Can we make a pact? One that we promise will elevate your salad game and overall kitchen prowess. A pact that will instantly insert restaurant-style flavors into even the most mundane box of spring mix. Something that will take that side of greens from obligatory dinner-time vegetable to a show-stealing side, and is what you’ll be craving for leftovers the next day. We get it – bottled grocery store dressing is super convenient, but it’s just not that great. Let’s agree to buy less so-so bottles of expensive pre-made salad dressing in favor of supremely superior homemade dressing. It’s easy, customizable, and always tastes better. Case in point: homemade strawberry vinaigrette.

Sydney Salad with Homemade Strawberry Vinaigrette

We wholeheartedly endorse the notion that any good cook has a basic repertoire of homemade dressing recipes that can be ready at a moment’s notice. Start with an Italian, ranch, a basic but “goes well on anything” vinaigrette, maybe blue cheese if you’re into that, and perhaps a solid green goddess, then expand from there. And while we know fruit in salad can be a bit divisive, we love a good fruit-based dressing. When berries are at peak season and at their most perfect berry-ness in late spring and summer, blitzing fresh berries into a quick dressing just feels right.

Our strawberry vinaigrette is inspired by a salad at since shuttered Sydney’s Mountain Bistro in tiny West Yellowstone, Montana. Sydney’s salad had mixed greens, sliced red onions, and not much else besides a delightful strawberry vinaigrette that really propped the whole thing up in the best way possible. We’ve beefed things up in our version by adding candied pecans and blue cheese to make it a little more filling, but feel free to keep things true to Sydney’s style and skip both. The dressing can do all the heavy lifting if needed.

How to Make Strawberry Vinaigrette

  • Grab your blender. While you can get away with a whisk and jar for other homemade dressings, you’re definitely going to need a blender to get a perfectly smooth strawberry emulsion. We also love using an immersion blender for this dressing – you’ll end up with a beautifully smooth dressing that stays emulsified even after a few hours in the fridge but with less dishes. Always a win.
  • Balance with acid. Start with two tablespoons of vinegar and adjust from there. Depending on the ripeness of your strawberries, you may need more acid to balance out their sweetness. We are going for “dressing” not “smoothie.
  • Salt, then salt again. Yes, our strawberry vinaigrette skews sweet, which is a good thing. To help your dressing taste like more than just fruit, though, you’ll need to salt your dressing appropriately to bring out other flavors besides just sweet.
  • Storage guidelines. Thanks to the wonderfully ripe strawberries making up the bulk of this dressing, it doesn’t keep as long as more traditional vinaigrettes, unfortunately. It’s best eaten the day it’s made, and we wouldn’t recommend keeping it past three days.

More Salad Inspiration

Sydney Salad with Homemade Strawberry Vinaigrette

Brooke Eliason
Servings: 8 servings
Total Time: 10 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Let's agree to buy less so-so bottles of expensive salad dressing in favor of superior homemade dressing. First up: strawberry vinaigrette.



  • 8 oz. fresh strawberries, tops removed
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


  • cups pecan halves
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 5 oz. mixed greens (about 5-6 cups)
  • ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz. blue cheese


  • Make the salad dressing by blending all of the ingredients in a blender (including a pinch or two of salt and a few cranks of cracked black pepper) until smooth. Set aside.
  • Make the candied pecans: heat the pecans, sugar, and cayenne over medium heat in a nonstick pan. Toss continuously with a spatula. Continue tossing until pecans are toasted and sugar is melted. It’s okay to have scant amounts of visible white sugar here and there, but the majority of the sugar should be melted and now a light brown color. Be careful not to burn. Remove from heat, pour nuts onto parchment paper, spread, and allow to cool. Once fully cooled, break pecans apart with hands prior to using in salad.
  • Assemble the salad: Using a large serving bowl, place the greens in first, then the red onion, then the candied pecans, and finally crumble the blue cheese on top. Pour the strawberry vinaigrette into a small bowl or ramekin and toss with salad just before serving.

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