Basque Salad Dressing

The Woolgrower Hotel in Los Banos, California is a family style Basque Restaurant. You will be seated at red checkered oil cloth covered tables with other diners. This time of year at lunch there will be men in camouflage that have been duck hunting in the nearby duck club. It is a place that we try to go to when we are visiting family in the Central Valley in California. You have your choice of entrees: pork chops, roast lamb, roasted chicken, steak, lamb chops, etc. It varies slightly especially if they run out of a popular item. There is always a lot of food and it comes out from the kitchen fast…so pace yourself if you happen to go there. First course is homemade vegetable soup, bread and beans, next comes lettuce salad with the most fabulous dressing ever. Then lamb stew and sometimes potato salad. Your entree follows along with french fries. There are bottles of house wine included with your meal. Dessert is dry Jack cheese and ice cream in a plastic cup. Please don’t ask for mint jelly if you go…this is a Basque restaurant. Also, you can ask the server for a plastic bag to take home your leftover entree. I have yet gone and not taken home half of my entree. Another note…they only take cash…no credit cards or checks. I checked the reviews on Yelp and some people complained about the ambiance. This isn’t a fancy restaurant this is a family style restaurant with good simple food at a reasonable price ($20+ tip). If you leave there hungry it is your own fault.

My husband and I have tried to copy the salad dressing that they serve with the lettuce. Through trial and error we came up with something similar…but not quite. I have had friends tell me that it tastes just like it, but I think it tastes “almost” like it.

Here is our recipe…

Basque Salad Dressing
1 1/3 cup cider vinegar
4 large cloves garlic, finely minced or double pressed
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cups canola oil
2 cups Best Foods mayonnaise
pinch of black pepper


In a bowl that will allow easy whisking, add garlic to the vinegar. Whisk vigorously. Let sit a few minutes.

Whisk in salt, sugar, dry mustard and dash of pepper to vinegar in bowl. Blend ingredients.


Vigorously whisk in oil and then add mayonnaise. 20130220-205004.jpg

Here is the finished product. It will keep for a month in the refrigerator. Just shake it before use as it separates.

9 thoughts on “Basque Salad Dressing

  1. We love and go to the Woolgrowers a couple times a year. We love it but go very hungry. Their salad dressing is the bomb. Myself and a couple friends have tried to duplicate it with not much luck. Thanks a lot. Don’t forget to have the traditional ‘pecone’ cocktail. Sorry about the spelling. Enjoy everyone.

  2. I was just visiting extended family in Hilmar and they took us to Woolgrowers in Los Banos for lunch. It was MOST EXCELLENT!!! I asked what was in the dressing and she listed the ingredients you posted, with the exception of the vinegar. They use red wine vinegar. And I don’t remember if there was sugar… That might be the difference that puts it over the top for you. I’m anxious to try this. Thanks!

  3. Thanks, wanting to make me some dressing, was spooning the dressing soup at the bottom of the salad bowl, so good.

  4. We love it there too. Just an update if you haven’t been there in a while. They’ve changed owners but the food is just as good. And the now take debit cards.

  5. Growing up in Elko,NV that is in the north eastern part of the state. We would go to both of the Basque restaurants there. BASQUE Festival is held there every year. The salad dressing tastes just like I had it years ago. Thank you for the recipe. My family loves it.

  6. I have the recipe so I can tell you might be close on flavor. But your not close on ingredients! My father dated the owners daughter. That’s how we got it and are sworn to secrecy.

  7. They take credit cards now. And if your only reason to go is for that delicious lamb stew, they don’t serve it. They have replaced it was chicken and rice pilaf. They use to be very ranch big man dinner and now they don’t give you second serving of main course, example you get a NewYork steak they charge you for another steak. Dessert is only a cup of vanilla ice cream (has been for the last 8 years), no cheese.

  8. Thank you for the recipe. I will try it out. They take credit cards now. And if your only reason to go is for that delicious lamb stew, they don’t serve it. It was replaced with chicken and rice pilaf.(September 1, 2019 at 5pm) We didn’t ask, but maybe they might still serve it. They use to be very ranch big man dinner and now they don’t give you second serving of main course; example you get a NewYork steak, they charge you for another steak serving. Prime rib is still very yummy. Dessert is only a cup of vanilla ice cream (has been for the last 5 years that I been there), no cheese. Overall, still a good place to dine.

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