Delightfully fresh, aromatic and flavor-packed, this delicious homemade ranch dressing recipe will be your go-to from now on for a variety of meals and snacks!
A couple of years ago a poll revealed that 40% of all Americans claim ranch dressing as their favorite and it remains the #1 best-selling dressing in the U.S.. While I love a lot of different salad dressings, I agree that ranch is fabulous. Especially a truly good homemade ranch dressing.
Homemade Ranch Dressing: Key Ingredients for the Best Flavor
The challenge with homemade ranch dressing is that it too often lacks flavor or that certain “something”. The store-bought stuff “cheats” by being packed full of additives, “natural flavors” (whatever those are), and flavor enhancers. But homemade dressing relies on natural ingredients to do the job and in order to maximize the flavor some key elements need to be followed.
First off, most store-bought ranch dressing uses MSG which adds the umami element that most homemade ranch dressings lack. Without that umami dimension the dressing lacks depth and complexity.
Can You Say “Umami”?
We’re going to mitigate that problem by using a flavorful substitute: Worcestershire sauce. This fermented condiment is a umami powerhouse and a great ingredient to add to a lot of foods, including this dressing, to get that extra depth of flavor.
Fresh Herbs Are Key To Making the Best Ranch Dressing
The second key is using fresh herbs wherever possible. Nothing beats fresh herbs in ranch salad dressing. Dried herbs can be used in a pinch when fresh herbs are lacking, but the flavor will suffer.
Here’s why: Dried herbs are a great choice for long and slow-cooked dishes where time enables the flavors to be coaxed out of the herbs. But for non-cooked “raw” dishes (like this dressing) or dishes that are cooked only briefly, fresh herbs are always the best choice because their flavors and oils are immediately present and can penetrate the dish quickly.
So be good to yourself and use fresh herbs for your dressing and you will be duly rewarded!
That Magical Touch of Sweetness
Lastly, we’re adding a touch of cane sugar. Food science explains that salt and sugar in combination provide a far greater taste enjoyment than either one on its own (think salted caramel, chocolate covered pretzels, and the reason salt is added to sweet baked goods).
And as the food scientists behind a University of Minnesota study observed, “Sugar plays an important role in contributing to the flavor profile of foods by interacting with other ingredients to enhance or lessen certain flavors.”
And here are a few ideas to put this ranch dressing to delicious use! Simply adjust the thickness of the dressing by reducing or increasing the buttermilk.
A Few Ways To Use Ranch Dressing
Ranch dressing is deliciously versatile. Here are a few ways to enjoy it.
- Leafy salads
- Pasta salads
- Potato salads
- Baked potatoes
- Potato skins
- Ranch pizza
- A dip for veggies, potato chips and French fries
- Dunk chicken in it before breading and frying
- Sandwiches, wraps and burgers
- Dipping chicken nuggets
- Dipping buffalo cauliflower and broccoli tots
- Buffalo chicken wings
- Foil packet meals
- Mashed potatoes
- and more…your imagination is the limit!
Let’s get started!
Place everything in a blender and pulse until smooth and the herbs are broken down (but do not liquify the herbs, just break down the herbs until they’re small green flecks in the dressing). Taste and add more seasonings according to preference.
Pour the dressing in an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before using, preferably overnight.
Will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups of ranch dressing.
Serve however your heart desires (see suggestions above)!
Be sure to also check out our recipes for the BEST Homemade:
BEST Homemade Ranch Dressing
- **We strongly recommend using fresh herbs for maximum flavor**
- 1/2 cup quality mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream (full fat)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk* (*use less if you want a thicker dressing or dip)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill weed (or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed)
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (or 3 teaspoons dried parsley)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives (or 2 teaspoons dried chives)
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cane sugar (see blog post for explanation)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- Place everything in a blender and pulse until smooth and the herbs are broken down (but do not liquify the herbs, just break down the herbs until they're small green flecks in the dressing). Taste and add more seasonings according to preference. Pour the dressing in an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before using, preferably overnight. Will keep in the fridge for up to a week.Makes about 1 1/2 cups of ranch dressing.
Barbara Nugent says
Here in Tailand we can’t always find American products. This was EZ to make and will become a staple in our Chiang Mai home.
Kimberly Killebrew says
I’m happy to hear that, Barbara, thank you so much!
I loved this recipe but felt the Worcestershire sauce was too overpowering.
Looking forward to making this and the other dressing recipes, like the Asian dressing one- love that dressing!!!!! They look delicious!
TO Make buttermilk simply mix 1 cup whole milk (not from dry) and 1 tsp. lemon juice (can use bottled too but fresh is better) or white vinegar- let stand for 10 minutes- it is just soured milk- has nothing to do with Butter despite its’ name, LOL. Keeps for about a week.
Jacque Hooper says
I never knew this recipe was so easy! I love that I can make this at home instead of buying from the store!
Sara Welch says
What a great recipe! So easy and flavorful too! Love that I can make this from home versus using a store bought version!
I love ranch dressing. So glad to make it at home now!
This ranch sounds utterly fantastic! Having salad for lunch so I think I’ll try this
Dorothy Reinhold says
My crew wants ranch on everything. Homemade always tastes SO much better. I am excited to try your blend.
Homemade versions are always so much better than store bought! Glad you cracked the code for that missing something.
Thanks for posting this. Living in England I haven’t a clue what it is, you don’t see a lot of it here, yet we hear it everywhere in US popular culture. Just wondered where is got its name? I’m guessing from ranchers but the idea of big beefy cowpokes tossing salad to accompany a 16oz T bone doesn’t seem right!
Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
Haha, that’s so true, Chris!! What equally doesn’t seem right is that ranch dressing was in fact invented in ice-capped Alaska by a plumber! :)
So, can you share with us the directions/recipe for how to make your own buttermilk? Would love to give it a try.
Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
That’s something I still have to experiment with myself. Once I’ve got it mastered I’ll publish a tutorial :)
In the Chicago area, it’s available at Pete’s Market stores, altho hm buttermilk sounds even more fabulous. I must try making it sometime! Thank you ~