Homemade Ranch Dressing is all-natural, loaded with buttermilk and herbs, simple to make, and so good that you’ll never go back to store-bought again!
If you love ranch on all the things, you should also try my dried Homemade Ranch Dressing/Seasoning Mix, snacking on this delectable Parmesan Ranch Popcorn, or taking your ranch dressing south of the border with this Avocado Ranch Dressing.
Who loves creamy, flavorful Buttermilk Ranch Dressing?! I’ve coined this one “the best” because…well, I honestly think it is, y’all. As in, I could drink it straight out of the jar, no lettuce required. As in, my kids have scarfed down giant, veggie-loaded salads with nary a complaint every day this week. And as in, ranch salad dressing and I go waaaay back…and I’ve never had better.
When I was a kid, my mom always made “homemade” ranch dressing using those (not homemade) Hidden Valley packets. In college, I was introduced to glorious Hidden Valley Ranch goodness in a bottle. In fact, my roommates and I always had a jumbo jug in the fridge. We didn’t keep it on hand for salads, mind you…instead we dipped our pizza in it. 😉
But once I had kids and began to pay more attention to the quality of food that I was feeding my family, I started religiously reading labels. And consequently, I was aghast to discover some not-so-natural ingredients in my beloved Hidden Valley. I tried other varieties of all-natural or organic ranch dressing, but they all tasted terrible to me. So if I couldn’t have the “authentic” ranch taste that had been training my taste buds for so many years, I begrudgingly decided that I would just go without ranch altogether.
And then one day, it occurred to me that maybe it would be a worthwhile experiment to attempt my own from-scratch ranch salad dressing, in hopes of recapturing my ranch-loving days of yore. And you know what? The dressing I whipped up was surprisingly good. So I just kept on adjusting and tweaking my recipe until I arrived at a Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing that honestly puts HV to shame!
How to Make Ranch Dressing
Sometimes making the things you love at home from scratch can be a bit intimidating, but I promise that this ranch is worth the minimal effort. It’s healthier (as in, no additives or preservatives), more budget-friendly, and quick and easy to whip up in a flash. In fact, I feel like I make this ranch dressing at least once a week around here!
It’s basically as straightforward as whisking together mayo, sour cream, and buttermilk. Then simply blend in some herbs, flavorings, and spices.
Now there is one final, very important step that does require a bit of planning ahead and/or patience. Refrigerate your ranch dressing for four hours (or ideally, overnight) to let the flavors come together. I promise, homemade ranch dressing just won’t taste as good until you allow it to chill. And if, in the process, it thickens too much, you can always stir in a little extra buttermilk to thin it back out.
How to Make Buttermilk
Buttermilk is one of those ingredients that most people don’t keep in their fridge. But I do feel like it’s an integral part of this recipe, as it gives ranch dressing its slightly tangy taste. The good thing, though, is that you can make your own buttermilk.
Making buttermilk is as easy as using 1 tablespoon of acid for every cup of milk. So for this recipe, just add 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice or white vinegar to a 1-cup measuring cup. Fill the rest of the way to the half-cup mark with whole milk and stir to combine. Let the mixture sit for five to ten minutes and it will thicken and curdle, turning into buttermilk!
Is Mayonnaise Really Necessary?
I should say that, first of all, I don’t like to taste the mayonnaise in my ranch dressing, which is the problem I have with most of the non-Hidden Valley bottled ranch dressings out there. Yet I find mayonnaise to be a necessary component in ranch.
Fortunately I’ve discovered that by using equal parts mayo, sour cream, and buttermilk — and allowing the flavors to blend while the dressing chills — the prominent notes of mayonnaise disappear, the flavor of the dressing is balanced, and its consistency is perfect for salads.
Just keep in mind that if you want to keep your dressing “real food” quality, you need to pay attention to the ingredients in the mayonnaise that you buy. If you’re feeling really gung-ho, you can even make your own from scratch! But don’t feel obligated…there are store-bought jars of mayo with decent ingredients, so just be sure to read the labels.
Does Ranch Dressing Need Fresh Herbs?
When I have fresh herbs, I love to use them in my ranch. But dried herbs work just fine as well. For this particular batch, my mom had brought me a big bunch of fresh parsley, so I happily stirred it into my dressing. But I didn’t have fresh dill on hand, so I used dried.
I think this dressing is perfect using parsley and dill as its only herbs. However, feel free to toss in your favorites and experiment with the flavors. Chives add a nice little bite if you’re into onions (which I am vehemently not). Or you can even add a bit of basil or cilantro for a totally different twist!
And while I loooooove fresh garlic, I find that it has a tendency to overpower this dressing. So I use garlic powder instead, as well as a splash of apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. The resulting flavors complement one another beautifully.
Does Ranch Dressing Need To Be Refrigerated?
The short answer is: yes! A good rule to live by is if you put refrigerated ingredients into a recipe, then you need to put that final product back in the fridge to keep it fresh (unless it’s baked, like a cake). Because this homemade ranch dressing contains mayo, sour cream, and buttermilk, it definitely needs to stay chilled.
This ranch dressing will keep in the fridge for up to four days…if you can keep from eating it all before then, that is!
How Do I Make Ranch Dip?
If you like Ranch Dip, adapting this recipe is as simple as leaving out the buttermilk and adding extra mayo and sour cream in its place. I can assure you that your carrot sticks will never be so happy!
I really hope y’all give this Homemade Buttermilk Ranch a try! It’s soooo simple to make and it’s absolutely delicious. The most time-intensive step is chopping the herbs, if you’re using fresh. Other than that, it’s just a matter of measuring, whisking, and then remaining patient as the dressing chills.
So if you’re a fan of ranch, I encourage you to make this recipe STAT! It’ll have your family and friends begging for more. It’ll make you crave salad for breakfast. Heck, it may even infiltrate your dreams. Because — let’s be honest — the best recipes always do. 😉
The BEST Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup good-quality mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley (OR 1 tablespoon dried parsley)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh minced dill (OR 1/2 teaspoon dried dill)
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, and buttermilk until smooth. Stir in parsley, dill, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Blend well and adjust seasonings, to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. If consistency is too thick, thin out dressing with a splash of additional buttermilk.
- If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by pouring 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice (or white vinegar) into a 1-cup liquid measuring cup. Fill the measuring cup up to the 1/2-cup line with milk (whole milk is preferred but low-fat/skim milk will work). Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before proceeding with recipe.
- To make Ranch Dip (instead of dressing), use a total of 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 3/4 cup sour cream, and eliminate the buttermilk.
Post originally published on May 7, 2015.
More Homemade Salad Dressings
- Homemade Italian Salad Dressing
- Lightened-Up Honey Mustard Dressing
- Homemade French & Catalina Salad Dressings
- Balsamic Vinaigrette