Fresh lemon juice and zest combine with olive oil, shallots, and a few other pantry staples in this 5 minute lemon vinaigrette. This is the perfect addition to spring salads, pasta salads, and even roasted veggies!
Everyone needs a go-to salad dressing and this lemon shallot vinaigrette is mine. As much as I love creamy dressings like ranch, this is the salad dressing that I always come back to because it's light, refreshing, and really easy to make.
I used to think that homemade salad dressing was an unnecessary way to spend my time and money because storebought dressings are so easy to access.
But ever since I started making my own salad dressings, I realized how much more flavorful they are! They are also surprisingly easy to throw together and usually take no more than a few minutes to whisk up.
- Light and zesty: Filled with bright and light flavor from lemon juice and lemon zest. A touch of honey balances out the acidity and marries the flavors together.
- Versatile: This vinaigrette is perfect on an arugula salad, pasta salads, and even orzo salad. Use it on anything that needs a kick of refreshing flavor.
- Great for meal prep: This vinaigrette is easy to double or even triple. Keep in the fridge for up to a week and use on grain bowls, veggies, and pasta.
- Lemon juice: Choose fresh lemon juice from the best flavor. While lemon juice from a bottle works, I think that the flavor is a little off in comparison to fresh lemon juice.
- Lemon zest: One medium lemon usually has about a tablespoon of lemon zest. Use a microplane to easily zest a lemon. A box grater also works if you don't have a microplane.
- Shallot: If you're new to shallots, they are a small variety of onions. They have a milder and slightly sweeter flavor than red onion.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Choose a "light" olive oil for the most neutral flavor. Rich olive oil also works but results in a stronger olive oil taste.
- Honey: The sweetness from honey balances out the acidic lemon. Adjust honey to taste. Maple syrup, agave syrup, or date syrup also work.
- Dijon mustard is added as an emulsifier, which means that it helps the olive oil and lemon juice stay combined. The flavor is very mild and almost unnoticeable. I usually use whole seed mustard or Dijon, but any kind works in a pinch.
Steps to make
Good news: making this lemon shallot vinaigrette is beyond simple.
Start by thinly slicing the shallot. If you don't want large pieces of shallot in your salad, I recommend roughly chopping the shallot after slicing it.
I use pint-sized ball jars with these lids to shake together vinaigrettes. If you don't have a jar with a lid, simply whisk together the ingredients until mixed together.
If meal prepping the lemon vinaigrette or just making it in advance, it still needs to be shaken before serving. The olive oil and lemon juice naturally separate over time. A quick shake will blend them back together.
Expert tips and FAQ
- If you want shallot flavor but don't want crunchy pieces of shallot in your salad, simply blend together the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender before serving.
- Adding shallot directly to dressings/vinaigrettes tenderizes them and decreases some of its astringent flavors. I also use this method in my collard green salad to tame red onion flavor.
- I love this combination so much that I have a lot of recipes with variations of this lemon dressing. If you want more flavors like this, try this watermelon cucumber salad, veggie pasta salad, or this lentil salad.
Yes, you can use about ⅓ cup diced red onion in place of the sliced shallot. Red onion does have a stronger, less sweet flavor than shallot so the lemon vinaigrette will have a slightly different taste.
Any liquid sweetener works well. Try date syrup, agave syrup, or even maple syrup (note that these will slightly modify the flavor of the dressing).
I usually keep homemade vinaigrettes in the fridge for about a week, though in all honesty it usually gets used in just a few days.
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Simple Lemon Vinaigrette with Shallots
- 1 medium shallot
- ¼ cup lemon juice from 2 medium lemons
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil from 1 medium lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons honey agave or maple syrup also work
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt adjust to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Thinly slice the shallot into strips. For less noticeable pieces of shallot you can roughly chop it into strips.
- To a pint-sized jar, add the lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, honey, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, and black pepper. Close tightly with a lid and shake to combine or whisk together the ingredients.
- Refrigerate vinaigrette for up to a week. Shake before serving.
- Shallot: One medium shallot makes about ½ cup of sliced shallot. Use about ⅓ cup of red onion if shallot is unavailable.
- Lemons: One medium lemon usually has 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2-3 teaspoons of lemon zest.