Who doesn’t love the tangy, sweet flavor of a good balsamic vinaigrette dressing? We certainly do! In fact, here at That Salad Lady, we believe the only thing better than classic balsamic vinaigrette dressing is creamy balsamic vinaigrette dressing. There’s just something about a creamy salad dressing that helps you feel fuller and a bit more satisfied, especially when it’s packed with quality ingredients like ours is.
If you’ve never made or even had a creamy balsamic vinaigrette dressing, you are really in for a treat. An absolutely delicious and totally craveable mix of dark balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) and coconut yogurt, the recipe itself is dairy-free and gluten-free, vegan-friendly and low in carbs. With just a handful of easy-to-find ingredients, it’s super simple to make and on your salad to enjoy in just five minutes.
THE BALANCING ACT
As we’ve already mentioned our recipe calls for dark balsamic vinegar, EVOO and coconut yogurt, which collectively deliver rich, creamy and tangy flavors and a whole lot of good nutrition. Balsamic vinegar is a deep, brown-colored, thick and rather sweet vinegar made from freshly pressed or crushed grapes.
As the quality of your balsamic vinegar will determine the texture and overall flavor profile of your vinaigrette, you don’t want to just grab any old brand off the shelf. Below, we talk about some things you should look for when choosing balsamic vinegar, specifically for our vinaigrette dressing. Then there’s EVOO, which perfectly complements the balsamic vinegar. While it does pack in some calories, EVOO more than makes up for that in health-promoting benefits.
Finally, the rich, creamy taste and hint of sweetness, that comes with coconut yogurt is what really brings this dressing to life. Coconut yogurt is a good plant-based source of probiotics, especially if you’re dairy-averse or follow a vegan diet. Enhanced with the sweetness of honey and mild, spicy tang of Dijon-style mustard this is a recipe you’ll definitely want to save.
Let’s talk more about what’s in our Perfectly Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing recipe and why.
The Mellow Tartness of Balsamic Vinegar
Classic balsamic vinegar offers a mellow, slightly sweet tartness that can bring practically any dressing to life. However, we recommend choosing your brand wisely. Many contain artificial colorings and other additives, which can change the entire flavor of your finished dressing. Quality is key.
Luckily, most grocery stores stock a good amount of high-quality brands at reasonable prices. Look for brands that list “grape must” as a first ingredient, not just “balsamic vinegar.” Some brands may also contain wine vinegar, but the presence of “must” is a good indicator of higher quality. The must is the freshly crushed juice that contains the skins, seeds and stems of the grapes used.
It’s the must that gives balsamic vinegar its naturally sweet flavor and thick texture. The must is also a good source of antioxidants and other valuable nutrients.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for Robust Flavor
With its distinctly fruity and pepper taste, it delivers sweet and savory flavors that both elevate and balance out the overall taste profile of the balsamic vinegar. In and of itself, EVOO is naturally rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and monounsaturated fats. These are generally referred to as “good” fats (study up in our Nutrition Glossary to learn more about EVOO).
As with balsamic vinegar, you want to choose a good quality EVOO.
Look for cold-pressed varieties, as these undergo minimal processing without the use of heat or chemicals. They’re generally packed in dark glass bottles as opposed to plastic. The resulting EVOO has a golden-yellow appearance and delivers a rich pungent flavor with just enough fruitiness to complement the balsamic vinegar.
Coconut Yogurt for Creamy Goodness
Our recipe calls for coconut yogurt, which is a dairy-free, easily digestible, coconut milk yogurt alternative that offers a creamy, thick consistency very similar to Greek-style yogurt. That Salad Lady generally uses plain “So Delicious® Dairy Free Unsweetened Plain Coconutmilk Yogurt” for the recipe. Like Greek-style yogurt, this particular brand contains live and active cultures and is filled with health-promoting probiotics.
You can easily substitute the coconut yogurt for Greek-style yogurt if consuming dairy isn’t an issue. In this case, That Salad Lady typically uses “FAGE® Total Plain Greek Yogurt” or “Siggi’s® Whole Milk Yogurt.”
Hints of Honey, Dijon and Garlic for the Finish
Combining the natural sweetness and mild flavor of honey with the sharp, tangy taste of Dijon truly brings out the best in our creamy balsamic vinaigrette dressing. These flavors are even more enhanced by the savory, aromatic qualities of freshly minced garlic. While you can use jarred minced garlic as a “shortcut,” we don’t recommend doing this. Jarred versions tend to have “off” flavors, which may be detectable in your finished dressing.
Largely comprised of natural sugars, honey contains a unique combination of phytonutrients that function as powerful antioxidants. We suggest using 100% pure honey for our dressing, as most phytonutrients are lost when it’s overly processed. For the Dijon, we suggest using a grainy-style variety. As implied by the description, has a “gritty” texture and also adds great bite to the blend.
Once you’ve gathered all the other ingredients for the dressing the hard work is pretty much done. At this point, you’ll simply blend or mix the ingredients to your desired consistency. If using a blender or food processor, just add all your ingredients and start mixing. With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth. That’s it!
If you don’t have a blender or a food processor no sweat. Simply add all the ingredients to a jar with a twist off lid and just shake it up until everything’s well-mixed. You can also combine and whisk all your ingredients together in a bowl.
The Versatility of Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette
Our Perfectly Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing recipe makes 6-8 flavor-packed servings (2-3 tablespoons per serving). In addition to elevating the taste and nutritional profile of practically any salad bowl, it also makes a great sauce for poultry and seafood. Try it on That Salad Lady’s “Hearty Kale Cobb Salad” or “No-Cook Chickpea Salad.”
We recommend transferring any leftover dressing to an airtight sealed container and then storing it in the fridge. It’ll last for up to five days.
SHOW US YOUR WORK
That Salad Lady wants to see all your great work. If you enjoy our Perfectly Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.
Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette DressingCourse: DressingCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Dairy-free, vegan-friendly and low in carbs, our “Perfectly Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette” dressing is rich in flavor and ready in 5 minutes.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar*
3 tablespoons coconut yogurt**
2 tablespoons pure honey***
1 tablespoon Dijon-style grainy mustard
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced or whole****
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Gather all the ingredients and add them to your blender or food processor.
- With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth.
- If you don’t have a blender or a food processor, simply add all the ingredients to a jar with a twist off lid or even a bowl and just shake or whisk until everything’s well-mixed.
- Use the dressing on a salad or as a sauce for poultry or fish. Transfer any leftover dressing to an airtight sealed container and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- *Look for brands that list “grape must” as a first ingredient, not just “balsamic vinegar.” It’s the must that gives balsamic vinegar its naturally sweet flavor and thick texture. Also be on the lookout for ingredients like “caramel coloring” on the label, as this is indicative of lower quality.
- **Choose a coconut yogurt brand with “live and active cultures” listed on the product packaging. Start with the recommended 3 tablespoons and add more as needed for a creamier consistency. You can also substitute the coconut yogurt for Greek-style yogurt if consuming dairy isn’t an issue.
- ***For a full vegan salad dressing just swap out the honey for your favorite maple syrup.
- ****While you can use jarred minced garlic as a “shortcut,” we don’t recommend doing this. Jarred versions tend to have “off” flavors, which may be detectable in your finished dressing.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.