This healthy, homemade vinaigrette will literally take you one minute to prepare.
Balsamic vinaigrette is my go-to salad dressing. I love it on everything from avocados, to cottage cheese, to straight-up greens. The only problem is, you can’t buy just any vinaigrette on the market and expect it to be keto-friendly. Most vinaigrettes are LOADED with added sugars.
Of course, there are some brands such as Primal Kitchen that have developed delicious keto-approved recipes, but you’re certainly going to pay for the labor. And I can guarantee they won’t be as tasty as this homemade rendition.
The Secret to the BEST Balsamic Vinaigrette
The key to amazing balsamic vinaigrette is not in the ratio of oil to acid, or in any top-secret ingredients. The key to nailing the flavor lies in the quality of your ingredients.
Choosing High-Quality Oil
The type of oil you select will not only determine the complexity of flavors within your vinaigrette, it also sets the standard for health. Most store-bought vinaigrettes contain highly processed oils such as vegetable, canola, or soybean. The reason being, they’re inexpensive to manufacture and maintain lengthy shelf-lives. The problem with processed oils is that they’re subjected to destructive high-temperature processing methods. Such methods promote significant oxidative stress, and oxidative stress can damage cells, proteins, and DNA. Over time, this stress can lead to oxidative damage, effecting liver function, and contributing to aging.
What is Cold-Pressed Oil?
Cold pressing is the method of oil extraction without the use of high-heat. Cold-pressed oils maintain a higher standard of flavor and nutritional quality. And if you want to get really anal about it, I would suggest looking for the certifications from either the NAOOA (North American Olive Oil Association) or its European counterpart, IOC (International Olive Council.) Both seals will ensure the highest-quality olive oil.
Selecting Top-Notch Balsamic Vinegar
Traditional balsamic vinegar is the real deal. True balsamic vinegar is aged, promoting complex flavor and enhanced viscosity. Traditional balsamic comes in two classifications: Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena) and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia DOP (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia). These vinegars are aged for 12 to 25 years, making them perhaps more desirable and certainly more expensive.
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is the commercial-grade stuff. It requires a minimum aging of only 2 months. Naturally, the shortened process provides a friendlier price tag. However, you may be trading taste for savings. In order to mimic the flavor and texture of Traditional balsamic vinegar, commercial-grade products often add color and flavor enhancements. Just be sure to read the ingredients prior to purchasing, and avoid any balsamic that contains added colors and flavors.
How to Make Homemade Vinaigrette
Traditionally, homemade vinaigrettes call for a 3:1 ratio. Meaning 3 parts oil to 1 part acid. So if you want to make 1 cup of salad dressing, you’d use 3/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup of vinegar.
I prefer a more acidic experience— so I generally opt for a 2:1 ratio— your choice.
After selecting choice oil and vinegar, simply pour your desired ratio into a mason jar. Seal the cap and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. It’s seriously that easy!
Once you’ve got the basic principle down, there’s always the option to get all fancy with it. Many balsamic recipes call for an emulsifier such as mustard. Mustard will yield a creamier texture and saltier flavor. Other recipes call for a sweetener such as honey. Personally, I find balsamic sweet enough. Plus, if you’re trying to keep it keto, its best to opt-out of additional sweeteners.
Below are some ideas to inspire creativity. Play around. Experiment with your ratios and ingredients. Once you’re comfortable with the basics, try adding emulsifiers, invigorators and/or sweeteners. The variations are endless!
Oil serves as the base of any vinaigrette.
Adding acid will balance the oil and expand the flavor profile.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Champagne vinegar
- Fresh lemon juice
- Fresh lime juice
- Red wine vinegar
Invigorators add dimension and complexity to the vinaigrette. Fresh is always best.
Emulsifiers serve to bind and thicken the vinaigrette.
Sweeteners can soften or enhance the flavor.
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