Vinaigrette dressings are easy to make and add a tangy deliciousness to salads of all kinds. This Lemon vinaigrette dressing, especially, makes a great addition to your arsenal during those times when you’re craving something that’s both refreshing and flavorful but also feels light.
This dressing fits the bill and makes a great topper for fruit-filled salads, fresh greens, and grain-centric cold dishes.
Best of all, this lemon vinaigrette dressing recipe is super simple to make right at home. All you’ll need is a lemon, some oil, vinegar, and maple syrup. It is both sweet and tangy and just light enough to add some serious flavor without weighing the salad down or overshadowing the true stars of the plate.
What is Vinaigrette Dressing?
Vinaigrette dressing is simply the combination of vinegar or a similar acid with oil. This type of dressing may very well be the first that was ever used. Ancient Babylonians used oil and vinegar to flavor bowls of greens nearly 2,000 years ago. Before them, ancient Egyptians were combining oil, vinegar, and Asian spices to flavor their meals.
Olive oil is most often used as the base for this type of dressing in modern times. The type of vinegar that is added is what defines the kind of vinaigrette dressing it becomes. For our tasty lemon vinaigrette, we use a combination of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.
Other popular types include balsamic vinaigrette, which uses balsamic vinegar, and wine vinaigrette, which uses red or white wine vinegar.
- Olive Oil. The best type of olive oil for salad dressing is extra virgin olive oil. This cold-pressed form is the purest of all olive oils and contains the most flavor and antioxidants.
- Lemon. For the best flavor, use freshly squeezed lemon juice. One medium-sized lemon will provide about 3 to 4 tablespoons of juice–enough for this recipe.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. Opt for unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the mother if possible. Not only will this add more tangy flavor, but it also brings a healthy dose of probiotics to the meal.
- Maple Syrup. A little sweetness is necessary to counteract all the acidity in this dressing. Maple syrup is perfect because it brings plenty of rich flavor along with that sweetness.
How to Make Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
This dressing comes together rather quickly. All you’ll need in terms of tools is a jar or bowl and a whisk. You can find a full, printable recipe card at the end of the article, but for now, let’s take a detailed look at the steps.
- Start by washing and halving your lemon. Squeeze the lemon through a strainer into a bowl or jar. Alternatively, you can use a manual juicer, just be sure to strain out the seeds before adding the juice to your mixing bowl.
- Add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup to the mixing bowl or jar. The syrup acts as an emulsifier and will help blend the oil with the lemon juice and vinegar.
- Whisk the mixture vigorously until everything is well mixed.
- Add salt and pepper and mix again.
- Taste and add more of the ingredients as needed to meet your personal preferences.
- Cut the sweetness with Dijon mustard. Not a big fan of sweet dressings? You can cut the sugariness of this recipe by adding a tsp of Dijon mustard and cutting the amount of maple syrup in half. Dijon also acts as an emulsifier and will help the ingredients combine while bringing a little extra savory flavor in place of all that sweetness. NOTE: If you’re following a strict vegan diet, be sure to select certified vegan Dijon mustard.
- Out of fresh lemon? You can substitute bottled lemon juice for fresh if you must. The flavor won’t be as tangy or sharp, but it will work fine in a pinch.
- Make it zesty with some added garlic. If you like a little bite to your salad, add a clove of grated garlic to the mix. This goes especially well with the Dijon substitution outlined above.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Is My Lemon Vinaigrette Good For?
Because this vinaigrette utilizes fresh lemon juice in addition to vinegar, it will only last in your refrigerator for about one week. After that, the lemon juice begins to oxidize and lose flavor and nutrients.
Can I Freeze My Vinaigrette Dressing?
Freezing dressing is rarely a good idea and this recipe is no exception. Instead, only make as much as you will use in one week and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Can I Use a Different Sweetener In Place of Maple Syrup?
You can use any sweetener you’d like in place of maple syrup. If you don’t follow a strict vegan diet, honey is a good alternative that can be used at a one-to-one ratio. For a sugar-free option, you can add 3 to 5 drops of liquid stevia, just be sure to add a tsp of Dijon mustard as well to help emulsify the other ingredients.
This refreshing dressing pairs well with a variety of different types of salads. Here are some of our favorites that go well with lemon vinaigrette:
- Summer Farro Salad – This delicious summer dish may very well be one of those meals that the ancient Egyptians used the first vinaigrette dressings on. It’s made even better with a little lemon added to the mix.
- Vegan Quinoa Salad – We adapted our lemon vinaigrette recipe from the one featured in this quinoa salad recipe, so you can imagine how well the two go together.
- Mango Cucumber Salad – Add some greens to this tropical salad and replace the lime dressing with our lemon vinaigrette for a deliciously sweet and tangy treat.
- Chickpea and Cucumber Salad – Add a little sunshine to this high-protein salad by replacing the balsamic dressing with the subtle flavors of our lighter lemon vinaigrette.
- Fall Harvest Salad – The dressing recipe for this Thanksgiving favorite is very similar to our lemon vinaigrette minus the lemon. We think it tastes great either way!
Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Wash a lemon and cut it in half. Squeeze the lemon through a strainer into a bowl or jar.
- Add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup to the mixing bowl or jar. Whisk the mixture vigorously until everything is well mixed.
- Add salt and pepper and mix again and season to taste.