The Spring season is upon us and to me, that means all things green, fresh and flavorful. The new season brings so many vegetables to life – spring lettuce, asparagus, green peas, the list goes on.
And I found one of my absolute favorite ways to enjoy all those fresh veggies is to drizzle them with a generous amount of homemade Lemon Vinaigrette. It’s incredible how much it brightens up their flavor.
The beauty of making your own fresh lemon salad dressing is the control you have over the quality of ingredients. Many store-bought dressings contain hidden ingredients and additives I do not want in my diet.
It also makes a wonderful addition to my homemade vinaigrette dressing recipes. Much like my Chili Lime Vinaigrette, Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette, Greek Yogurt Dressing, Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette, and Tahini Yogurt Sauce, this easy and simple Lemon Vinaigrette recipe is made with 6 ingredients in under 5 minutes – that’s much faster than a trip to the grocery store!
Lemon olive oil dressing is made with just that – olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
A little note on the quality of the ingredients:
- Lemon Juice: For the best vinaigrette recipe, use freshly squeezed lemon juice from the fresh fruit rather than the bottled variety found in most supermarkets. This will provide the most natural flavor and acidity. Lemon juice concentrate is controlled to provide a certain level of acidity and flavor – they sometimes contain added preservatives, too. Purchase lemons a half dozen at a time (organic, if possible) and store the remainder for up to 2 weeks in your fridge.
- Olive Oil: For quality and flavor, it’s best to purchase a single origin, cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil packaged in a dark bottle (olive oil doesn’t like light) (Source).
Read the label to discover the country – or countries – of origin, the harvest date and to make sure it is “extra virgin” (if the label reads pure, light or just olive oil, those are not extra virgin). Look for certifications from the NAOOA (North American Olive Oil Association) or IOC (International Olive Council).
How To Make Lemon Vinaigrette
All you need is a small bowl and a whisk (or a mason jar) to make this easy lemon juice dressing. Simply:
Shake, Shake, Shake! Place all the ingredients in a small bowl or mason jar and either use a small whisk to whisk until emulsified or seal the jar tight and shake for 30-60 seconds until smooth and silky.
How To Store
If you prepare the simple lemon dressing in a mason jar, you are already halfway there! Simply label and date and store the vinaigrette in the same jar you mixed it in for up to 5 days in the fridge. Keep in mind it might lose some of its bright flavors over time.
Since most store-bought salad dressings are made with manufactured oils, the use of Extra Virgin Olive Oil offers the best in flavor!
This homemade lemon salad dressing is also Low-Carb, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Keto, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Whole30!
Variations for Lemon Salad Dressing
The dressing is simple enough as is, but there are a few ways we can dress it up even more:
- Lemon Zest: Add ½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest before you slice and juice the lemon.
- Without Oil (Oil-free salad dressing): Although olive oil is an important ingredient, if you want a basic lemon sauce without the fat, simply omit the oil.
- With Water: For a citrus juice dressing that is less acidic, add 2 Tablespoons of room-temperature filtered water to dilute the lemon juice’s acidity. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.
- Basic: Omit the garlic and Dijon mustard and make a basic lemon dressing with olive oil, water, lemon juice, salt, and pepper (follow the directions for using water in the notes above).
- Fresh Herbs: Add 1 teaspoon of any minced fresh herb, such as rosemary, oregano, thyme or parsley for a fun, Mediterranean twist.
- With Honey or Maple Syrup: Add ½ – 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup for a hint of natural sweetness.
Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 small cloves of garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Place all the ingredients in a jar and give it a shake.
- The video in the recipe card shows you how to make three different quinoa salads using this simple lemon vinaigrette recipe.
- The Dijon mustard adds a hint of spice and helps the dressing emulsify. Add more if you like your dressing a bit creamier.
- Swap in minced shallot for garlic: I think lemon garlic vinaigrette is delicious but for a milder flavor you can use a small minced shallot instead.
- A classic vinaigrette recipe calls for a ratio of 3:1 oil to acid, but I like my dressings less oily and more flavorful, so I use a ratio of 2:1. As always, adjust to your liking.
- When storing, the olive oil may solidify in the fridge. Simply remove the salad dressing at least 5 minutes before using to allow the olive oil to loosen in terms of consistency.
- The lemon juice and olive oil will separate in the fridge. This is completely natural since oil and vinegar do not mix. All you have to do is give it a gentle shake before drizzling over your meal of choice.
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This recipe was originally published in March 2020. It has been updated with a quick video and some additional helpful information in July 2020. No changes made to the original recipe.