Basil Vinaigrette

Tomato salad with basil vinaigrette

My sauce for the summer is this one: Basil Vinaigrette. Don’t get me wrong, I love pesto. But this basil-forward sauce has the punchy flavor of fresh herbs but takes less than a minute to blend together. And unlike its thicker cousin, this vinaigrette can be drizzled over everything, from fresh tomatoes and shelling beans, to risotto or roasted potatoes, and even fresh cheese, like burrata.

Tomato salad with basil vinaigrette

As soon as I see them, I start hoarding bunches of basil and fresh tomatoes at the market, never letting my supply run low. And keeping a container of this vinaigrette on hand means I can have lunch or dinner on the table quickly. But it also is a great sauce to bring along on a picnic, which we did the other night, enjoying the tranquility of Paris while most of the city clears out until the end of summer. (Although the next door neighbors, who had a wild party that lasted until 4:30am, didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to leave. Romain reminded them the next morning…in no uncertain terms.)

Tomato salad with basil vinaigrette

I am a big fan of fresh shelling beans, which come in pods and need to be shucked. It’s a bit of a task, but the rewards are well worth it. I do remember going to a dinner in Paris and about half the guests left most of the fresh shelling beans that had been so laboriously prepared, on their plates, which get cleared away after the meal was over. It was painful to see.

Shelling beans for Tomato salad with basil vinaigrette

For our picnic, I packed some sliced tomatoes and shelling beans, and picked up a package of burrata cheese at the fromagerie, and served those with spoonfuls of the basil vinaigrette over the top.

Shelling beans for Tomato salad with basil vinaigrette

Tomato salad with basil vinaigrette

I think there’s just a few weeks left for fresh basil, so I’m going to try to make this sauce as much as possible, until it runs out. But I know when it’s gone, next summer, I’ll have the perfect sauce recipe ready to go, that I can make in minutes.

Tomato salad with basil vinaigrette

Basil Vinaigrette
Print Recipe
Makes about 3/4 cup (160ml) vinaigrette
This especially lively vinaigrette is perfect with tomatoes, but also could go with a variety of other things – spooned over burrata, fresh mozzarella, or feta cheese. It could also accompany grilled vegetables, fish, pork, shrimp, or chicken, or you could spoon a little over white bean dip or labneh just before serving. Toss it with pasta? Why not? If you want to include fresh shelling beans with your tomatoes and burrata, as I did, they are easy to prepare. Shuck the beans and bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the beans and cook at a low boil for 20 to 25 minutes, until the beans are tender. Drain well, the toss in bowl with a generous pour of olive oil – enough so they are well-covered, and season with salt. You can add chopped basil to them if you wish, although the sauce provides plenty of basil flavor.
1/2 cup (125ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 small shallot (25g) peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon kosher or flaky sea salt
2 cups loosely (25g) packed fresh basil leaves
1. Put the olive oil, vinegar, water, shallot, mustard, and salt in a blender. Coarsely chop the basil leaves and immediately put them in the blender.
2. Cover the blender and mix on high-speed for 15 to 30 seconds until the vinaigrette is smooth. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add a little more water or olive oil to thin it out.

Serving and storage: The basil vinaigrette can be used right away or will keep for a week in the refrigerator. It’s best served at room temperature.


  • August 8, 2016 11:45am

    You can freeze “ice cubes” of basil suspended in olive oil. Haven’t tried that yet myself. The snails keep eating my basil before I can get to it (hey! escargot already seasoned!). Anyway, it’s a way to get your basil vinaigrette out of season–just thaw and add the other ingredients. It would pale in comparison with FRESH, but sometimes that’s better than nothing.

    • August 8, 2016 5:08pm

      I freeze mine in ice cubes all the time and it is great to have in winter. I have never kept it for more than 3 months but know that up to 3 months is good.

  • August 8, 2016 2:55pm


  • August 8, 2016 5:10pm

    I have loads of tomatoes and basil in my garden so will be trying this. I make a very similar one but have never added mustard, will try that. Sometimes I use lemon juice instead of vinegar- makes a great sauce for grilled fish.

  • August 8, 2016 5:23pm

    David – does the vinaigrette keep it’s lovely color, even after the first few hours?
    It seems anytime I use basil in a sauce, I end up with a sludgy grey mess, after a bit. Tastes good, but unappealing is an understatement!
    This looks fantastic, and I will definitely try it soon.

    • August 8, 2016 5:28pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes it does. I had kept one batch in the refrigerator for five days and it stayed nice and green.

    • Anjani
      September 1, 2016 10:41am

      You need to cover the exposed area with a slick of olive oil. That prevents oxidation and the sickly grey color. Just keep doing that until you’ve used it all up.

  • August 8, 2016 5:25pm

    Basil and mustard in a vinaigrette? I’d never have thought about it, but it looks fantastic.

  • Marilyn
    August 8, 2016 5:48pm

    Thank you for posting this recipe, it’s just what I’ve been looking for.

  • Stef
    August 8, 2016 6:54pm

    Do you think it would work with white or sherry vinegar?

    • August 8, 2016 7:03pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, but you might have to add more or less (to taste) because the acidity might be different.

  • Brenda Smith
    August 8, 2016 7:11pm

    David – would this turn out well using either a food processor or an immersion blender instead of a classic blender? Thanks!

  • Ronnie
    August 8, 2016 8:06pm

    Hi David! Would balsamic vinegar work as well?

  • August 8, 2016 8:34pm
    David Lebovitz

    Ronnie: I don’t use commercial balsamic vinegar because it’s too sweet, and prefer more acidity. Not sure the caramel flavors of that vinegar would go well with basil.

    Brenda: It wouldn’t get as smooth with a food processor but a stick blender would work although I find they don’t get things as smooth as a standard blender unless you have one of those “pro” or pricey ones.

    • Ronnie
      August 8, 2016 9:02pm

      Thanks! I always use a fig balsamic vinegar when I make caprese salad and love it with the basil, but I will try it your way

    • Brenda
      August 10, 2016 6:10pm

      Thank you, David!

  • jwg
    August 8, 2016 10:04pm

    What are shelling beans?

  • August 8, 2016 11:19pm

    Excellent recipe and gorgeous table setting. That’s summer dining!

  • August 8, 2016 11:41pm

    I just made this using white wine vinegar as suggested, and it is fabulously yummy! Thinking of using it on pasta as I find regular pesto too thick and cloying. Thanks David!
    I enjoyed watching your life feed of all the great stuff you bought out in the country. I too, am a big fan of country brocantes, and my suitcases are stuffed to overflowing when I fly home to Toronto.

  • Arturo Quesada
    August 9, 2016 1:52am

    David, try this in your mortar and pestle! Used to do a similar basil vinaigrette like this and works out nicely.

  • Darius
    August 9, 2016 12:59pm

    Looks delicious! Think it would be great with some chargrilled courgettes and cannellini beans. Dinner one night this week for sure

  • August 9, 2016 1:16pm

    I always make my own salad dressings and my go to is extra virgin olive oil, dijon mustard and white wine vinegar in similar ratios to the ones you have used.

    The addition of basil and the shallot makes this sound really great, I’ll definitely be trying this!

  • Gayle
    August 9, 2016 5:21pm

    To poster #1, to keep snails, as well as flying critters away from your basil, keep a spray bottle full of a few drops of dish washing liquid and water. After each rain, spray the basil plant lightly.

    Just remember to swish your clipped basil before you use it. I’ve forgotten and gotten a mouthful of suds. Yuck.

  • Nanci Courtney
    August 9, 2016 5:29pm

    I do a basil dressing with fresh ginger – super good! Fresh basil makes everybody happy!

  • May
    August 9, 2016 5:55pm

    David – ever since Kenji Lopez-Alt (Serious Eats Food Lab) concluded that whizzing olive oil with a blender tends to turn the flavour bitter/sour (he explains the technical hows and whys as well), I’ve whipped or blended by hand instead. Have you had this problem?

    • August 11, 2016 6:58am
      David Lebovitz

      I haven’t noticed that happening with the olive oil (and I know people often use blenders to make mayonnaise.) I didn’t read Kenji’s article but I’ve made this vinaigrette a number of times in a blender, using good-quality olive oil, and it was delicious.

  • Shari
    August 9, 2016 6:36pm

    I love the vessel that’s holding the vinaigrette. Is there a name for that kind of glass?

    • Ellie
      August 9, 2016 10:30pm

      It looks like a vintage chemistry beaker. I have a similar version that I got at an antique store–it has measurements etched on one side and the initials of the chemist it belonged to. I use it for mixing drinks.

  • August 9, 2016 6:45pm

    I’d love to try this recipe. I’m growing basil and have been making a lot of pesto. This would be a nice change!

  • Risottogirl
    August 9, 2016 7:08pm

    I love basil vinaigrette for all the same reasons…I find it keeps better if I quickly blanch the basil.

  • August 9, 2016 7:28pm

    This sounds wonderful – I love anything green – especially with some vinegar – oh yum!
    Thank You!!

  • August 9, 2016 7:56pm

    Looks perfect, will try it!

  • Diana Leon
    August 9, 2016 8:01pm

    The vessel is a piece of lab glass called a Graduate used for measuring. I recently found one that is quite old with a hand engraved warning that reads “condemned”. Not planning to use that one for food!

  • ISM
    August 9, 2016 8:40pm

    I was just thinking about the basil in my frig and now 5 min later a lovely basil vinaigrette. now off to the farmers market for some tomatoes and buratta. I love summer on Cape Cod.

  • Terry
    August 9, 2016 9:30pm

    I just made this from basil in my garden.
    The smell is intoxicating and the taste

    Thank you, David!

  • Bianca
    August 9, 2016 10:36pm Saw this post this morning; made it just now a couple hours later. Yes, yes, a thousand times YES! Stunningly delicious. I used white wine vin. Will be in the rotation.

  • Maureen
    August 9, 2016 10:39pm

    I returned to Lisbon after 3 weeks away to an insane amount of basil — and then this recipe appeared! On the first night, I used it on a white bean and octopus salad, on the second night on black beans and rice, and on the third over whole, roasted sea bass. I’m not sure which was the more delicious. Thanks — a keeper!!

  • Gavrielle
    August 9, 2016 11:49pm

    Wow, why have I never thought of putting basil in vinaigrette? In the summer I grow a tiny forest of basil in my laundry (the sunniest room in the house, sigh) and I’m always looking for new uses for it. This definitely has cheered a cold New Zealand winter day!

  • Agnes
    August 10, 2016 1:13am

    Just made it! So so good! And so easy! THANK YOU!

  • LWood
    August 10, 2016 3:40am

    Ah, I would ache for those beans left on the plates! But I’m feeling so lucky because I have shelling beans and basil growing my garden. And the Zingermans burrata is only a quick stop on my bus ride home. Add a new basil vinaigrette recipe to share with mia bella figlia who is soon to visit from the west coast. Sharing burrata is our favorite summer past time. There will be no beans left. Thank you for the lovely posts.

    • Judy
      August 11, 2016 9:28pm

      What type of beans do you plant for shelling?

      • LWood
        August 20, 2016 11:05pm

        Scarlet runner beans, haricot d’Espagne. They are beautiful red flowers for hummingbirds. I haven’t tried the beans yet.

        • judy
          August 23, 2016 6:31pm

          Great suggestion! Thanks! At what stage do I harvest the beans. Should the casing be shrunken and drying, or still moist??

  • fishsticksforme
    August 10, 2016 4:37am

    Oh sheesh that cup is beautiful! You find the prettiest serving pieces!

  • jen
    August 10, 2016 7:47am

    Wow, this is So. Good. I also hoard tomatoes and basil when they show up and could happily eat them all day. This vinaigrette is great on tomatoes, chicken, and I’m sure whatever else I put it on. Thanks for sharing, this is definitely a keeper!

  • August 10, 2016 12:22pm

    You had me at basil vinaigrette + burrata!!! Can’t wait to try that with some fresh summer tomatoes alongside. Grazie mille!!!

  • Maria Ortega
    August 10, 2016 5:42pm

    Hi David! Definitely going to make this, it looks very yummy. Would you mind adding a “Print” icon on your blog, especially for printing recipes? I haven’t figured out how to print the recipes except cutting and pasting onto word then print..otherwise, you print the entire post and it’s a waste of paper! Thank you!

    Read more about that here – dl

  • Cookie
    August 10, 2016 7:20pm

    Has anyone tried freezing this for the winter or even canning it? This is really wonderful!!

  • Maria Gillette
    August 11, 2016 6:32am

    Thank you David. We made this tonight and served it with Salade Nicoise. After elbowing in for the last bit of vinaigrette, I caught my husband licking our plates while he did the dishes. That Good!

  • Lucy salenger
    August 11, 2016 5:34pm

    Deeelicious, David. And easy, too. I am overrun with my own basil, and I will dry the rest to take to chicago to make this dressing there.
    I have loved your column and your humor for years.
    thanks so much.

  • Al Mullery
    August 11, 2016 7:17pm

    No garlic?

  • August 12, 2016 11:05pm

    Looks perfect! Using it tonight with my over-abundant garden basil, some fresh tortellini, warm tomatoes, thinly-sliced red onion, and sautéed yellow zucchini. Thanks!

  • Toni
    August 13, 2016 2:54am

    The flavor of this is wonderful – I’ll be coating my pasta with it tonight. I greatly appreciate the weight provided for some of the ingredients – makes measuring so much easier for certain things (loose-packed basil, “small” shallot. THANK YOU.

  • mary anne
    August 14, 2016 2:58am

    just made this sauce and super awesome…very refreshing. Thanks for sharing.

  • Laura by the Bay
    August 14, 2016 5:18pm

    Thanks for including “you might also like” section of your posting. Your photo of the cherry tomatoes, avocado, corn and basil salad inspired me. It is so simple and delicious. The rest of the meal did not matter after the first taste of this salad. Thank you!

  • Deborah
    August 14, 2016 8:16pm

    and … You can freeze shelling beans and have them all year long as well. Shell them and freeze in appropriate sized packets. To use, put the beans from a packet into a pot of boiling, salted water and cook for about 20 – 25 minutes.

  • May
    August 14, 2016 10:42pm

    This sauce is absolutely delicious! It is perfect with steak as well as in a grilled cheese sandwich. Thank you for sharing.

  • Meghan
    August 15, 2016 12:04pm

    Gorgeous ring on the finger of the hands opening the burrata!

  • Rosemary
    August 15, 2016 5:24pm

    Thank you, David for putting the weight of the basil leaves in also. For years, I made Jacques Pepin’s Pistou with varying results, as it called for 1 cup of basil leaves and it all depended on the harvest and the mood of the day. Finally, I got smart (took years) and weighed the leaves. Obviously, you are smarter. Made vinaigrette yesterday and it was delicious on everything!

  • NancyML
    August 16, 2016 5:26pm

    My gosh! This packs such a huge punch of flavor! Lunch today is leftover cold grilled chicken breast, artisan cherry tomatoes warm from the garden and rinsed, drained canned cannellini beans, all drizzled with this vinaigrette. As for fresh shelling beans, they are just another item for the garden must-grow list next year.

    My basil has done so well this year, I have had 4 harvests so far, before the basil downy mildew sets in. There are two batches of this vinaigrette in the freezer, in ice cube portions, along with 24 individual ounces of pesto, to bring back summer in the dead of cold next winter.

  • NancyML
    August 16, 2016 5:37pm

    Cookie….I have frozen it successfully, having first blanched the basil. Portioned into silicone ice cube trays, then transferred into “FoodSaver” airtight packages just this morning.

    I wouldn’t think canning would be the way to go. I suspect all that heat would destroy the beautiful green qualities of the basil. Think of what fresh basil looks like after it’s been cooked in a tomato sauce …..not so pretty and green anymore.

  • Kate Turner
    August 16, 2016 8:26pm

    I regularly make a huge batch of pesto at the end of the summer, freeze it in individual portions in a plastic ice cube tray, put the frozen cubes into plastic bags, and use it all winter. I even use it into the summer until the fresh basil is ready. Is it as good as the freshly made stuff? No, probably not. But it’s better than anything you could buy, and than not having it!

  • Claudia
    August 16, 2016 9:06pm

    Fantastic over whole roasted cauliflower. Super easy and silky smooth in my little bullet blender. So amazingly good, it makes me want to search for more and more of your outstanding recipes

  • August 17, 2016 3:02am

    Just finished your wonderful book “My Sweet Life in Paris”. Just wanted to say I loved this book; so fun to read. I read it on my way to Paris and laughed so much I am not sure that people didn’t think I was crazy. Thank you for a fun read.

    And this is a delicious recipe.

  • Lynne
    August 17, 2016 3:18am

    I waited a week to make this with great anticipation. I made the vinaigrette tonight and it did not disappoint. I drizzled over a small salad containing home grown tomatoes, raw cauliflower, red onion, and cannellini beans. I added a few toasted slivered almonds on top. Will become a regular recipe at our home. Thanks for sharing David!

  • August 17, 2016 4:28pm

    This is certainly no disappointment of a recipe, this is fabulous! I made it for the family and had only positive feedback. Thank you for sharing this!

  • JoAnn Aguirre
    August 19, 2016 8:09pm

    Could this delicious concoction be canned (processed) for pantry storage and future use?

    • August 20, 2016 10:45am
      David Lebovitz

      Personally, I don’t like to heat fresh basil as it loses what makes it so special. But it’s likely you could.

  • Rachel
    August 20, 2016 10:00pm

    I made this last night, but had to use 2x basil and more water to make it thinner because at first it tasted mostly of mustard. I have a strong mustard and maybe my basil was weak? In any case, it came out beautifully. Served it with cherry tomatoes, blanched green beans and roasted peppers. Every guest asked for the recipe, I forwarded the link. Thank you, this is a really lovely sauce I never would have dreamed up on my own.

  • Lark
    August 21, 2016 1:21am

    David, yours has been my favorite food blog for ages, and I’ve made so many of your recipes, but this is my first comment. Today I made your basil vinaigrette and it’s better than pesto! The flavor, following your precise instructions, was perfect. I deviated only in that I used the food processor because I don’t have a blender and opted not to use the immersion blender. I was very happy with the result. Today I used the basil vinaigrette atop heirloom tomatoes fresh from my Farmers’ Market, plus burrata from the FM, and it was divine. I’m going to love using the rest of the basil vinaigrette in more dishes this week. Thank you for a truly inspiring recipe!

  • donna lynn houston
    August 24, 2016 3:57am

    We love this dressing on salads, but tonight, we used it to marinate chicken breasts and grilled them. We roasted fingerling potatoes with basil and garlic and pancetta and had a side of cooked carrots. Lovely dinner. We toasted you with our glasses of wine. Thank you, David! You’re the best!

  • Nancy W
    August 26, 2016 2:22am

    I made this today and stirred it in with 1 inch mozzarella balls. OMG!
    This is the best!!!!! I can’t wait to try it on my salad tomorrow.
    My hubby went crazy over it.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • August 26, 2016 12:45pm

    Tried this summer and realy good recipe ! I made your shell beans and tomate salad with, it was delicious ! thanks !

  • andrea
    August 27, 2016 10:26pm

    I made this today with my abundance of basil…drizzled over some grilled zucchini, oh my goodness….

  • Kate
    August 28, 2016 9:31pm

    I made this last week and used it on everything I could think of – fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, as part of a sauce for ravioli, on chicken, on salad, and on roasted summer squash. It’s great – so nice to know a new, delicious way to use basil!

  • September 1, 2016 11:24am

    You could freeze some of that dressing in ice cubes and enjoy summer a little more.
    I pour home made pesto (a little diluted) on my fresh beans (shelled or green) and on thin grilled slices of courgette or eggplant, so I can see this would totally work, also on a regular salad (or grilled romaine lettuce).

  • September 5, 2016 3:44pm

    I made this to take on a camping trip and just put it on top of halved cherry tomatoes–it was a HUGE hit. Perfect camping salad. Thank you!

  • susan
    September 6, 2016 5:44pm

    Have made this 3 times and have spooned it over fresh tomatoes and mozarella di bufala. I think I do like it a bit better than pesto. I am using a red zinfandel wine vinegar from California. Thank you for this recipe David


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