This made-from-scratch Ranch Dressing recipe is thick, creamy, and packed with fresh herbs, just the way you and your vegetables want it. It’s perfect for dipping, dressing, and tossing!
Homemade Ranch is really easy to make! Without a doubt, it’s absolutely the most kid-friendly of all the salad dressings out there.
And it has the power to make everything it touches (except cake) even more delicious.
The biggest secret is this: Fresh buttermilk.
What is buttermilk?
Just because it’s thicker, doesn’t mean it’s richer! Buttermilk is a pasteurized milk product that is made by introducing a lactic acid culture to low-fat milk, which curdles the protein. That makes it thicker and more acidic. Amazingly, real buttermilk is lower in fat than cream and regular milk.
Dried vs. Fresh Buttermilk. I LOVE the little containers of everlasting, powdered buttermilk, like Knudsen brand or Baker’s Secret, but please, for the love of ranch, don’t use that here. Use the real buttermilk from the dairy section at your grocery store.
Save the buttermilk powder (in all other ways a totally great, legitimate product!) for all your baking needs.
- To fresh buttermilk, add mayonnaise, sour cream, plenty of chopped parsley and dill, lemon juice, red onion, garlic, and some salt and pepper. (I also add a pinch of sugar just to make the flavors pop, but you can leave it out if you’re worried about sugar intake).
- Whisk it up until blended. Let the flavors meld in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before drinking – I mean, eating. Enjoy this ranch on your favorite garden salad or pepperoni pizza. No judgement!
- Lemon juice or vinegar. It’s okay to use plain white vinegar in place of lemon juice. Both are nicely acidic and taste great.
- Storage and shelf life. The dressing should last 4 days in the refrigerator per standard CDC guidelines for leftovers. It’s possible it would last longer, up to a week. If separation occurs you can just shake or stir to recombine.
Good buttermilk substitutes:
These are some common substitutions for buttermilk in recipes.
- Milk and yogurt. Stir 1/4 cup milk into 3/4 cup plain yogurt to create a nicely thick buttermilk substitute.
- Milk and lemon juice. in a liquid measuring cup, add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Then top the lemon juice with milk. Stir this and let sit for two minutes at room temperature. After two minutes, the milk should be curdled. If you need 2 cups of buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to the milk. (Two whole tablespoons aren’t necessary.)
- Chipotle. Mix adobo sauce to taste for a smoky, spicy flavor (start with a teaspoon or two and go from there!). If you love spicy, you can process the dressing in a blender with 1 or 2 whole chipotle chiles until smooth.
- Vegan. In place of sour cream and buttermilk, you can use a non-dairy sour cream and a plant-based milk, such as coconut milk, almond milk, or oat milk.
- Ranch dip. Mix up a batch of homemade ranch dressing mix and make a dip with mayo, yogurt, or sour cream. Equally delicious with chicken fingers, as it is with onion rings or fried green tomatoes.
More classic salads:
- Easy potato salad
- Broccoli salad with bacon and cheese
- Classic macaroni salad
- Creamy cucumber salad
- Seven layer salad
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Homemade Ranch Dressing Recipe
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 6 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 tablespoon red onion minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley minced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of sugar
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate at least 10 minutes to blend flavors. Whisk to recombine before serving.