When you need a quick and easy salad dressing, this maple balsamic vinaigrette is perfect! It’s lightly sweet and tangy – made with 4 simple ingredients. Naturally vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free!
I’ve been there too… that dinner rush where you have a delicious main dish figured out but then it hits you: what about the side dishes?! And that feeling of ‘I gotta get a veggie in here somehow’ when you remember that bag of mixed green salad is just sitting in the fridge as another week passes by…
In such situations, I present to you the easiest Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette. This dressing is made with just 4 simple ingredients (plus S&P) and can be made in like…2 minutes just in the shake of a jar.
So yes, it’s easy and quick to make for those weeknight rushes…but it’s elegant and flavorful enough to serve with holiday side salads, too. There’s no limit to this delectable salad dressing!
P.S. it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian, too!
What is Balsamic Vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar is an intensely flavored vinegar that is thick and syrupy, with a sweetness to it. It originates from Modena, Italy, where it’s made from grape must (freshly crushed fruit juice with skins, seeds, and all). It’s known for its bold, complex flavors and is aged in barrels — for years if it’s the good stuff.
There’s a huge difference between high-quality, aged balsamic and budget balsamic.
The cheap stuff is often watery, sour tasting, and just all-around not-so-good. Because it will last basically forever it’s worth it to invest in the good stuff for recipes where it will shine (like bruschetta, on veggies, or as a glaze on pizza).
What is a Vinaigrette?
A vinaigrette is a salad dressing, made with oil and an acid, usually vinegar or lemon juice. It can have added spices and herbs for a variety of flavors. It’s usually made with a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar so that the result is a stable emulsion (i.e. it doesn’t separate), but a variety of ratios can be used.
4 Simple Ingredients
While you can absolutely customize this dressing with additional flavors…like my favorite fresh garlic and shallot like I use in this wheat berry salad …it’s not the most ideal for the last-minute-dressing pinch when you have two minutes and want no dishes.
To keep things simple yet ultra flavorful, we’re using:
- High-Quality Balsamic Vinegar: if you missed it above, using high-quality aged balsamic in dressings is a game-changer. No more overly tart and acidic vinegar, but rather a sweet, tangy irresistible balsamic.
- Pure Maple Syrup: it’s gotta be 100% real, pure maple syrup! None of that imitation syrup you find in the pancake aisle, please!
- Olive Oil: our emulsifier, olive oil helps combine the ingredients and gives it an added creamy boost. The quality factor plays a role here, too. High-quality olive oil is key to achieving the best-tasting dressing. Use infused olive oils to mix up the recipe!
- Garlic Powder: you don’t have to include garlic powder, but garlic is always a welcome addition to dressings, IMO, and using garlic powder means you save time on mincing garlic, too!
- Salt and Black Pepper: two seasonings that we’re not counting in our 4 ingredient total. You’ll likely only need a tiny bit of salt, and a little more black pepper for some oomph. Add them to taste.
- Optional – Dijon Mustard: adding a pinch of dijon mustard in dressings helps emulsify it and gives it a little extra tang and creaminess. You can totally leave this out if you prefer, too.
If you don’t need a 2-minute dressing and want to jazz it up to say, a 5-minute dressing, add a clove of minced garlic and a half tablespoon of finely chopped shallot.
You can easily customize this dressing and jazz it up in a variety of ways!
- Use a fresh garlic clove to add a little pizazz to the dressing
- Similarly, finely chopped shallot is another zinger to add
- Whisk in fresh thyme or rosemary for delicious herbiness
- Or add in dried Italian seasoning
- Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to make it tangier
How to Make a Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Friends, if you haven’t made dressing in a jar before, your world is about to be rocked.
That’s right, we’re mixing up dressing in a jar – with a lid – because shaking it all up is so much easier to do than whisking in the slow drizzle of oil.
Now, you absolutely can go ahead and whisk it together if you prefer, but this recipe is on a mission to make a fast, easy, flavorful dressing that requires the least amount of…everything. Including effort.
So add the ingredients to a jar with a lid, put that lid on tight, and shake vigorously until the ingredients are combined. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper levels as needed (or anything else as noted above).
Ways to Use Maple Balsamic Dressing
My favorite way to enjoy maple balsamic vinaigrette is to toss it with a mixed greens salad with sunflower seeds, dried fruit – like cranberries or cherries – and thinly sliced parmesan. It’s a delicious, flavorful, simple salad that does the trick every time.
But you don’t just have to use it on simple green salads – spinach or otherwise! This dressing is great drizzled on roasted vegetables or broccolini (especially with those parm shavings!). It also pairs well with brussels sprouts – roasted, air-fried, or sauteed. Add some goat cheese or blue cheese – both excellent pairings with this dressing.
Use it in a bruschetta salad or even with bruschetta for a sweeter take on the dressing, or drizzle it on grilled peach flatbread in place of the honey. It also works as a marinade for chicken or steak.
How to Store Homemade Dressing
This is more of a small batch recipe considering it makes just over 1/3 cup, which comes out to about 5-6 servings if you consider just around 2 tablespoons for a large individual salad.
So you could use it all in a sitting, or you could not. If you do have leftovers, simply put the lid back on the jar you mixed it up in (yes, we’re saving dishes, too!).
Then, store it in the fridge for up to two weeks and use it as needed.
Help, I stored it in the fridge and it is too thick now! If this happens, it’s totally normal. Olive oil will harden as it sits in the fridge. Simply remove the jar from the fridge 10-15 minutes before serving, give it a good shake right before you’re ready, and it will be back to drizzling consistency.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 ½ Tablespoons high-quality aged balsamic vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons high-quality extra virgin olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder, or 1 clove, pressed or finely minced
- ¼ + ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ – 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, optional
- Add all the ingredients to a jar and shake really well until emulsified. Be sure to taste test for salt levels, and enjoy! Otherwise, whisk together all ingredients except for the oil; then, while whisking, drizzle in the oil until combined.
- Be sure to taste test and adjust salt and pepper levels. See the post for more details on variations and adjustments. Toss with your favorite salad or use as desired.
- Store in an airtight container (the jar if using that method) in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If it hardens, simply let it come to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes and give it a good shake before using.
- Serving size: makes just over 1/3 cup of dressing, which will serve about 6 with a scant 2 tablespoons of dressing per serving.
- Simple Salad: toss with mixed green, seeds or nuts, and dried fruits.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.