Jacques Pépin’s Vinaigrette – Is It Better than Julia’s?

You want to make a vinaigrette for your guests. It has to be just right, but you’re running out of time. What do you do?

In our last post, we saw how Julia Child makes her Lemon-Oil Dressing. Now, you are going to learn how Jacques Pépin makes his classic Vinaigrette in a Jar. Jacques takes a different approach than does Julia. Although he uses many of the same ingredients, the proportions for those ingredients bear no resemblance to Julia’s.

Come join the staff of the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen as we recreate Jacques’s recipe. In this second post of a three-part series, we focus on development of superior taste and flavor. The reason for this will become abundantly clear in our next post. It will be then that Chef Luna, in a blind test, will answer for us this most important question.

Which vinaigrette is better? – Jacques’s or Julia’s?

Great Vinaigrette Challenge Background

farmhouse cuisine

In our post, Julia Child’s Vinaigrette – Is It Better than Jacques’s?, I set the stage for a virtual showdown between Julia Child and Jacques Pépin. The contest will determine which of the two legendary chefs has the better vinaigrette recipe.

Since our decision to hold this extraordinary culinary event, the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen staff has been working around the clock. We want to make the Great Vinaigrette Challenge an event to be remembered.

You may well ask, just why is the SFH-TK so intent on holding an event centered around Julia and Jacques? Well, if you know anything about Chef Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face, you will know that, for over 15 years, they have been using Julia as their guide to mastering preparation of French cuisine.

What you may not know, however, is that, as they watched Julia and Jacques cooking together, Blondie and Fuzzy developed a great appreciation for Jacques’s style and techniques. But there was another element that brought this all together.

Jacques and Our Rappahannock County

Serendipity Farmhouse is located in Rappahannock County, Virginia. And while almost no one has heard of the Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen, almost everyone who knows anything about fine restaurants knows about The Inn at Little Washington. The Inn is acknowledged to be the finest restaurant in the Washington, D.C. area. And it has three Michelin Stars attesting to its excellence.

(See articles here and here to learn about the Inn at Little Washington.)

There is something more. Jacques is no stranger to Rappahannock County and the Inn at Little Washington. In fact, the Inn even has a suite named in his honor. So, it was considered no little thing when Jacques visited Little Washington and The Inn in January of this year. (See: Chef Jacques Pépin Event Set at Inn at Little Washington for details.)

For Fuzzy and Miss Blondie, Jacques’s visit set their minds to thinking of how they might feature Jacques in an SFH-Test Kitchen event. And that was the planting of the seed that has grown to be The Great Vinaigrette Challenge.

Jacques’s Vinaigrette in a Jar

to make vinaigrette

From the very start, one can see how differently Jacques and Julia think. For example, Julia’s vinaigrette recipe yields about ⅔ of a cup. Jacques’s recipe yields about 1½ cups. Why the big difference in yield?

Apparently, Julia has two reasons. First, the recipe is only to be used for a single salad. Second, her choice of ingredients does not stand up to refrigerator storage.

Jacques, on the other hand, says that with his method, “… I have enough for several salads.” He also maintains, that, “… you can keep the jar in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks at most and use the dressing whenever needed.”

Persnickety Pierre’s Criteria of Excellence

As with Julia’s Lemon-Oil Dressing, there is no need to spend much time discussing each of my Criteria of Excellence and how they apply to Jacques’s vinaigrette. However, you should understand from the beginning that Jacques uses more of a freestyle approach than Julia. You might take the time to compare the two vinaigrette recipes.

You will find, I think, that Jacques allows for the use of more options. For example, Jacques allows for either red- or white-wine vinegar. Likewise, you can use either extra-virgin olive oil or peanut oil. You can even mix the two oils, if you like.


Two legendary chefs show you how to make a vinaigrette. They use similar ingredients, but they employ different techniques. The think differently, but they both respect each other and share in their love of cooking. Good food prepared with love can make for great friendships.

Now, while you are waiting for The Great Vinaigrette Challenge, try out Jacques’s recipe. Hopefully, you have already tried Julia’s. When you have prepared both recipes, you will have accomplished two things. First, you will know how to make a vinaigrette. Second, you’ll be able to sit right alongside our most distinguished Chef Luna and make your own judgement:

Which vinaigrette is better? – Jacque’s or Julia’s?

Jacques's Vinaigrette in a Jar


  • A 12-ounce glass jar with a screwtop lid


  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbs Dijon-style mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup red- or white-wine vinegar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil or peanut oil or a mixture of the two


  • Put all the ingredients in the jar, screw on the lid, and shake very well.
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more oil or vinegar, as you like.
  • Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks, and shake to blend before using.


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