June 11th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
Share this on:

America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full¬time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most¬ foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook's Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.

Vinaigrette may be the most useful sauce in any cook's repertoire, because in addition to dressing greens, it can be used as sauce for chicken, fish, and vegetables that have been grilled, poached, or steamed.

The ingredient list is short and method is simple. So what's the problem? Basic vinaigrette doesn't stay together. By the time you pour it over greens and get the salad to the table, this emulsified sauce has broken and you end up with overly vinegary and oily bites of salad. Which is where our recipe for a foolproof dressing that won't break comes in.

This vinaigrette works with nearly any type of greens but is especially well suited to mild, tender lettuces. For a hint of garlic flavor, rub the inside of the salad bowl with a clove of garlic before assembling the salad. And the best part? Once you master this technique you can play around with the types of vinegars, oils, and seasonings you use to make dozens of different dressings. So get whisking; the world is your salad bowl.


Foolproof Vinaigrette


1 Tablespoon wine vinegar (red, white, or champagne)
1 1/2 Teaspoons very finely minced shallots
1/2 Teaspoon regular or light mayonnaise
1/2 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 Teaspoon table salt
Ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


1. Mince 1 shallot to yield 1 1/2 teaspoons.
2. Combine 1 tablespoon vinegar, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in small nonreactive bowl.
3. Whisk until mixture is milky in appearance and no lumps of mayonnaise remain.
4. Place 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in small measuring cup so that it is easy to pour. (You can also use a small bowl.)
5. Whisking constantly, very slowly drizzle oil into vinegar mixture.
6. If pools of oil are gathering on surface as you whisk, stop addition of oil and whisk mixture well to combine, then resume whisking in oil in slow stream.
7. Vinaigrette should be glossy and lightly thickened, with no pools of oil on its surface.

More from America's Test Kitchen:
Caesar Salad
Chopped Caprese Salad
Massage Kale for Tender Greens (VIDEO)
What Is An Emulsion? (VIDEO)
Our Favorite Salad Spinner

What to sip with your salad
Spouse vs Spouse: summer salad smackdown
The only salad that matters right now

Posted by:
Filed under: America's Test Kitchen • Condiment • Content Partner • Dishes • Ingredients • Salad

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. ph

    mayonnaise and mustard? no no no! balsamic vinegar, an excellent olive oil, spice and garlic… now we are talking.

    August 24, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
  2. Arthur in the Garden!


    June 16, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
  3. AJ

    Couldn't this person have cleaned the fingernails prior to filming. Good sounding recipe. Fingernails, yuk factor.

    June 16, 2014 at 7:36 am |
  4. KieranH

    I thought they were going to say bacon.....

    June 13, 2014 at 6:39 am |
  5. Wanda Barchard

    So I start to read the recipe and get to the mayonnaise and stop there. I am of the old school: a Vinaigrette is a beautiful combination of vinegar, oil and herbs – when shaken it becomes a temporary emulsion and then returns to it's clarity. To each his own!

    June 12, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
    • shawn l

      Mayo contains eggs and oil, and a few dried spices. So, not exactly an odd thing.

      June 16, 2014 at 5:47 am |
  6. Ally

    Ehhh....in my book any dressing made with olive oil and vinegar is a vinaigrette. I've never used mayo though. And I nearly always use some kind of citrus juice. Olive oil, balsamic, green onion, Dijon, sesame seeds, salt, pepper, parsley is fabulous over chicken.

    June 12, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
    • Ally

      oops....and orange or lemon juice. Forgot that. :)

      June 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
  7. Bob

    This sounds kind of like a bland Caesar salad dressing with no lemon juice or anchovies. Why not use an egg yolk for the emulsifier instead of mayo? The mayo is made from eggs but has been cooked. Real Caesar salad dressing has raw eggs of course.

    June 12, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
    • Elgog Partynipple


      The emulsifiyer in vinegarette dressing is not mayo. 1 egg yolk will emulsify 14 onces of oil. The emulsifyier in a vinegarette is the mustard. it's not as strong an emulsifyer as egg yolk but it makes for a lighter dressing. Plus mustard provides a lot of bightness as well. leave the mayo out of this recipe and see what happens. My guess is the reason there is mayo in the recipe is that it's emulsion is already started and it's easier to get an emulsion going if your emaultion is already started. By the way, butter is an emulsion as well.

      June 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      Bob, I like that!

      June 12, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
  8. Retta'sVegas

    She's a media whore, who would say AND do anything for $.
    She is a bad joke for the GOP whenever she opens her mouth.

    Independent voter

    June 12, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
  9. M Reali

    So many different variations here:

    I make one version of what we call "vinaigrette" with balsamic, mustard, salt and pepper, Miso and peanut butter (a small amount). You can change so many things here. Another tip is to leave the greens and the "additional items" separate, allowing the "additions" such as cucumber, tomato, nuts, dried fruit, etc. to soak in the dressing for 5 minutes or so before spooning it on top of a heap of greens. Gotta love salads.

    June 12, 2014 at 11:21 am |
  10. AleeD®

    A vinaigrette with mustard & mayo? That's ... different.

    June 12, 2014 at 6:59 am |
    • Thinking things through

      I make mine with mustard and no mayo.

      June 12, 2014 at 7:53 am |
    • rlj

      Is that still vinaigrette?

      June 12, 2014 at 8:40 am |
      • AleeD®

        Technically no. But food is an ever-changing thing, so you can't really draw a line in the sand. It used to be that whiskey made in Kentucky was the only one that could be called "bourbon." That is changing now, too.

        June 12, 2014 at 9:01 am |
| Part of