bright flavor.
It’s beautifully tangy, with a hint of sweetness, some lovely savory seasonings including garlic and herbs, and thick, so it really coats whatever your drizzling it on or dipping in.
What’s great about this recipe
- Tastes amazing: The sunny, citrusy flavor will make your lips pucker!
- Few ingredients: You only need a handful of basics to make it.
- Easy to make: It comes together in 5 minutes or less.
- Versatile: It’s great on everything from salads to meats to grilled veggies. You can even use it as a marinade!
What does this lemon vinaigrette recipe taste like?
This recipe is very lemon forward! The first thing you’ll notice when you take a taste is that wonderfully aromatic lemon flavor.
Next you’ll notice the hint of sweetness. It’s such a nice counterpoint to the natural acidity.
And finally, savory garlic, herbs, and black pepper come in. The balance of tart, sweet, and savory brings perfect harmony.
You’ll only need a few basic ingredients to make this flavor bomb of a topping!
You’ll need both the zest and the juice.
Honey and lemon make a perfect pairing!
Honey helps the vinaigrette to be thicker so it can coat the lettuce, or whatever you’re using this on.
It also provides the necessary sweetness to balance out the tart citrus.
Dijon is made from mustard seeds blended with white wine, so it has a flavor unlike anything else!
This ingredient will help your lemon dressing to emulsify smoothly, and not separate as it sits.
Either smooth or grainy Dijon will work, but I prefer the smooth kind.
You could also use fresh basil if you like, for a lemon basil vinaigrette!
I like extra-virgin olive oil best because of its full, robust flavor. It really works so well with lemon!
That said, you can use any type of oil you like.
This one is optional, but I really like the sweet, juicy pops you get with a little finely minced shallot.
Shallot is similar to onion, but sweeter and milder.
As the shallot sits in the acidic mixture, it almost pickles, and the sharp bite really mellows out a ton.
Here are the tools you’ll need to make this.
- Measuring cups and spoons: To measure out the ingredients.
- Small bowl, cup, or jar: In which to mix up the dressing.
- Microplane zester: This will remove the zest from the lemon.
- Citrus juicer: To juice the lemon.
- Whisk: To blend all the ingredients together. Or use a hand blender for an ultra-smooth emulsion.
- Cutting board and knife: So you can mince up the shallot.
How to make a lemon vinaigrette dressing
This dressing comes together in just 3 simple steps!
Step 1: Blend everything but the oil and shallot
Start by zesting the lemon.
Slide the zest into a small bowl, cup, or jar, along with the honey, Dijon, and seasonings.
And stir in the lemon juice.
Step 2: Add the oil
Pour the oil in, in a very slow, thin stream, while whisking vigorously.
The slower the oil goes in, and the harder you whisk, the smoother your lemon vinaigrette will be. Ideally, it will be completely homogenous and the oil will not separate out or float to the surface.
I really like to use a hand blender for this step! It’s so powerful it works in a matter of seconds.
Step 3: Add shallot
Drop in a little finely minced shallot.
This ingredient is completely optional! You don’t have to use it if you don’t want to. But I really like the added sweetness and subtle texture it brings.
How to serve this lemon vinaigrette dressing recipe
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is just a salad dressing!
While it does work beautifully for dressing fresh greens or cold pasta, it’s just as good as a sauce or marinade for meat, fish, or poultry.
And a drizzle over grilled vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, or brussels sprouts is total heaven!
Fresh is best: Nothing beats the taste of freshly squeezed lemon juice! The bottled stuff will work in a pinch, but the flavor of fresh is just off the charts.
Go slow with the oil: The more slowly you add the oil, and the more vigorously you whisk, the better chance you’ll have of achieving a smooth emulsion that doesn’t separate.
Use a hand blender: A hand blender makes quick work of things. It’s so powerful your vinaigrette will be made in seconds, and so perfectly smooth!
Make it your own: Use a different kind of acid such as lime, grapefruit, or orange, in place of the lemon. Try a different herb like rosemary, thyme, or herbes de Provence. Or a different kind of oil like coconut oil, avocado oil, or walnut oil. All of these different options enable you to create endless flavor combinations!
Frequently asked questions
Why does my vinaigrette keep separating?
It can be really tricky to get oil to blend with other, more watery ingredients. You really have to whisk hard, and add the oil slow.
A machine such as a hand blender makes this so much easier.
But the fact is, a dressing that you have to shake up before drizzling on is still really tasty!
Why did mine get hardened around the edges?
When you put this in the fridge, the olive oil tends to solidify from the cold. This is totally fine! It won’t hurt you and it will smooth back out as it comes up to room temperature.
What is the serving size?
The nutritional info in the recipe card below is for 2 tablespoons of lemon vinaigrette. You should get about 5 servings out of the whole recipe.
PS- this recipe doubles or even triples easily, if you want a bigger batch!
How should it be stored?
Stashing this in the fridge will extend its shelf life to around a week or two.
You can freeze it, but it will lose a little of its vibrant flavor. In the freezer it should last for a couple of months, and it can be thawed in the fridge or at room temperature.
A few more of my favorite topping recipes
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- 1 teaspoon (2 g) lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons (42 g) honey
- 2 teaspoons (10 g) Dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon (4.5 g) kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (1.5 g) garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup (54 g) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 (12.5 g) shallot, finely minced (optional)
- Place the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, Dijon, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and pepper in a bowl, jar, or cup, and whisk to combine.
- In a very slow, steady stream, whisk in the oil (or blend it in with a hand blender for a smooth emulsion).
- Stir in finely minced shallot, if desired.