This homemade ranch dressing is quick and easy to prepare! Just combine sour cream and buttermilk with bold, savory seasonings and fresh herbs. Make a batch to use throughout the week for salads or as a creamy dipping sauce.
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Skip the store-bought stuff, and try making ranch dressing at home. You might be surprised that you already have everything you need. Sour cream, buttermilk, and a small amount of mayonnaise give the famous sauce its characteristic cool and creamy flavor.
Prepare a batch at the beginning of the week so that you can grab it to drizzle onto a fresh green salad, or use it as a condiment to dip your favorite appetizers. There are also tips for making ingredient swaps that don’t skimp on the taste.
Use sour cream or yogurt
Sour cream adds a smooth texture and tangy taste. The full-fat version contains about 16% fat, providing a creamy consistency with a hint of sweetness. However, I find 5% milkfat plain greek yogurt like Fage offers a similar texture.
The protein and fat help to thicken the product. The fermentation process utilizing probiotics in the yogurt provides a tart flavor plus digestive health benefits while containing slightly less fat.
Mayonnaise stabilizes the dressing
Mayonnaise is an emulsified condiment made from oil, eggs, and lemon juice. The lecithin in the eggs is an emulsifying agent that allows the oils and water to disperse evenly. Mayo prevents the dressing from separating. Adding in just a small amount keeps the ranch smooth and stable for longer. Plus, the extra fat in the oil and egg yolk adds extra richness.
Adjust the consistency with buttermilk
I use cultured buttermilk to make a pourable dressing, but one that still clings to lettuce and foods. This liquid has a tangy taste for extra flavor and is thicker than milk. Make sure to shake or whisk as it can clump on the bottom of the carton. You can easily make homemade buttermilk with 1/4 cup plain low-fat or whole fat yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup water.
Alternatively, whole milk is an acceptable substitute but won’t be as thick, so start with adding 1/4 cup and then add 1 tablespoon at a time until the dressing consistency is reached. For a more tart flavor, add some lemon juice to the dressing, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Add bold seasonings
I use powdered garlic and onion to add a savory touch to the cool and creamy dairy products. I prefer these convenient pantry staples because they deliver mellow sulfurous notes with an earthy flavor, without the strong, pungent taste when freshly minced.
The drying process concentrates the allium’s flavor, so you only need a small amount of each. Kosher salt adds an extra bump of saltiness, while Dijon mustard provides a slightly spicy and sharp tang.
Add a trio of herbs
To deliver the sought out fresh garden taste, I use a combination of freshly chopped parsley, dill, and chives. The aromatic herbs add a pop of color, and the flavors complement crisp lettuce and other leafy greens.
To adjust the thickness
I developed this ranch dressing recipe so I can drizzle it onto salads. However, for a more dense consistency, like for dipping in crudites, chicken wings, or tenders, start with using half the amount of buttermilk. Gradually add more liquid until you hit the desired coating level.
What to serve this with
Using dried herbs
To swap dried herbs for fresh ones, I use about ⅓ of the amount because the flavors get more intense and concentrated as they dry. For this recipe, use about 1 teaspoon dried parsley and chives, and ½ teaspoon dried dill weed because the particles are much smaller and have greater dispersion.
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Homemade Ranch Dressing
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup sour cream, or 5% milk-fat plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill, or ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, chives, parsley, and dill until smooth.
- If desired, add more buttermilk to make a thinner dressing. Gradually add 1 tablespoon liquid at a time. Season to taste.
- Serve with salad or as a dipping sauce for vegetables or other appetizers.¼
- Recipe Yield: 1 cup
- Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
- Storing: Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- For a Thicker Sauce: Whisk in ¼ cup of buttermilk. Gradually add in an additional 1 tablespoon at a time (about 1 to 2) until the desired consistency is reached.
- Buttermilk Substitute: Add 1/4 cup plain low-fat or whole fat yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup water. Alternatively, add 1/4 cup whole milk, then gradually add 1 tablespoon additions until the desired dressing consistency is reached. To make the dressing more tart and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice at a time to the whole milk mixture.
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