Brown Derby Vinaigrette

It all started when my husband and I went to a recently opened restaurant in town – Bricktown Brewery. It’s not a real brewery, at least not at this location, but we thought we’d give it a chance. We never have high expectations, because our small town doesn’t attract the kind of restaurants we prefer to frequent.

As usual, the menu consisted mostly of burgers, sandwiches, even pizza. And then there it was – Cobb salad – one of my favorites! It was served “tossed in a Brown Derby vinaigrette.”

Since I’d never heard of this, I asked for the vinaigrette served on the side. I wasn’t that impressed with it – not very flavorful, and vinegar-heavy. And I love vinegar!

This was a perfect opportunity for me to learn more about this vinaigrette, and to make it from scratch; I was sure it would be much better.

Turns out, The Brown Derby name is the name of the same old, well-known restaurant in Los Angeles, California, that “invented” the Cobb Salad! It closed in 1985.

I found many recipes that were surprisingly similar to the following, but all ingredient lists for the vinaigrette started with water. Equal parts water, balsamic or red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Here goes.

Brown Derby Vinaigrette

4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil

Place all of the ingredients in a jar and shake well. Alternatively, use a small blender jar.

I chose to use balsamic vinegar; I suggest omitting the sugar.

Cobb salads are a wonderful opportunity to create beauty on a plate, no matter if it’s a single bowl or a platter.

The salad consists of lettuce, chicken, avocados, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, optional purple onions, and blue cheese. However, I prefer feta over blue.

The chicken can be grilled, baked, pan-fried… some people like fried chicken bits. Also fry some large bacon dice.

Begin with the lettuce and keep adding ingredients. For fun I used both yellow and red cherry tomatoes.

Shake the vinaigrette and add to a bowl for serving.

Turns out, this vinaigrette made from scratch is delicious. It’s nothing like I had in the restaurant.

By Published On: April 25th, 202244 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

44 Comments

  1. BERNADETTE April 25, 2022 at 8:03 AM - Reply

    Such a beautiful presentation and it is interesting that the dressing recipe called for water. Were you tempted to omit the water?

    • Chef Mimi April 26, 2022 at 10:43 AM - Reply

      I cut back by 50%. I thought it odd. but the resulting dressing is good.

  2. neil@neilshealthymeals.com April 25, 2022 at 8:05 AM - Reply

    I love a good Vinaigrette. Must give this one a try Mimi. Thanks!

    • Chef Mimi April 26, 2022 at 10:38 PM - Reply

      Great! It was good!

  3. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen April 25, 2022 at 8:41 AM - Reply

    There is something so inviting about a composed salad, like a little salad bar on a platter. This is beautiful Mimi, and the dressing sounds delicious, although the addition of water does make one pause for a second!

    • Chef Mimi April 26, 2022 at 10:38 PM - Reply

      I know! That’s why I din’t want to use a mild vinegar.

  4. Alex April 25, 2022 at 2:17 PM - Reply

    What a salad, Mimi! What stands out to me is the Worcestershire, but I get it – it will make it more manly :-), meaning with more umami. I personally would not use the Balsamico, instead opting for a good red wine vinegar and the half Tsp sugar. I feel the balsamic sweetness is sometimes gooey, which I don’t like in a salad. But the salad itself is magnificent. You don’t need anything else for a full meal.

    • Chef Mimi April 25, 2022 at 10:42 PM - Reply

      I know what you’re saying, but I chose balsamic because I was so worried about there being so little flavor with the water element. It turned out very good and not sweet.

  5. Ben | Havocinthekitchen April 25, 2022 at 7:33 PM - Reply

    Ooo this Cobb salad looks epic – so beautiful and colourful, just as I like. Great work on this Derby vinaigrette improvement. I usually make simplified vinaigrette, but I love the complexity of the flavour here!

    • Chef Mimi April 26, 2022 at 10:39 PM - Reply

      It turned out really, well, but I understand about the simple vinaigrette.

  6. Debra April 25, 2022 at 10:39 PM - Reply

    I have always loved a Cobb salad, and yours looks particularly pretty. I like balsamic a lot and think that would be a great addition. I’m looking forward to giving this a try. It sounds so flavorful!

    • Chef Mimi April 26, 2022 at 10:40 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Debra. It was interesting to try

  7. Sherry M April 25, 2022 at 11:37 PM - Reply

    lots of good gutsy flavours there mimi!

    • Chef Mimi April 27, 2022 at 9:33 PM - Reply

      Yes! And delicious flavors!

  8. terrie gura April 26, 2022 at 11:04 AM - Reply

    The water in the dressing actually makes sense to me. I usually mix a bit into my vinaigrettes to light up the emulsion without adding more acid from vinegar or lemon. Equal parts sounds a bit thin though so I like the adjustment. Your salad is the most gorgeous thing! So much more inviting than the “rows” of ingredients on the restaurant salad!

    • Chef Mimi April 26, 2022 at 10:40 PM - Reply

      Interesting. I’ve never done that, but then, I really love vinegar. Thank you!

  9. Fran @ G'day Souffle April 26, 2022 at 11:55 AM - Reply

    Looks like the recipe for the dressing is nothing new but your salad presentation looks fantastic! I suppose the dressing should be understated anyway.

    • Chef Mimi April 26, 2022 at 10:41 PM - Reply

      You’re probably right. But a creamy dressing would be good on this as well. I’m thinking Green goddess!

  10. Valentina April 26, 2022 at 2:28 PM - Reply

    I will try this dressing. Sounds delicious and your platter is absolutely gorgeous. What a meal! So great for guests — I’ll just put that in the center of the table. Done! :-) ~Valentina

    • Chef Mimi April 26, 2022 at 10:42 PM - Reply

      It does make for a pretty serving platter!

  11. Ann Coleman April 26, 2022 at 5:14 PM - Reply

    You have a knack for creating foods that are both healthy and delicious! Thank you for sharing….

    • Chef Mimi April 26, 2022 at 10:41 PM - Reply

      Thank you Ann!

  12. David @ Spiced April 27, 2022 at 8:04 AM - Reply

    You couldn’t have said it better – “beauty on a plate.” So true! I love the presentation of this dish, Mimi. I’m not familiar with this vinaigrette, so of course I need to try it now! And a brewery that isn’t actually a brewery!? Say what??

    • Chef Mimi April 27, 2022 at 9:33 PM - Reply

      Well, that would be Oklahoma, and its many chain restaurants…

  13. cookingwithauntjuju.com April 27, 2022 at 8:20 AM - Reply

    I have The Brown Derby Restaurant Cookbook and posted a recipe for Cobb Salad back in 2015. There is a lot of water in the original recipe – I tried to tweak it but gave up and preferred other dressings.

    • Chef Mimi April 27, 2022 at 9:34 PM - Reply

      That’s great! Cobb salads are so good. I don’t even mid a good ranch.

  14. kitchenriffs April 27, 2022 at 10:11 AM - Reply

    I’ve seen other vinaigrette recipes that include water. I usually omit it because, like you, I really enjoy the flavor of vinegar (and if I want to cut it, I prefer to add more oil). Interesting recipe — I’ve heard of it, but never had (or made) it. Thanks!

    • Chef Mimi April 27, 2022 at 9:35 PM - Reply

      That really threw me when I saw water in the dressing. So odd… but what I ended up making was good.

  15. thatskinnychickcanbake April 27, 2022 at 11:30 AM - Reply

    I love a Cobb salad and your vinaigrette is a lot like the one I make! A wonderful warm weather meal!!

    • Chef Mimi April 27, 2022 at 9:35 PM - Reply

      It really is, and I personally love composed salads.

  16. Healthy World Cuisine April 27, 2022 at 2:04 PM - Reply

    We need to get an extra large platter just so we can serve it up just like you. So many delicious flavors and textures and the perfect party salad.

    • Chef Mimi April 27, 2022 at 9:37 PM - Reply

      This would be great as part of a brunch, wouldn’t it?!

  17. Linger, Kristy Murray April 27, 2022 at 3:23 PM - Reply

    This entire recipe is simply outrageous! The salad alone is gorgeous with all the textures, flavors and colors. And then the vinaigrette you pulled together sounds AMAZING! I will have to try it especially since Spring is in the air and salads go perfectly in this season. BTW, I love all the interesting tidbits of restaurants, travel and cookbooks that you include in your posts. It’s fun to read.

    • Chef Mimi April 27, 2022 at 9:38 PM - Reply

      Thank you Kristy! I’m old so I’ve had lots of experiences! That’s why so many of us food cooks were so sad the last couple f years without being able to travel…

  18. Raymund April 27, 2022 at 10:25 PM - Reply

    First time I heard of this vinaigrette, that will definitely the next dressing that will touch the salad we are serving soon

    • Chef Mimi April 30, 2022 at 9:42 AM - Reply

      You can certainly live a fulfilled life without trying this vinaigrette out, but it was good. Just good.

  19. 2pots2cook April 28, 2022 at 4:12 AM - Reply

    Love it ! I make something quite similar but without Dijon mustard. We both enjoy it !

    • Chef Mimi April 30, 2022 at 9:43 AM - Reply

      Nice! It was good, but I’m going back to making vinaigrettes my way!

  20. Anonymous April 30, 2022 at 9:20 AM - Reply

    I’m always on the lookout for good salad dressings & vinaigrettes, and this one sounds easy and delicious.

    • Chef Mimi April 30, 2022 at 9:43 AM - Reply

      It was okay! Nothing I’d really make again….

  21. David Scott Allen May 1, 2022 at 2:20 PM - Reply

    Good to have your thoughts on the dressing. It does sound like a standard modern-day vinaigrette, with the addition of Worcestershire sauce,

    • Chef Mimi May 2, 2022 at 1:34 AM - Reply

      Right. Nothing I’d write home about! But worth blogging about.

  22. Elena Bourke May 2, 2022 at 10:07 AM - Reply

    Mimi! Thank you for these recipes. They are right up our alley and I am now looking forward to making them this week. I have not made a Cobb Salad in years and you have motivated me, especially with the Brown Derby dressing! We also love spiced and densely flavored cookies. These chocolate ones look amazing. Thanks again. Love , Elena

    • Chef Mimi May 8, 2022 at 10:27 AM - Reply

      You are so sweet Elena! Glad to know people still cook! I still remember your home made eggnog!

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