My Favorite Italian Vinaigrette

Mar 8, 2024 · By Bethany Kramer
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Compliment your Italian salads with this herbaceous Italian vinaigrette that includes fresh Parmigiano Reggiano. There is no need to buy store-bought dressings once you’ve made this delicious and zingy dressing! It comes together in minutes and goes great with any salad.

A mason jar with Italian vinaigrette dressing and a spoon in it. Around the jar is small blocks of parmigiano reggiano cheese and fresh basil leaves. The jar is sitting on a wooden board with a tan-texture background displaying behind the jar.

One of the things I often recommend people make from scratch is salad dressings! They’re easy to make, cost-effective, and taste far better than any store-bought salad dressing. Plus, the ingredients are a lot cleaner!

My go-to for almost any salad is this incredible Italian vinaigrette. It’s zingy, herbaceous, and has a touch of richness from fresh Parmigiano Reggiano. It’s the dressing of all dressings and will make even a simple bed of greens sing with amazingly fresh flavor!

What’s a vinaigrette?

“Vinaigrette” is a fancy term for a salad dressing or marinade that combines olive oil and a vinegar together! The flavors can be enhanced by seasoning with salt & pepper and adding other ingredients such as fresh herbs, spices, citrus zest and juice, and/or mustard.

Ingredients

Ingredients for Italian vinaigrette displayed in small bowls or left whole sitting on a wooden boarded background.

See the recipe card below for the complete list of ingredients and measurements.

Olive oil – quality extra virgin olive oil is needed for the base of the dressing. Having the right balance of fat also helps the dressing not be too watery.
Vinegar – Red wine vinegar is used to add tang and acidity.
Parmigiano Reggiano – adds richness and a great salty flavor! Freshly grated is recommended.
Dried oregano – for herby flavor. I like to use Sicilian dried oregano!
Fresh basil – adds freshness and a hint of green color to the whole dressing.
Garlic – fresh garlic cloves are great, but you can also use garlic powder.
Sweetness – to balance the acidity of the vinegar, I like to add a natural sweetener like honey. You can also use maple syrup.
Salt & pepper – to enhance all the flavors in the dressing. The pepper also adds a slight kick!

How to Make Italian Vinaigrette

  1. 1

    Add the ingredients to a blender or food processor. Add all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a food processor or high-powered blender.

  2. 2

    Blend. Cover and blend for about 10 seconds until everything comes together and is mostly creamy. Taste, adjust with salt& pepper if needed, then serve!

A collage of two photos showing how to make Italian vinaigrette in a blender. The first photo is step one showing the ingredients left whole in the blender container. The second photo is step two showing the vinaigrette ingredients blended and creamy.
Recipe Variations

Leave out the cheese – if you’re intolerant to dairy leave the cheese out of this recipe. It will still be delicious! We just recommend tasting and adjusting the dressing with a pinch more salt if needed to make up for the cheese flavor.

Switch up the herbs – Even though I love fresh basil, you can also swap it for fresh parsley! But only fresh herbs, not dried (except for the oregano).

Change the cheese – instead of Parmigiano Reggiano, you can also use fresh pecorino romano.

Other vinegars you can use – although I think Italian vinaigrette is best with red wine vinegar, you can also swap it for white balsamic, citrus vinegar, or fresh lemon juice. This will change the flavor profiles of the vinaigrette, but they are more mild than others.

Add some dijon – a popular ingredient in some Italian vinaigrettes is a dash of dijon mustard. It adds tang and emulsifies the dressing more! I recommend only 1/2 to 1 teaspoon otherwise it tastes too mustard-y.

A spoon in a jar showing Italian dressing in it. Around the jar is a block of parmigiano reggiano cheese and fresh basil leaves, while everything is displayed on a wooden board.

Tips for Success

Blending the dressing – we love using a blender or food processor to blend the ingredients seamlessly, making for a creamier consistency. But if these tools are unavailable, you can whisk the ingredients in a bowl rather than blending!

Quality olive oil is essential – I only recommend using quality extra virgin olive oil for any homemade dressing. It will bring balanced flavor and a ton of nourishing benefits, too!

Keep it in a tightly sealed jar – I always store my salad dressings and vinaigrettes in mason jars or any jar that seals tightly with a lid. This helps preserve the dressing so the flavors and ingredients stay fresh.

How long it lasts – this vinaigrette can be refrigerated for 7 days. If no cheese is in the dressing, keep it at room temperature for 10 days.

Use a basil cube instead of fresh basil – if you’ve made our fresh basil cubes, I love to utilize these in this dressing during the winter months! Let the cube thaw in the dressing jar at room temperature for about 1 hour before using.

Stir the vinaigrette before using – even though this recipe is blended well, it’s still recommended to stir the ingredients if the vinaigrette has sat for a while. This will ensure the flavor is just right, with all the flavors balanced in each drizzle for serving!

Salads to Pair With

This dressing can be served with many different salads! But our favorites are Italian salad, Tuscan artichoke salad, or a pasta salad such as our Italian pasta salad or this bowtie pasta salad.

A hand using a spoon to stir Italian vinaigrette dressing in a mason jar. The jar has parmigiano reggiano cheese blocks and fresh basil leaves displayed around it. The jar and other condiments are sitting on a wooden board with a tan-textured background displayed behind the jar of dressing.

My Favorite Italian Vinaigrette

Compliment your Italian salads with this herbaceous Italian vinaigrette that includes fresh Parmigiano Reggiano. There is no need to buy store-bought dressings once you've made this delicious and zingy dressing! It comes together in minutes and goes great with any salad.
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes
Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 heaping cup freshly grated Parmiggiano Reggiano
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, or one basil cube
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 large garlic clove, or two small gloves, or swap for 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons honey, or maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Blend the dressing: add all the dressing ingredients to a high-powered blender or food processor, plus a healthy pinch of salt. Blend the ingredients for 8-10 seconds or until well-combined and almost a creamy consistency. Note: try not to blend this too high to avoid the dressing getting frothy.
  • Taste and serve: Taste the dressing, add salt as needed or more pepper, then serve! Stir before using to remix the ingredients.

Notes

Keep it in a tightly sealed jar – I always store my salad dressings and vinaigrettes in mason jars or any jar that seals tightly with a lid. This helps preserve the dressing so the flavors and ingredients stay fresh.
How long it lasts – this vinaigrette can be refrigerated for 7 days. If no cheese is in the dressing, keep it at room temperature for 10 days.
Course Salad
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword Italian salad dressing, Italian vinaigrette
Freezer Friendly No

Nutrition

Serving: 3Tablespoons | Calories: 169kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.6g | Protein: 1.1g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 2.8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11.7g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 3.1mg | Sodium: 65.7mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 3.8g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 0mg

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