Barely Browned Butter Is The Flavorful Secret To Salad Dressing

A basic rule of thumb when it comes to making a delicious salad dressing or vinaigrette from scratch is working with a three-to-one ratio — three parts oil to one part acid. This fundamental tip will allow you to transform a basic dressing into your very own creation. Rather than relying on the traditional pairing of olive oil and vinegar, you can explore other types of acid such as lemon juice, mustard, wine, or pickling liquid, and other types of fat, from mayonnaise and lard to coconut oil and even butter. And have you tried browning your butter? That's even better! 

To brown butter is to essentially melt it down and cook it until the milk solids have separated, a light brown hue has formed, and a sweet, slightly nutty smell arises. There are many uses for brown butter, but when making it specifically for a salad dressing, be sure to keep a close eye and snatch it off the heat as soon as you notice it browning. Too much exposure to heat could yield a more pungent flavor that risks overpowering your salad. This addition not only adds a darker hue to your next batch of salad dressing, but it adds a bold, complex flavor that you won't find in your everyday cooking oil.

It adds a rich and nutty flavor

Once you've successfully browned butter for your dressing or vinaigrette, simply transfer the liquid to a blender with an acid of your choice (sticking to the three-to-one ratio, of course), along with any other ingredients you need, and blitz until smooth. Since browned butter yields a much more noticeable flavor than oil, you may not know what type of acid to pair with it and what extra ingredients to add. Turns out, browned butter's nuttiness and caramel-like flavor plays well with most varieties of vinegar and mustard. It also has somewhat of an autumnal flavor profile, so apple cider vinegar is especially complimentary, and maple syrup is a wonderful addition when wanting to sweeten it up.

It's best to serve a dressing like this as soon as it is prepared, as butter tends to solidify the longer it sits out at room temperature. Furthermore, if you're looking to make this salad dressing in advance, know that it shouldn't be served straight from the fridge as its consistency is too thick. Simply run it through the blender — the blades will heat up the dressing, making it easier for drizzling.