This vinaigrette recipe combines fresh basil and sweet, tangy balsamic vinegar and is ready in just 5 minutes. The blender (or smoothie maker) makes quick work of mixing up this 5-ingredient recipe. Information on the best balsamic vinegar is included.
Be sure to check out more of my vinaigrette recipes including my 5 minute-lemon shallot vinaigrette, super simple pink grapefruit vinaigrette and my 5-minute creamy tahini vinaigrette. All of these easy recipes mix up in the blender.
The Best Balsamic Vinegar for Vinaigrettes
I highly recommend using a good quality balsamic vinegar. The flavor will really come through in this vinaigrette and not all balsamic vinegars are created equal. Some are simply wine vinegar with caramel coloring. Some are super pricey ($50-$100 per bottle). Something in-between works well for a vinaigrette.
Most balsamic vinegars that you find in the grocery store are a combination of traditional balsamic vinegar (super pricey) mixed with wine vinegar. But it can be difficult to pick a good one.
Reading the ingredients is your best bet for finding a decent balsamic. A quality one will have grape must as one of the first ingredients and if there’s no grape must, it’s fake balsamic.
An “IGP” designation on the label also assures quality. It means that several standards for producing the vinegar have been followed, including the use of aged balsamic from specific regions of Italy and limited caramel coloring.
The Vinaigrette Ratio
The traditional ratio of oil to vinegar in a vinaigrette is three parts oil to one part vinegar. This recipe sticks to that ratio. But when you start adding other ingredients like raspberries or citrus, the ratio usually needs some tweaking. See more about the vinaigrette ratio in my post the correct ratio for a vinaigrette.
Extra virgin olive oil is the traditional oil to use in a vinaigrette. It has depth of flavor and balances nicely with tangy vinegar. I recommend a quality evoo like California Olive Ranch Oils.
One problem with extra virgin olive oil is that it turns solid when refrigerated. This dressing, with fresh basil, should be refrigerated after 48 hours. So one option is to replace some of the evoo with a neutral oil like canola, sunflower or avocado oil. This keeps the dressing from turning completely solid when chilled. Otherwise, take the vinaigrette out of the refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes before using.
Fresh basil adds a bright, fresh flavor to this vinaigrette. Be sure to remove the thicker stems before blending. The thinner stems have good flavor so it’s okay to blend those in.
This dressing has just two more simple ingredients to balance and enhance the flavor. In order to balance the slight bitterness of olive oil and the sour balsamic vinegar, a sweet element is needed. I use agave because it incorporates easily. But other sweeteners like sugar, honey, maple syrup or even stevia will work. Salt is a wonderful flavor enhancer and will bring out the flavor of the basil as well as taming any bitterness the olive oil brings.
Salads with Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette
This dressing is very versatile and can top almost any green salad but here are a few ideas:
- Heirloom tomatoes and baby spinach topped with shaved parmesan and chopped walnuts
- A bed of butter lettuce topped with orange sections, sliced cucumber and chopped cashews
- Spring mix with roasted zucchini, tomato and eggplant.
5-Minute Fresh Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
- ¾ c extra virgin olive oil OR ½ c ev olive oil + ¼ c neutral oil like canola, sunflower or avocado oil*
- ½ c packed, fresh basil, thick stems removed
- ¼ c balsamic vinegar look for one with an IGP designation on the label
- 1½ tsp agave or other sweetener
- ¼ tsp salt
- Note: This vinaigrette should be refrigerated. But the extra virgin olive oil is likely to solidify when chilled. An alternative is to use part neutral oil (instructions above). Otherwise, remove it from the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before using.
- Place all of the ingredients in the blender or smoothie maker, starting with the basil and oil.
- Blend on high for 10 seconds. This should be enough to blend the basil. If you blend to long, it will turn the basil brown immediately.
- Taste. Balsamic vinegars and ev olive oils vary in flavor. Some flavor adjustments may be necessary.Is it too bitter? Add 2 pinches salt.Is it too sour? Add 1 tablespoon of oil and ¼ tsp sweetener.Is it too sweet? Add a pinch or 2 of salt and 2 teaspoons vinegar.
- This dressing will stay fresh when refrigerated for at least 10 days. The olive oil will probably solidify when chilled, so remove the vinaigrette from the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before using.