Sauces, dressings & jam

Classic French dressing


Classic French dressing is the perfect all purpose dressing for summer garden salads. Classic French dressing adds just the right tangy and creamy flavor to salad greens and fresh vegetables. This is a great time of year to enjoy a wide variety of local salad greens.

A jar of classic French dressing. A yellow juicer in the background. Fresh thyme herbs at the side.
Classic French dressing is a flavor burst for your garden salads

Classic French dressing consists of extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, an acid (usually in the form of lemon juice but also can include red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar) and fresh herbs. Fresh herbs recommended include tarragon, oregano and thyme. While you can change it up and select the herbs and vinegar to your preferred taste, I follow the recipe I learned in culinary classes.

Did you think French dressing should be orange? Don’t be fooled by that orange stuff in the grocery store. It’s not real French dressing. This is!

A mixing bowl with classic French dressing, a whisk in the middle, thyme on the side, Dijon mustard on the side.
Combine everything in a mixing bowl and whisk

French dressing formula

Did you know there is a basic formula to follow when you make your own dressing? I learned this formula for French dressing in culinary classes. This recipe yields 1/2 cup of dressing. It is a perfect amount for several salads. You can store fresh dressing in a jar in the fridge for several days. When you are ready to use it, simply take it out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature before shaking it up to emulsify it before use.

The basic formula for 1/2 cup of fresh homemade dressing is 6:2.

This means six tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to two tablespoons of acid (lemon juice or vinegar). Then additional flavorings are added, such as Dijon mustard, fresh herbs and of course salt and pepper. Easy right?! It’s one of the most versatile and delicious homemade dressings to have on hand.

Overhead view of classic French dressing in a jar. Fresh thyme and oregano on the side. A yellow juicer on the side.

How to make classic French dressing

It’s easy. Add all the ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk it up. Store the dressing in a glass container or jar. Yes, you need to re-emulsify the dressing before use again, but you can rest easy knowing that your homemade dressing is free of nasty preservatives and chemicals known to bother sensitive stomachs.

Green lettuce growing in a planter box. Perfect greens for classic French dressing.
Fresh home grown lettuce greens

What you’ll need to make classic French dressing

  • Extra virgin olive oil (use a good quality)
  • Lemon juice
  • Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • Generous pinch fine sea salt and ground pepper
Oregano growing in the garden. A bright green color.
Oregano growing in the garden

Fresh herbs

Fresh herbs are the best. Finely dice the herbs. I love the combination of fresh oregano and thyme. It’s a Mediterranean classic. By the way, oregano and thyme grow very easily in our moderate Northwest climate. These pictures here of the herbs are from my garden. They are beautiful fragrant plants that attract bees to the border garden. I love them.

Thyme growing in the garden. Small green leaves and little lavender flowers.
Thyme growing in the garden

In a pinch you can use dried herbs. Dried herbs can be quite potent, so use less dry than fresh. If I am using a dried herb mix, I usually only use one teaspoon.

Have you had fresh homemade French dressing before? I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments.

Happy cooking,


Classic French dressing

Recipe by MichelleCourse: Sauces, dressings & jamCuisine: FrenchDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking timeminutes

Classic French dressing is the perfect all purpose dressing for summer garden salads. Classic French dressing adds just the right tangy and creamy flavor to salad greens and fresh vegetables.


  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped

  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • Fresh ground pepper to taste


  • Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk until it is emulsified. Season to taste.
  • The dressing can be stored in an airtight glass container (such as a jar) for several days in the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge and bring to room temperature before use. Shake or whisk to re-emulsify.


  • Variations include: Substituting red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar for lemon juice.
  • Other fresh herbs to try include tarragon, basil or cilantro.

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