Our simple and delicious Lemon Vinaigrette is an easy homemade salad dressing that pairs perfectly with a wide variety of salad combinations. It has just the right balance of acidity from the freshly squeezed lemon juice balanced with a little salt and a touch of honey (or agave to keep this vegan.) It is a tart and refreshing addition to your favorite salad.

pouring lemon dressing over a salad

I published this Lemon Juice Salad Dressing on January 1st, 2016. I have updated the text and photos today to share it with you again. The recipe remains unchanged.

Why We Love This Fresh Lemon Juice Vinaigrette Recipe

I’m going to say it right now: If you think you don’t have time to make salad dressing from scratch, think again! Today’s simple homemade vinaigrette recipe could not be any easier! Just put some ingredients in the blender. Whirl them up. Taste. Adjust if necessary. You’re done. Lemon vinaigrette. Viola!

You know how much we love making homemade salad dressings around here. I have shared dozens and dozens over the years. Some of our favorites include this Tarragon Vinaigrette and our Healthier Blue Cheese Dressing made with Greek yogurt. We have shared both unusual combinations like this Thai Peanut Dressing or this Japanese Carrot Ginger Dressing to classics like this Light Creamy Italian and this Balsamic Walnut Vinaigrette. But this lemon juice dressing is hands down one of our all-time best.

We always keep fresh lemons on hand and I regularly use them in place of vinegar to make homemade salad dressing. I love the clean, bright, and tart taste especially because it is relatively neutral so it goes with a wide variety of cuisines. Lemon pairs with Middle Eastern recipes, Mediterranean food as well as classic American recipes too.

So ditch that bottled dressing and say hello to your next favorite salad dressing combination.

Ingredients For This Recipe

ingredients for this recipe with labels

Fresh Lemon Juice

I started with fresh lemon juice. Using fresh squeezed makes all the difference! I use a citrus reamer, but really you can just use a fork to help get all of the juice out of the lemon! 


Because it is so acidic, I used one part lemon juice to two parts oil. Normally I follow a slightly different ratio that I explained when I shared my cider vinegar salad dressing recipe. In this case I stray from my usual formula so that the dressing isn’t too bracingly acidic.


I also use shallot in this dressing as per my general instructions for using allium in dressings. See more here in my Lemon tahini dressing recipe! 


This is an important ingredient in classic vinaigrettes because it has naturally occurring lecithin which is an emulsifier. It helps the lemon juice and oil hold an emulsion. It also adds peppy savory flavor!

Honey or Agave

To balance the strong acidity of the lemon juice I add in a touch of sweetness from either agave (to keep this vegan) or honey. You won’t taste the sweetness, but it really cuts the bracing tart lemon taste.

Salt and Pepper

To complete the flavor profile, one must add salt to balance the sweet and sour. Pepper adds a bit of spice.

How To Make The Best Lemon Vinaigrette

blending the dressing in a mini-prep

Step 1: Blend Without Oil

I blend it all together with an immersion blender or a mini-prep to make it ultra-creamy and make it hold its emulsion longer. 

Start by combining the lemon, shallot, Dijon, agave, salt and pepper in the mini-prep or in the jar of an immersion blender. Or you can whisk the combination by hand.

The goal is to fully combine the Dijon and agave into the lemon juice so that the oil will stay in the emulsion better once it is added.

Step 2: Add Oil and Blend Again

Add the olive oil and avocado oil to the dressing, cover and puree again. If you are whisking by hand you will have to gradually drizzle in the oil so that it forms an emulsion.

pour the dressing into a jar to store for up to one week

Step 3: Enjoy or Store

Once the dressing is smooth and emulsified, transfer it to a jar and refrigerate it for up to one week. If it becomes solid after a few days, let it come to room temperature. Shake well before using.

a pitcher of dressing with salad behind it

Expert Tips and FAQs For This Homemade Salad Dressing

What is the difference between dressing and vinaigrette?

A vinaigrette is a type of salad dressing. Vinaigrettes are made with oil and vinegar, or in the case of this dressing, oil and lemon juice. They are typically made with one part lemon juice (or vinegar) to two parts oil. Classic vinaigrettes are made with mustard and shallot as well. Salad dressings include vinaigrettes, but also include creamy dressings.

How Long Does Homemade Lemon Vinaigrette Last?

This dressing keeps in the fridge for one week. The oil will become solid after a few days, so if the dressing is hard when you pull it out of the fridge, let it come up to room temperature. Shake well before using. You can also set the jar of dressing in a bowl of warm water to warm it quickly.

What kind of herbs are good in salad dressing?

In this lemon dressing, feel free to add one to two tablespoons of fresh chopped dill or tarragon to jazz it up. You can also use chives, chervil or basil. Stronger woody herbs like thyme or oregano are best used in small quantities.

Why is my lemon vinaigrette bitter?

Lemon is sour so should not make your salad dressing bitter, but olive oil is bitter. If your dressing is made with only olive oil (and not a blend of neutral oil and extra-virgin olive oil) then it can take on a bitter taste. I also add in a little sweetener to balance the sour and bitter tastes from the lemon and olive oil.

Best Salad Combinations For This Vinaigrette with Lemon

This dressing is a good multi-purpose vinaigrette. It is great at this time of year when greens are on the bitter and robust side.

  • The tartness of the lemon vinaigrette dressing pairs well with the bitter greens as they balance each other. I used head lettuce and radicchio today.
  • Try it with bitter-sweet and tender Belgian endive with chopped egg and radishes.
  • Drizzle it over a blend of dandelion greens and romaine hearts. Or take it up a notch cand add on grilled onion, goat cheese and roasted beets to make it a bold and balanced beet salad.
  • It can be used to dress Shaved Asparagus Salad or for Massaged Kale Salad.
  • Skip the store-bought dressing and simply toss it with some earthy baby spinach and cherry tomatoes.
  • It is perfect for tossing with pasta salad with chickpeas, artichoke hearts, olives, feta and a little mint. I pop in a bit of extra lemon zest for more lemon flavor too.
  • I have also poured it over chilled blanched asparagus, like in this recipe for asparagus with tarragon vinaigrette.
  • This is great with Greek Cucumber Salad and this Spring Salad with Snap Peas, Feta and Mint.
overhead of salad with a pitcher of dressing on a cutting board

More Salad Dressing Recipes: 

More Simple Lemon Recipes

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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a glass pitcher of dressing with a wedge of lemon

The Best Lemon Vinaigrette

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 10 reviews


This simple lemon juice vinaigrette is so simple and easy but it goes with dozens of salad combinations! Serve it with a Greek salad or over spinach with cherry tomatoes and you can’t go wrong!


Units Scale
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallot
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons agave or honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup organic canola oil or avocado oil


  1. Blend lemon juice, shallot, Dijon, agave, salt and pepper in a blender or mini-prep.
  2. Add olive oil and canola oil and blend until smooth.
  3. Store in a jar in the refrigerator.


Store it in a jar in your refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Bring up to room temperature before tossing with salad if it solidifies in the fridge.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Category: Salad Dressing
  • Method: small appliance
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 129
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 231 mg
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 5 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g

One more thing! This recipe is part of my Meal Prep Menu which also includes five make ahead dinners! In this plan, I give you the prep list, shopping list and plan to prep on the weekend, so you can have all your weeknight meals ready to go with 20 minutes (or less) of time in the kitchen! 

  1. Monday: Stuffed Shells with Spinach and salad with this Lemon Juice Salad Dressing
  2. Tuesday: Cod Fish Tacos with refried black beans
  3. Wednesday: Sloppy Joes and Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Cheese
  4. Thursday: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
  5. Friday: Greek Pizza and lemony green beans

To get the full details, print your shopping list and get started, head over to the Meal Prep Menu to check it out!