Homemade, All Natural Vinaigrette: The Real “French Dressing”

Dec 23, 2008 by

When I moved to France, I discovered that the thick red salad dressing in a bottle called French Dressing that we used to eat as kids is something completely foreign to the French. 

It was also in France I first realized that there was an alternative to keeping a supply of a few different store-bought salad dressings standing at the ready inside the door of the fridge. 

The everyday norm in France is to whip up your own vinaigrette as needed. Real French dressing takes about two minutes to make, and it’s homemade, all the time, with no artificial flavors, additives, thickeners, or preservatives. Just plain mustard, oil and vinegar. But like bottled dressing, it keeps indefinitely in the fridge.

The French concept of salad dressing—la sauce de salade—can be that basic vinaigrette or tailor-made for the particular salad recipe.  It can include different kinds of oil from olive or sunflower to walnut or peanut.  Most include mustard (never the bright yellow “French’s” type, also foreign to the French), whole grain or smooth Dijon. Another main ingredient will be one of a variety of vinegars: balsamic, red or white wine, sherry vinegar, or juice: lemon, lime or even orange or apple. Some even call for some yogurt in the mix. Then there are the innumerable possible herbs and spices, along with garlic and onions.

For now, let’s start with the everyday vinaigrette.  Portions are highly flexible, but this mix is especially good.

Real French Vinaigrette

3 T red wine vinegar

1 ½ t Dijon mustard

½ C olive oil or mix of walnut and olive oils

Optional: 1 finely minced shallot (very small, mild-flavored onions)



Start by blending the mustard and vinegar thoroughly, and add the shallots. Then gradually add the oil, stirring constantly until it blends and thickens. 



 © Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon December / 23, 2008 / All Rights Reserved

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