Here’s how to make Nicoise salad dressing! This easy and zingy lemon vinaigrette is the ideal complement, inspired by Julia Child.

Nicoise salad dressing

Are you making Nicoise salad and need a killer dressing? Here’s our favorite way to top this classic French salad: with zingy and bright lemon vinaigrette! This vinaigrette is full of beautiful fresh flavor, and inspired by the master of French cooking herself, Julia Child! This simple dressing highlights the best of all the components of Nicoise salad without sticking out: it’s the perfect complement.

Ingredients for Nicoise salad dressing

This Nicoise salad dressing is brilliantly simple. It’s inspired by a lemon vinaigrette shared by Julia Child that we adapted for our Nicoise salad. Julia is an author and TV personality who wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking back the 1960’s: and she’s one of our culinary heros! Her goal was to bring the beauty of French cuisine to America: so she’s a great source for how a Nicoise salad should be put together. Here are the ingredients for this Nicoise salad dressing:

  • 1 fresh lemon
  • Dijon mustard
  • Olive oil

Yes, it’s really that easy! There are a few things to know about the method to capitalize on that full, beautiful lemony flavor.

How to make Nicoise salad dressing

How to make Nicoise salad dressing: the method!

Here’s a little trick to this Nicoise salad dressing that amps up the lemon flavor: and you’ll find yourself wanting to make it this way every time. Here are the tricks:

  • Mash the lemon zest into a paste: Zest the lemon, then the key is to mash the lemon zest into a paste so it spreads throughout the entire dressing! That way there aren’t weird floaties of lemon zest, and the flavor spreads evenly throughout.
  • Add lemon juice and mustard. The Djion mustard adds great flavor and at the same time helps to create a creamy emulsion.
  • Whisk in olive oil graduallyTo get the perfect emulsion, whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time. The resulting lemon salad dressing is so zesty and delicious, you’ll want to put it on every salad you make.

What is Nicoise salad?

What exactly is Nicoise salad? It’s a classic French composed salad called salade nicoise in French, which means “Salad from Nice, France.” How to pronounce Nicoise? Say Nee-SWAZ in your best French accent. This fancy main dish salad always has the same elements:

  • Greens (many times butter lettuce)
  • Blanched green beans
  • Olives
  • Tomatoes
  • Tuna
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Boiled potatoes or this French potato salad

Because it’s packed with protein from the tuna and eggs, it’s filling and incredibly satisfying. Top it off with this Nicoise salad dressing, and it’s fantastic as a fancy lunch or a healthy dinner. Add crusty bread and a bottle of wine, and you’ve got a beautiful French table. Head to our Classic Nicoise Salad recipe.

Nicoise salad

More salad dressing recipes

Making salad dressing at home is healthier and tastes much more delicious than store-bought options! Here are a few more of our favorite homemade dressings for when you’ve got a naked salad in hand:

This Nicoise salad dressing is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Nicoise salad dressing

Nicoise Salad Dressing

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: About ½ cup 1x


Here’s how to make Nicoise salad dressing! This easy and zingy lemon vinaigrette is the ideal complement, inspired by Julia Child.


  • 1/2 large lemon (1 tablespoon lemon zest + 2 tablespoons juice)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt plus more if needed
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Serve with: Classic Nicoise Salad


  1. Zest the lemon. Sprinkle it with the kosher salt, then mince it as fine as possible. Holding the blunt edge of the knife, scrape the sharp edge of the blade over the minced lemon zest, holding the knife at an angle and mashing the lemon zest into a paste. This should only take a minute or two and it doesn’t need to be perfect: just try to get the lemon zest as fine as possible.
  2. Place the lemon zest in a medium bowl and it whisk together with the mustard and lemon juice. Gradually whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time (8 tablespoons total), until creamy and emulsified. If desired, season with additional salt. Serve with Classic Nicoise Salad.
  • Category: Dressing
  • Method: Whisked
  • Cuisine: French inspired
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Nicoise salad dressing

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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