Preserved lemon vinaigrette is like adding a ray of sunshine to your salad. This preserved lemon salad dressing is easy to make and a perfect way to use your preserved lemons.
Be sure to check out my post on how to make your own jar of preserved lemons!
For ease of browsing, find all my preserved lemon recipes in one place.
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Why you'll love this recipe!
Making a vinaigrette is a wonderful way to get to know an ingredient - in this case - preserved lemons. Preserved lemon dressing is a quick recipe to prepare. Once you make it, you’ll find so many ways to use it.
Like most vinaigrettes, this recipe is a starting point. You can adjust the oil you use, the herbs or even add other ingredients like shallots or garlic or dijon mustard.
And besides a salad, a tasty vinaigrette can be used to top vegetables or even as a marinade for fish or chicken. Or mix some into yogurt for a dip. Once you make this recipe, the next batch will almost certainly be a double.
Ingredients you'll need
Other than the preserved lemons, you'll probably have all the ingredients in your pantry. And if you don't have preserved lemons already made, buy some or get a jar started.
- Preserved lemons: Make your own or buy some. I promise you'll find so many uses for them from appetizers to main courses and even desserts. I use the flesh and rind of the lemon, being careful to remove the seeds. Some people only use the rind but I like to make use of as much of the preserved lemon as possible!
- Herbs: This is where you can really adjust to what your like or have on hand. Use fresh or dried, use chives or basil instead of thyme or parsley. Use more or less. Just remember that dried herbs are more intense in flavor than fresh so when using fresh, add more than the dried recommendation.
- Sugar: You can also use honey and I highly recommend tasting your first pass to see if you need a bit more. The sweetener will offset any bitterness or excessive tartness.
- Olive oil: Salad dressings are a good place to use your best olive oil since, more than likely, will not be cooking this vinaigrette (though you might if you decide to try it as a marinade!) If you don't have olive oil on hand, there is so much flavor in the lemons, that you could use a less flavorful oil such as grapeseed or vegetable.
How to make this recipe
I use a mini food processor but if you only have a whisk and a bowl, that will work too. Just finely chop the herbs and preserved lemon.
1. Rinse the salty liquid off the lemon and chop coarsely if using a food processor or more finely if just using a whisk. (Rinsing is a way to control the amount of salt. Most of the time I find not rinsing and not adding additional salt works well but either way is ok.) Put all the ingredients in the food processor.
2. Pulse until it’s the texture you want – completely smooth or leave some bits of lemon. You'll see the color change to lemony yellow as all the ingredients combine together.
2a. If whisking by hand, add the oil a bit at a time, whisking to emulsify it with the other ingredients.
3. The most important thing is to taste it. Too tart? Add a touch more sugar. Want even more lemony freshness? Add some more fresh lemon juice. Want a stronger herby flavor – add extra dried or fresh thyme or parsley.
Other optional additions are shallot, pepper flakes, garlic or Dijon mustard.
If using the preserved lemon salad dressing soon after you make it, leave it out of the refrigerator so it doesn’t congeal. I usually refrigerate the leftovers though it will thicken up. The next time you use it, take it out and let it come to room temperature or add a touch of lemon juice and whisk or shake it until the consistency returns.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- Remember that preserved lemons are, by definition, salty. So either rinse them before use or use the saltiness as the "added" salt for this recipe (and others).
- Experiment with this lemon salad dressing recipe - A vinaigrette recipe is a starting point and almost endlessly adaptable to your taste buds and the ingredients you have on hand. The only must-have component of this lemon salad dressing recipe is the preserved lemons which really give it its unique flavor.
- Remember not to worry if you don't have a mini or regular size food processor. Just mince the lemons into really small pieces and use a whisk!
Preserved lemons are simply unwaxed lemons, of any variety, that have been salted, covered in lemon juice and left in a cool dry place to transform into a perfect preserved piece of citrus. When fully preserved, the tartness disappears and you are left with a lemony edible rind.
Before a lemon is preserved, we usually just use the zest of the rind and the juice from the inside flesh. But after preserving, the rind is your new culinary best friend. In fact, the only thing I don’t use are the seeds.
The options are endless. Almost any place you might use lemon, especially in savory recipes, you can use some preserved lemon instead.
Preserved lemons are a natural fit in Moroccan recipes such as a chicken tagine but if you are not yet familiar with that style of cooking, no problem. These lemons are wonderful for fish, chicken, beef, salads, grains, pastas, dips and so much more.
This is a small batch recipe so if you are a regular salad eater this dressing will disappear long before it might spoil. But it should last a week or two stored in a tightly covered container on the counter and for a few months stored in the refrigerator.
What to serve with preserved lemon vinaigrette
- Asparagus Salad w Preserved Lemon - this recipe has a built in dressing but this vinaigrette can be used as well
- Farmers' Market Chopped Salad - skip the lemon juice and olive oil dressing and use this vinaigrette instead
- Sheet Pan Harissa Chicken - sub in the vinaigrette in the sauce for the chicken or the yogurt sauce instead of the preserved lemons OR serve the chicken with the chopped salad dressed with the vinaigrette.
- Blistered Tomato, Corn and Arugula Salad - I love the balsamic dressing with this salad but for a change of pace, this preserved lemon vinaigrette would be excellent!
- Make a salad with fresh spinach, sliced eggs, and cherry tomatoes for lunch and top it with with this lemon dressing. You'll love the sweetness of the salad with the savoriness of this dressing.
- Try this wonderful chickpea-based dish called lahmajoun and add some of the dressing both to the pizza topping and the salad topper!
Supplies for making the dressing
One of my favorite kitchen tools is my mini food processor. You can read more about what happened when I first received it as a gift (plus the post has a bonus jalapeno hummus recipe :-). That said, I now love it so if you don't have one, think about adding a mini food processor to your kitchen tool arsenal. Otherwise just a good kitchen whisk will do the trick. And I also LOVE my handheld citrus juicer .
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- ½ medium sized preserved lemon, seeds removed, rinsed
- 1 teaspoon preserved lemon liquid
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- Fresh parsley if you have some
- Fresh ground pepper
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Place all ingredients in a food processor to emulsify.
- Alternatively, if you don't have a mini food processor, mince the preserved lemon into small pieces and chop your herbs. Then place all ingredients—except oil—in a bowl. Slowly whisk in oils to emulsify.
- Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary to your liking.
- Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. But if using within a few hours of when you make it, leave it out so the oil doesn’t congeal. If it does congeal in the refrigerator, just let it come to room temp or add a touch of lemon juice and whisk and it will come back to a smoother consistency quickly.
- Remember that preserved lemons are, by definition, salty. So either rinse them before use or use the saltiness as the "added" salt for this recipe.
- Experiment with this vinaigrette - Consider this is a starting point. Adapt to your taste buds and the ingredients you have on hand. The only must-have component of this dressing recipe is the preserved lemons which really give it its unique flavor.
- Not to worry if you don't have a mini or regular size food processor. Just mince the lemons into really small pieces, chop up your herbs and use a whisk!
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 83Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 28mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g