Lemon Vinaigrette Recipe
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.
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.
Table of contents
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
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
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.
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.
Expert Tips and FAQs For This Homemade Salad Dressing
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.
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.
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.
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.
More Salad Dressing Recipes:
- Kalamata Olive and Basil Vinaigrette, here’s one that will liven up even the simplest salads! Try it on cukes and tomatoes! Amazing.
- Maple Sherry Vinaigrette, one of my favorite dressings ever! Do not miss it!
- Another maple one is this creamy Maple Tahini Salad Dressing. It is so good I would drink it. Seriously!
- Our love of ranch is strong over here. Try our Horseradish Ranch or this Maple Ranch Dressing.
- This Mustard Salad Dressing was inspired by the dressings I had in Germany.
- We have even added fresh whole Cranberries to dressing and made a dressing with tomatoes with smoked paprika.
More Simple Lemon Recipes
- My Lemon Blueberry Bread is To-Die-For! Do not die- just make the bread!
- How about some Healthy Lemon Bars from Monique! Yes, please!!
- How To Make Lemon Curd from my friend Ally! She knows her stuff!
- Just looking at this Lemony Bucatini Carbonara makes me salivate! It is off the hook delish!
- Do not miss my supremely lemony Chicken Piccata or my Hollandaise made with Greek Yogurt- both are top-notch!
- This lemony Tabbouleh Salad is classic and fresh and a favorite in the summer months.
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! ~KatiePrint
The Best Lemon Vinaigrette
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 cup 1x
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!
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallot
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons agave or honey
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup organic canola oil or avocado oil
- Blend lemon juice, shallot, Dijon, agave, salt and pepper in a blender or mini-prep.
- Add olive oil and canola oil and blend until smooth.
- 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
Keywords: lemon juice salad dressing, lemon olive oil dressing, lemon vinaigrette
This Recipe is Part of the Meal Prep Menu:
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!
- Monday: Stuffed Shells with Spinach and salad with this Lemon Juice Salad Dressing
- Tuesday: Cod Fish Tacos with refried black beans
- Wednesday: Sloppy Joes and Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Cheese
- Thursday: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- 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!
Hi, im from Indonesia. I love salads and found your website made me so excited! I live in a small city and hard to find Dijon mustard and canola oil. What can i use as substitute for those ingredients? Thank you for the recipes.
You can use any neutral cooking oil such as safflower oil or avocado oil. For the Dijon you can sub in another mustard. It works to help emulsify the dressing. If you skip the mustard, the lemon and oil won’t mix together as well, but it will taste similar enough.
Just made it and the taste is very good, cant wait to try it in my salad for lunch.
Hi Shannon. I am so glad you like the dressing! Thanks so much for coming back to review. I appreciate it. Enjoy your salad!
Love how easy this is!
Hey Gerry! How are you my friend? Thanks so much. Gotta love an easy healthy recipe don’t ‘cha? Have a great day.
I’m normally a bit sensitive when it comes to lemon juice but the additional ingredients in this dressing really balance it out. I am loving homemade dressings right now because they are so easy and scale down well so I don’t have a lot of waste.
Lemon is very acidic, so I hear you. The honey and salt really helps.
This salad dressing sounds fantastic! I want to put this on all my salads!
From one salad lover to another I take that as high praise!
A marvelous change of pace from my usual balsamic vinaigrette! Lovely on a simple salad!
Hi Liz. That’s great to hear you think it’s great too. Hope you enjoy it.
I made this dressing today! It was absolutely delicious! I will be making it again.
I am thrilled you liked it Mary! Thank you so much for coming back to review!
I used Meyer lemons and an touch more honey to get a light acid taste. I dressed the greens very lightly. I’m making my second recipe to pour over blanched asparagus for a brunch. Should be good!
I think Meyer lemon sounds heavenly! Thank you so much for coming back to let us know you liked it Daphne. I appreciate it!
Hello. Tried this salad dressing using your ingredients as published. The acidity was rather extreme – required me to add quite a bit more honey and some balsamic reduction in order to counteract the tartness of the lemon juice. I am obviously reluctant to add sugar to this, even if it is organic cane sugar, because it is, of course, a leaner recipe. Whatever is left over will make a very good marinade for chicken in my humble culinary opinion.
Hi Tony, Thank you so much for coming back to let us know that you made the recipe. If you make it again, you could always increase the honey to 4 teaspoons to suit your palate. Balsamic reduction is also essentially a sweetener, but adds other flavors which would compete with the lemon so I think the honey would be a better choice. Also, which kind of salt did you use? Was it regular iodized table salt or coarse kosher salt? Salt balances the acidity, and kosher (measure for measure) has about half the sodium as regular salt, and therefore will not balance the acidity effectively. I love the idea of using this for a marinade too. Great suggestion!
Sounds delicious except for the agave (worse than high fructose corn syrup). I’m guessing I could substitute honey & the flavor would be even better.
The flavor of the honey does shine thorough even though you are getting only 1/4 teaspoon per serving (about 1 g sugar from it.) If that works with the salad ingredients you’re pairing it with, I say go for it! We had it on Easter (with a little dill added) on a salad with hard boiled eggs and it really shined! Hope you enjoy it Diane. Happy cooking!
The dressing sounds good but 14 gms of fat per serving? When you want to maintain your weight? The nutritionist told me 20 gms a day for a woman is the max!!
Are you on a weight loss or maintenance plan Mary? I am not a health professional or registered dietitian. That sounds very low to me for a maintenance program. From SF Gate: Women following a 1,600-calorie diet need 36 to 62 grams of fat, women eating 2,000 calories need 44 to 78 grams and women consuming 2,400-calorie diets need about 53 to 93 grams of fat each day. The range is based on muscle mass and activity level. I personally gave up counting grams of macros, and I focus on satiety. I maintain my weight with intuitive eating. Here is more about my struggles with my weight and my eating philosophy and how I quit dieting: https://www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com/intuitive-eating-program/
I totally live by the “everything in moderation” but I still love meals with fresh, whole ingredients. This dressing is totally my jam. 🙂
Gotta love real food!
I completely agree that everything in moderation is the way to go. I love all the homemade dressings that you share, Katie. I’m always so tired of store-bought dressings, and I feel like I’ve exhausted the recipes I have around the house. Trying this soon!
You can never have enough simple homemade dressings up your sleeve, perfect especially for this time of year and switching up all the healthy greens!
I totally agree! Have a great day my friend.
Katie, although I make lots of desserts, I am just like you. Everything in moderation.. I eat the same amount of sweets in December that I eat in March! But homemade salad dressing is something I could start making!
Totally! Desserts meh, but salads Yay! Ha ha. Cheers Beth. Thanks so much for the visit.
What a beautiful salad dressing Katie, it looks so bright and fresh! And I have a feeling I’m going to be eating a LOT of salads this month. 😉 Happy new year!
Me too Roxana! I have been crushing the salads this January.