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.
How to Make the BEST Ranch Dressing: Key Ingredients
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.
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.
How 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!
Ranch Dressing Recipe
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)!
For more phenomenal homemade dressings be sure to try our:
- Italian Dressing
- French Dressing
- Blue Cheese Dressing
- Thousand Island Dressing
- Russian Dressing
- Asian Salad Dressing
- Creamy Cilantro Dressing
- Strawberry Poppy Seed Dressing
- Orange Poppy Seed Dressing
- Lemon Dill Mustard Dressing
BEST 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.
Originally published on The Daring Gourmet July 8, 2019