Nicoise Salad Dressing Recipe

This tangy and savoury dressing, infused with aromatic garlic, perfectly complements the fresh and hearty ingredients of a classic French Nicoise salad. Easy to prepare and bursting with flavour, this dressing makes any salad taste amazing.

Nicoise salad dressing in a jar with the lid on the side with 2 small bowls in the background

Why You’ll Love Nicoise Salad Dressing 

A few simple ingredients make a delicious salad dressing bursting with flavour

The combination of extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, aromatic garlic, and citrusy lemon juice creates a quintessential French-style Nicoise salad dressing we all love. 

This recipe closely follows the fundamental principles of salad dressings, incorporating a solid oil base, acidity, and additional flavour enhancers like garlic. It also allows you to experiment and add your own twists with additional herbs or aromates. 

As you can imagine, we never buy salad dressings anymore. Making your own salad dressing at home saves you money and time—no more running to the store!—and cuts out any artificial additives you might find in store-bought dressings.

What is Nicoise Salad?

Originating from the south of France, Nicoise salad is a healthy combination of canned tuna, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, olives, beans, and potatoes. I love how satisfying this hearty salad can be—it’s big enough to serve as a meal yet easily shared between friends.

To tie the flavours together, the salad is typically dressed with a classic French vinaigrette made from olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and garlic, though there can be variations.

In our version of the Nicoise salad dressing, I’ve substituted red wine vinegar for lemon juice because I adore the citrusy flavours that complement the canned tuna.

While it’s perfect for Nicoise salad, this gluten-free dressing also complements a variety of other salads like our Watercress salad or Jerusalem Artichoke and Pear Salad, roasted vegetables, and even grilled meats, making it a staple in your kitchen.

Ingredients

These are the ingredients you need for Nicoise salad dressing:

Individually labelled ingredients for Nicoise salad dressing
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Good quality extra virgin olive oil is essential for salads. I love the rich, fruity and sharpness it brings to the Nicoise salad dressing. 
  • Garlic: I added grated garlic to infuse the dressing with a robust, aromatic depth.
  • Dijon mustard: This is a French salad dressing, so you can’t really go without Dijon mustard! It offers a creamy, mildly spicy kick that binds the dressing together.
  • Lemon juice: I prefer lemon juice in this niçoise salad dressing because it is a natural pairing with tuna and seafood. The citrusy flavours balance the sharp extra virgin olive oil. 

Variations and Substitutions

Substitute for lemon juice: If lemon juice is unavailable, you can use red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. 

Additional ingredients: This Nicoise salad dressing is very much the base of many French vinaigrettes. You can use it to build your own flavours. Other ingredients you can add include chopped herbs like parsley, chives and tarragon. Or add extra oomph with finely chopped shallots, capers or anchovies.  

Other salad dressings with a tangy mustard profile you may like include our honey seeded mustard dressing, apple cider vinaigrette and creamy mustard dressing

Instructions

Step by step instructions for how to make dressing for Nicoise salad: 

Finely grate garlic.

Grating garlic on a microplane with oranges and Dijon mustard in the background

Add lemon juice, Dijon mustard and olive oil in a mason jar or small bowl and whisk well together. 

A lemon squeezer hovering over Dijon mustard, olive oil and a jar of dressing

Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

overhead image of Nicoise salad dressing in a jar with the lid on the side

How To Make This Dressing Perfectly [Expert Tips]

Use high-quality ingredients: Opt for good-quality extra virgin olive oil, as this will affect the flavour of the dressing. 

Emulsify well: Whisking the lemon juice and mustard together before adding the oil helps to emulsify the dressing, resulting in a creamy and cohesive texture. 

Fresh garlic: Mince the garlic finely to ensure it disperses evenly throughout the dressing, providing a consistent flavour in every bite.

How to Store

Store leftover dressing in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. Shake it again before each use, as the ingredients may separate over time.

Best Salad for This Salad Dressing

Salad Nicoise (French Salad Recipe with Tuna)

Salad Nicoise is a quintessential French salad recipe that showcases everything you would want in a salad. Combining canned tuna, fresh tomatoes, green beans, eggs, potatoes and olives the flavours are delicious and satisfying. Big enough to be a meal but easily shared between friends.

Salad Niçoise (French Salad Recipe with Tuna) with sliced olive bread and textured linen tablecloth

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make Nicoise salad dressing in advance?

Yes, you can make the dressing up to a week in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and shake before using.

Is it necessary to use Dijon mustard?

A classic recipe will use Dijon mustard, which provides delicious tang and emulsifying properties, but you can use other types of mustard, like whole grain or yellow mustard. The flavour will be slightly different but still delicious.

Can I make the dressing without garlic?

Yes, if you prefer a milder flavour, you can omit the garlic. The dressing will still be flavorful but less pungent.

Is Nicoise salad dressing vegan?

The basic recipe is vegan-friendly. However, ensure that the Dijon mustard you use does not contain any non-vegan ingredients.

Holding a jar of Nicoise salad dressing in a jar over a bowl of Nicoise salad

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Pouring homemade Nicoise salad dressing over Nicoise salad
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Nicoise Salad Dressing Recipe

This tangy and savoury dressing, infused with aromatic garlic, perfectly complements the fresh and hearty ingredients of a classic French Nicoise salad. Easy to prepare and bursting with flavour, this dressing makes any salad taste amazing.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Salad Dressing
Cuisine: French
Suitable for Diet: Gluten Free, Low Fat, Low Lactose, Low Salt, Vegan, Vegetarian
Additional Dietary: Egg Free, Nut Free
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 130kcal
Author: Sammy Eng

Ingredients

Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.

Instructions

  • Add lemon juice and Dijon mustard to small bowl and whisk well together.
  • Slowly add extra virgin olive oil and whisk until it emulsifies.
  • Finally, add grated garlic, salt and pepper to salad dressing and whisk until combined.
  • Alternatively, you can place all ingredients in a jar and give it a good shake if you're short on time.

Notes

  • You can use red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar if you don’t have lemon juice. 
  • Other ingredients you can add include chopped herbs like parsley, chives, and tarragon. Finely chopped shallots, capers, or anchovies can also add extra oomph.  
  • Leftover dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Shake or whisk it before each use, as the ingredients may separate over time.

Nutrition

Calories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 14mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.2mg

*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.

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