Fresh, Tangy Ranch Dressing from Scratch
Homemade ranch dressing is so much fresher and more flavourful than bottled or powdered dressing. Plus, like other salad dressings, it takes mere minutes to make!
Growing up in the US, ranch dressing was always one of my favorites. The powdered variety makes a divine chicken seasoning, while the one in the jar is a fantastic all rounder.
Hence, I’ve used ranch dressing as a dip, a spread, and an ingredient for years. It never even occurred to me to make it from scratch.
However, living in South Africa, ranch dressing is less common. Plus, my preferred brand of ranch dressing isn’t even available here.
So, the only way to satisfy my cravings was to make it myself! This challenge was actually an opportunity in disguise. It turns out homemade ranch dressing is super easy to whip up and is even better than my favorite brand of store bought dressing.
Ranch dressing was originally developed in the 1950s by a gentleman named Steve Henson. Later, he and his wife, Gayle, opened the Hidden Valley dude ranch in California. Steve’s special dressing was such a hit with their guests that they clamoured to take it home to share with friends and family.
So, the Henson’s began bottled the dressing in small batches for their guests. Eventually, as word spread, demand for this delicious dressing became so intense that the Henson’s opened a small factory. Today, a modified version of the original is sold in supermarkets worldwide and has become an iconic American flavour!
In researching this recipe, I was surprised to discover a wide variety of combinations and permutations. Some recipes call for buttermilk alone. Others call for a mixture of buttermilk and sour cream, mayonnaise, or yoghurt. There are all kinds of variations in terms of the fresh herbs for the dressing.
However, I stick with buttermilk alone, for a thin (and lighter) dressing, and the classic trio of parsley, chives, and dill. This version hones most closely to the flavours I remember from my childhood, while respecting modern ideas about health and nutrition.
If you like your dressing thicker or want to use it as a dip, you can always stir in 1/3 cup or so of sour cream or mayonnaise to thicken it up.
Yogurt is also a good option. It thickens the dressing nicely. However, it also adds its own flavour to the mix. So, which thickener you use will ultimately depend on your menu and personal preference.
Whether you thicken this dressing or not, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much better this recipe is than anything at the supermarket. If you have children at home, they’ll thoroughly enjoy salads better when they’re dressed with this tasty ranch dressing. Bon appétit!