Cool, creamy, tangy, and garlicky; our Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing is bursting with fresh flavors!
There is nothing like a good, fresh buttermilk Ranch dressing. You might suppose that good, fresh, homemade Ranch is a relatively simple thing to make – and turns out, it is! But first, you have to have a great recipe.
So just what is a perfect Ranch, anyway? In my mind, it's creamy and cool, with a fresh, light, buttermilky tang. It has a bright, clean flavor with absolutely no bottle or preservative taste, and it pours smoothly and stays where you pour it.
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We’ve been trying to develop a “perfect Ranch recipe” for what seems like forever now. After making innumerable batches, we established that the most important recipe factor rests in the ratio of the three main “creamy base” ingredients.
You must have just the right balance of buttermilk, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Get those right, and you can adjust the seasonings and undertones to your heart’s delight. Want to make a Super-Garlicky Ranch? Go ahead and throw in more garlic. Want to make an Avocado-Cilantro Ranch? Easy peasy. Just don't change the ratios of the big three: buttermilk, sour cream, and mayo.
In tandem with our “creamy base” ratio is a single rule – one that (I have learned the hard way) must never be broken. (OK, that sounds pretty dramatic: of course, rules were made to be…, etc. etc. But I’m telling you, this one makes a real difference.)
The one rule you must follow to make the BEST Buttermilk Ranch Dressing ever:
Always use full-fat ingredients.
That’s it. That’s all you need to know – use full-fat buttermilk, full-fat sour cream; and yes, even full-fat mayo - because the BEST ranch dressing is always made with full-fat ingredients.
Basically, when it comes to making ranch dressing, you have a choice: you can make light ranch dressing, or you can make a rich, creamy, delicious ranch dressing, but you can’t have both.
If you want to make a fresh, delicious, creamy ranch, keep reading. If you’re looking for a “lite” dressing recipe, keep searching, because this is not the recipe you are looking for.
No, but seriously; can I sub in lower-fat ingredients?
Of course, you can! (Just don’t come crying to me when your dressing is weak and weepy.)
Ingredient Notes, including substitutions that will work (and a couple that won’t):
Buttermilk: Adding lemon juice or vinegar to milk is not making real buttermilk, and in this case, it does make a difference. Use full-fat store-bought or home cultured buttermilk. If you do culture your own buttermilk, use full-fat milk in the process.
Sour cream: If necessary, you can sub in plain greek yogurt, but it will make the dressing decidedly more tangy. In any event, use full-fat dairy in all cases.
I haven't tried to make this with non-dairy sour cream (i.e., cashew sour cream, etc.) so I can't speak to how well that would work; however, if you are already using buttermilk, you probably don't have a problem with dairy, so just go ahead and use the sour cream already.
Mayonnaise: You can use store-bought or homemade mayo: just make sure it’s full-fat.
Do not use Miracle Whip. We are a Miracle Whip family, so I say this with both understanding and appreciation; MW is not mayonnaise. Do not ever, ever sub it into this or any other non-sandwich-filling recipe calling for mayo.
Green Onions: We’ve used fresh chives, dried chives, scallions, red onion, and even chopped sweet onion. (Note that because this dressing is made in a blender, red onions will turn your dressing a light pink color. Which might be good in case you ever need to serve ranch dressing at an old-school baby shower or frost an english muffin for April Fools Day.)
Dill: For the purposes of this recipe, dried dill works as well as fresh. However, using it makes it even more critical to allow the dressing to sit in the fridge for at least a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. This is the one ingredient I sub in all the time.
Garlic: Hold up, garlic lovers! I know you want to throw a couple extra cloves of garlic in. I feel you. I did that too, during recipe development. But a little garlic goes a long way in Ranch dressing, so before you throw in another clove, give it a taste.
Garlic powder may also be substituted.
Lemon Zest: Zest brings a big punch in a little package. We love the clean, bright flavor it adds.
You can sub in a teaspoon of lemon juice, or even a teaspoon of vinegar.
White Pepper: White pepper is a spice produced from the dried fruit of the pepper plant, Piper nigrum (as is black pepper). It is usually milder than black pepper, and comes very finely ground. We like the low-key peppery taste it brings to the dressing without competing with the other flavors. You may sub in any pepper of your choice.
Chili Powder: We use a mild chili power. Like the lemon zest, this adds to the overall profile, but not call itself out in the process.
Substitutions include a ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon of mild hot sauce or a sprinkle of dried hot pepper flakes.
Xanthan gum: This is a natural thickener that helps bind and stabilize the dressing. It can be found the bulk food area of many stores. Using it is totally optional to this recipe; however, if omitted, your dressing will be a little thinner and may separate slightly between uses.
For the best outcome, layer ingredients in blender in the order given in the recipe, top to bottom. If you are using a beverage blender (the kind for which you fill the cup and then turn it over to blend), layer the ingredients in order from bottom to top.
Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- Put everything in a blender cup and blitz until smooth. For the best outcome, layer ingredients in blender in the order given in the recipe, top to bottom. If you are using a beverage blender (the kind for which you fill the cup and then turn it over to blend), layer the ingredients in order from the bottom of the list to the top.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
What Homemade Ranch Dressing good for? Some people would say - Everything! Here’s a few ways we love to enjoy this Ranch recipe:
- Dipping wings, nuggets, and fresh veggies.
- Dunking breadsticks and crudites.
- Slathering sandwiches.
- Sprinkling potato skins.
- Drizzling corn on the cob and pizza.
- Elevating BLTs.
If you love salad dressings made with fresh, tasty ingredients, be sure to check out our other delicious salad dressing recipes:
Did you know?
According to Thrillest, the average American consumes 38 salads a year (which sounds really low to me: we eat a minimum of four or five salads a week). Of those 38 salads, fifteen of them are served up with Ranch dressing; more than twice as often as its closest rival, Italian.
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