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Best Maple Balsamic Dressing (2 Minutes)

Salads are part of a healthy diet, but they definitely need dressing up to become unique and tempting. Enter homemade maple balsamic dressing – sweet, tangy, rich, bold and earthy.

The sweetness of maple syrup, the sweet-tartness of balsamic vinegar, and the complexity of garlic, lemon juice and Dijon mustard will take an ordinary salad to the next level.

pitcher of maple balsamic dressing pouring onto a bowl of salad.

And don’t just consider pairing this homemade salad dressing with your favorite salads. It’s a versatile dressing that is also wonderful drizzled on veggies, fish, chicken or pork.

Bottom line: This easy maple balsamic dressing – or balsamic vinaigrette – is one of my go-to salad dressing recipes. It packs a real flavor punch, it only takes 2 minutes to make and everyone loves it.

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, Dijon, lemon juice, salt & pepper, olive oil

Balsamic vinegar – Get the best you can afford. It will make a difference. See ‘what kind of balsamic vinegar to buy’ below. And yes, there are substitutes.

Other dressing ingredients – The remaining simple ingredients include Dijon mustard, pure maple syrup, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Variations and Substitutes

  1. Try white balsamic vinegar instead of dark. It’s less intense and won’t turn your dressing dark.
  2. Add a dash of mayonnaise for a creamier dressing.
  3. Whisk in some finely chopped herbs like fresh thyme or oregano.
  4. Substitutes
    • honey to replace maple syrup
    • orange juice to replace the lemon juice
    • honey mustard or prepared mustard to replace the Dijon

Step by step instructions

ingredients for maple balsamic dressing in small plastic container.
Add all dressing ingredients to a small sealable container.
maple balsamic dressing in plastic container with lid beside it.
Lock the lid on the container and shake well. Done!
pitcher of finished maple balsamic dressing on a plate.
pitcher of maple balsamic dressing pouring onto a bowl of salad.

What kind of balsamic vinegar to buy

Ideally, you will want to use good quality, aged balsamic vinegar. The best versions will list “grape must, tradizionale” in the ingredients and are aged for over 12 years. The texture will be thick (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon) and have a tease of sweetness along with a bit of tartness.

The top contenders can be pretty expensive though. Perhaps a splurge for special occasions and if you’re using just a small amount for a recipe.

You don’t have to buy the most expensive kind. The price will be lower if the balsamic vinegar has aged for less time. Since we’re adding other ingredients, a decent-quality balsamic will work fine. There are many fans of Kirkland Signature Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, made by Costco in partnership with a Modena-based company Acetum.

Tip: Avoid the cheap grocery store balsamic vinegar versions that are thin, watery, and way too acidic.

Most kinds of balsamic vinegar are vegan, but check the label to be sure.

If you don’t have balsamic vinegar, check out a couple of substitutes in the FAQs.

Recipe FAQs

What is a good substitute for balsamic vinegar?

Red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, or white wine vinegar – with a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup – are decent substitutes for balsamic vinegar on a 1:1 basis. They won’t have the same complex flavor profile as a good balsamic vinegar but will work fine in this recipe. Start with a bit less and adjust the amount to your taste.

Can I use balsamic reduction or glaze instead of balsamic vinegar?

You can definitely use balsamic reduction instead of balsamic vinegar if you need to. But since it is much sweeter, I suggest cutting back on the maple syrup in the dressing.

How much salad dressing do I need per serving?

The typical serving of salad dressing is 2 tablespoons, although many people use more.

What is a vinaigrette?

A vinaigrette consists of oil and vinegar (or another acidic component) as the base. Often mustard is used as an emulsifier to blend them together. Sweeteners and herbs add flavor and complexity.

How to use maple balsamic dressing

On salads: This flavorful dressing is a great addition to a simple salad but also for beetroot and orange salad or fig and pomegranate salad. We also use it on our popular roasted vegetable salad with quinoa (fondly known as our party salad or 3-in-1 side dish).

Other delicious ways to use this dressing:

Shortcuts

  • Use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemons.
  • Use minced garlic from a jar, tube or in frozen cube form.

Make ahead

This maple balsamic dressing will last in the fridge in an airtight container for about 2 weeks. If you have any leftover dressing, keep it in a lock-and-seal container or transfer it to a small mason jar with a tight-fitting lid.

pitcher of maple balsamic dressing pouring onto a bowl of salad.

More homemade dressings

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pitcher of maple balsamic dressing pouring onto a bowl of salad.
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5 from 6 votes

Best Maple Balsamic Dressing (2 minutes)

Salads are part of a healthy diet, but they definitely need dressing up to become unique and tempting. Enter homemade maple balsamic dressing – sweet, tangy, rich, bold and earthy
Total Time2 minutes
Course: salad dressing
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 8 tablespoons

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon good quality Balsamic vinegar, Note 1
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil or canola oil or a bit more if you like the flavors less intense
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • MAKE VINAIGRETTE DRESSING: Use the shake method or whisk method.
    ° Shake method (easiest): Add all the dressing ingredients to a small sealed container. Lock on lid and give it a good shake.
    ° Whisk method: Whisk together balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon, garlic, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a small bowl or measuring cup. Slowly add olive oil while whisking, until well blended. Taste and adjust as needed.
    Makes about 8 tablespoons or just less than 1/2 cup/124 ml dressing, enough for 4 generous portions.

Recipe Notes

  1. Balsamic vinegar substitute: ADD BRIEF DIRECTIONS
  2. Variations and substitutes for recipe: 
      • Try white balsamic vinegar instead of dark. It’s less intense and won’t turn your dressing dark. 
      • Add a dash of mayonnaise for a creamier dressing. 
      • Whisk in some finely chopped fresh herbs like thyme or oregano. 
      • Substitutes
          • honey to replace maple syrup
          • orange juice to replace the lemon juice
          • honey mustard or prepared mustard to replace the Dijon.
3. Make ahead: The maple balsamic dressing will last in the fridge in an airtight container for about 2 weeks. I love that I can make it and store it in the same sealed container.
 
Nutrition value estimates are for 1 tablespoon of dressing. A typical serving is 2 tablespoons. 

Nutrition

Calories: 94kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 18mg | Fiber: 0.05g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!

I adapted the recipe from a similar one by Ricardo that I found in a magazine years ago.

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