How to Make Oil-Free Vinaigrettes

The classic recipe for a vinaigrette is pretty simple: one part vinegar to two or three parts oil. So, what do you do when you want to make the savory salad dressing without all that oil?

Understanding Vinaigrettes

To start, you have to understand the role that the oil plays in a vinaigrette. First, the oil tames the tang of the vinegar, which would be too sharp if used in enough quantities on its own for a salad. Oil coats salad ingredients better than vinegar (which is about 95 percent water). It also helps suspend flavorings in the dressing so that they’re evenly distributed throughout a salad.

Replacing Oil in Vinaigrettes

There are lots of taming-coating-sticking options other than oil that can be used to make vinaigrettes. A spoonful of nutritional yeast mellows a 2-Minute Oil-Free Balsamic Dressing. A touch of maple syrup helps emulsify sauces like our Classic Dijon Dressing. Fruit purées, such as the applesauce in our Magical Applesauce Vinaigrette and the fig purée in our Balsamic Fig Dressing add complex flavor. And fruit juice can be used as a luscious, oil-free base in tangy salad sauces including our Orange Sesame Ginger Dressing and Pomegranate Tarragon Dressing.

One of the easiest ways to replace oil in a vinaigrette is to switch it out for a mixture of water and seeds: specifically, chia, hemp, or ground flaxseeds. Commonly used as egg replacers in vegan baking, these three seeds create a thickened “slurry” when mixed with water. The result is a neutral-tasting liquid that holds other ingredients in suspension – and can be used in a basic vinaigrette that has less than 1 gram of fat per serving.

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