This creamy lemon basil dressing is super easy, and ready within 5 minutes. The blender does most of the work! There’s no chopping, slicing or mixing required.
A big bunch of fresh basil gives this dressing its bright green color and wonderful flavor.
Lemon is such a perfect flavor pairing with fresh herbs, especially basil. I highly recommend using fresh squeezed lemon juice. The store bought stuff just doesn’t taste the same.
For another sour flavor, I use apple cider vinegar. I feel that it works well with the lemon and the sweetness of basil.
Oils – I use a combination of extra virgin olive oil and a sunflower or avocado oil (corn, canola or vegetable will work too). The basil will oxidize and turn brown if not refrigerated. If you use all olive oil, the dressing will solidify in the fridge, so using half and half works well. The neutral oil will allow you to store it in the refrigerator to maintain the beautiful bright green color.
When making a salad dressing with sour as a dominant flavor it is important to balance it with other ingredients. A little bit of agave adds a sweet balance to the recipe. If you don’t have agave, maple syrup or sugar are good substitutes.
Salt brings all the other flavor together. No salad dressing would be complete without it. Salt has the ability to make all the flavors in a dish pop and sing.
As made in the recipe below, this dressing is definitely thick with a lot of body but I wouldn’t necessarily call it creamy. It can easily be turned into a creamy dressing with one or two ingredients.
My favorite addition is Greek yogurt (dairy-free options ok). Kite Hill is my preferred vegan/dairy-free yogurt sub. Add 1/2 cup yogurt per cup of dressing and blend thoroughly to transform it into a lovely creamy dressing.
The combination of sour cream and mayo can also turn this into a creamy dressing. Add three tablespoons mayo plus 1/4 cup sour cream per cup of dressing.
Lemon Basil Sauce
I call this a salad dressing but it is also perfect as a sauce on grilled fish or chicken. Toss it with pasta, rice or quinoa for an easy flavorful side dish. Or toss steamed, grilled or roasted veggies.
Since salad dressings are slightly more acidic, you can ease up on the cider vinegar by a tablespoon or two.
How to Balance Flavors
Feel free to adjust the flavor to your preference. Salad dressing is great way to start learning how to balance flavors. Here’s how to do it:
- Too sour? Add more oil or a little sweetener to tone it down.
- Not tart enough? Add more lemon juice or vinegar a couple of teaspoons at a time.
- If it’s blah, add more salt a pinch or two at a a time.
- Too sweet? Add more sour or salt just a little at a time.
You can use this same process for anything that you cook to take your dishes from eh, to wow! Here is my post on the basics of balancing flavor when you cook.
Uses for Lemon Basil Dressing
5 Minute Lemon Basil Salad Dressing
- 3 oz fresh basil
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup oil, avocado, sunflower, canola or other neutral flavored vegetable oil
- juice of 1 lemon (about ¼ cup)
- ¼ c apple cider vinegar
- ¼-½ tsp table salt
- 1 Tbsp. agave optional
- Remove the thicker stems from the basil and stuff it into your blender cup.
- Pour the oils on top of the basil. Add the remaining ingredients but use only ¼ tsp salt.
- Blend on high for 30-40 seconds.
- Taste. Feel free to adjust the flavor to your preference. Balance the sour with some sweetener or more oil. If it seems blah add more salt or another teaspoon or two of lemon juice.
- Store in the refrigerator to maintain the bright green color.