This simple basil balsamic vinaigrette is easy and so bold in flavors! It combines sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar with fresh basil, sweetener, tahini (or yogurt), dijon and a little garlic. Perfect over green salads, vegetables and in sandwiches, plus this recipe is naturally vegan and gluten-free.
This super simple yet flavor-packed basil balsamic vinaigrette is a must try this summer.
I am a huge fan of creamy salad dressings and there is usually a jar of either sunshine orange dressing, vegan honey mustard dressing or a creamy harissa dressing waiting for me in the fridge. Meal-prepping dressings ahead is amazing for busy weeks and perfect to use over green salads, but also for pasta salads, buddha bowls, in sandwiches, as a dipping sauce, etc.
And this creamy basil balsamic dressing recently became a new favorite for us: it truly bursts with amazing fresh flavors and it is so easy to make. It combines super simple ingredients you probably already have, such as fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, sweetener, garlic and a little dijon mustard. To bring all the ingredients together and make it creamy without adding any oil, then I also included a little tahini, but you can swap for yogurt or just use olive oil if you prefer.
This vegan dressing is ultra tasty and has the perfect balance of tangy + sweet flavors that are infused with just enough basil to make it super fresh and fragrant. But, you can easily adjust the ingredients to your preference, it is so versatile!
This dressing actually is a little similar to my balsamic tahini salad dressing, although this time I used a whole lot of fresh basil to really supercharge the flavors. Perfect recipe to make in the summer when the basil is everywhere!
Plus, it is SO quick and easy to make (5-minute!). You can use a food processor to whip up everything together while keeping some texture, but feel free to chop the basil by hand and whisk the ingredients instead or even blend until all smooth.
Let me know if you gave it a try! ❤️
Highlights of this recipe
- Easy and quick
- Creamy and rich in texture
- Ultra flavorful and aromatic
- Great for meal-prep
- Perfect for the summer, but can be made all year around
- No preservatives and made without oil
- Can be customized to your taste
- Versatile ways to serve it: over salads, bowls, sandwiches, etc
- Fits many diets: vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and nut-free
Ingredients you will need
- Fresh basil: fresh basil is the most important ingredient and really is responsible for its amazing flavor. I used regular Italian basil to make it, but use any other kind of basil you have.
- Balsamic vinegar: chose your favorite kind of balsamic vinegar, although avoid the balsamic glaze as they are thick and super sweet.
- Maple syrup: sweetener of choice, although you can also use agave nectar or brown rice syrup.
- Tahini: or swap for vegan yogurt if you prefer. Tahini has a mild nutty flavor that's great paired with the other ingredients here and also, it makes the sauce creamier and rich. But, if you don't mind adding oil to dressings, then a high-quality virgin olive oil can be used as well.
- Garlic: just one small clove adds a hint of garlicky flavor to your dressing without being too strong.
- Dijon mustard: pairs so well with balsamic vinegar and basil. You won't need a lot, just a small spoonful, but dijon makes a big difference in the overall taste of the vinaigrette and will also help emulsify the ingredients together.
How to make a basil balsamic vinaigrette
This salad dressing should be ready within 5 min! Plus, you can make it using a blender, food processor or simply by hand.
Method 1: food processor
This is the method that I used (see below).
Add the all the ingredients to your food processor and process/pulse until desired consistency. You can keep processing until the basil is super fine or keep the fresh herbs in larger pieces. Use the spatula to scrape the walls once or twice to ensure it is all uniform.
Method 2: immersion blender or blender
Add all the ingredients to a tall jar (mason jars work well for that) and then, blend using an immersion blender. You can also use a regular blender if that's easier, but just keep in mind that this would likely completely crush the basil.
Method 3: by hand
If you don't have a food processor or blender, then you can simply make it by hand! In that case, finely chop the basil on a cutting board the best you can and combine all the ingredients in a small-medium bowl.
Adjust and serve
No matter how you make it, make sure to taste and adjust the flavor to your preference. You can add more salt, vinegar or sweetener if desired and also, you can add a splash of water if you want your dressing to be thinner.
- If the balsamic vinegar you are using is super sweet, which will depend on the brand, then omit or use less of the maple syrup.
- If using the food processor, then I recommend to chop or even crush the garlic before adding it to the other ingredients to ensure it is very well incorporated into the vinaigrette. You don't want to end up with larger chunks of raw garlic!
This salad dressing goes amazingly well with a simple green salad. Similarly to what you can see in the pictures, try pairing with cherry tomatoes, freshly cooked corn, purple cabbage and a mix of leafy greens.
Fresh strawberries and vegan ricotta would also be amazing with this basil-infused vinaigrette!
Here are more ways to serve this basil balsamic dressing:
- Buddha bowls: usually combines grain (such as quinoa or brown rice), vegetables of your choice (raw or cooked), beans or roasted tofu, fresh herbs, nuts/seeds, etc. I have a few buddha bowls on my website that would pair well with this basil sauce, such as this Greek marinated tofu bowl, so be sure to check them out.
- Sandwiches: spread some in sandwiches, such as tofu sandwiches or tempeh sandwiches, for a nice boost of fresh flavors. It would especially work well in crusted tofu sandwich wraps or these balsamic tofu veggie wraps.
- Roasted vegetables: add a few dollops over oven roasted potato and broccoli, carrots, cauliflower etc. This can be a good way to use your leftover sauce the next day.
Variations to the recipe
Salad vinaigrettes are so versatile and easy to make your own by swapping the ingredients with what you have. Here are a few personalization ideas:
- No tahini: if you don't want to use tahini, then swap for a plain yogurt. We love the cashew yogurt from Forager, which would be perfect here. But also, feel-free to use vegan mayo or simply oil, if you prefer.
- Spicy: you can easily add a little heat to this dressing by including a small amount of red pepper flakes. Start with a little pinch and keep in mind that the flavors will intensify as they rest.
- No balsamic vinegar: in that case, use a different kind of vinegar, such as red wine or white wine vinegar and add a little more sweetener to compensate. Lemon juice would also be a great choice, just add to taste.
- Herbs: feel-free to add a bunch of dried herbs if you want, especially oregano, parsley, dill and chives.
Keep the vinaigrette in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Shake/stir well before serving. I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
You can use dried basil, although the result won't be the same at all. I would start with 1 teaspoon and add more as you taste.
Ideally, you would use a high-quality traditional balsamic vinegar for this recipe. It is usually written "Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena" or a variation from this. That being said, they can be quite expensive and not as accessible, so feel-free to use any kind of commercial balsamic vinegar you can find at the grocery store and it should be fine. Vinegars that are labelled "aged" or "modena-style" are good choices and usually stronger in flavor and sometimes thicker too.
More recipes like this
- Sunshine dressing
- Vegan honey mustard dressing
- Creamy harissa dressing
- Creamy cajun salad dressing
- Vegan Italian dressing
- Almond butter dressing
- Vegan avocado ranch dressing
I hope you like this basil balsamic vinaigrette recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Food processor or blender optional, can be made by hand
- ½ cup fresh basil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp tahini or yogurt - or olive oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup - or to taste
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 small clove of garlic - crushed
- salt - to taste
- water - optional, to thin out the vinaigrette as needed
- Add all the ingredients to a food processor and process/pulse until desired consistency. Alternatively, the dressing can be made by hand (chop the herbs on a cutting board and whisk in a bowl) or to create a completely smooth texture, then use a blender. Taste and adjust flavors and texture.
- Storage: keep the dressing in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Shake or stir well before serving.
- This dressing goes well with leafy greens, tomatoes, strawberries, corn, onion, etc. It can also be used in sandwiches or over roasted vegetables.