Need an easy and flavor-packed classic recipe for buttermilk ranch dressing? Perfectly creamy with lots of tangy zip, this crowd-pleaser always gets rave reviews. Be sure to make extra to have on hand!
I might be biased, but I really think this is the best recipe for buttermilk ranch dressing. And it’s so much more than a dressing. Dip it, spread it, drizzle it – it makes everything better.
If you’ve never made your own homemade salad dressings, give this recipe a try. I know it’s easy to grab a bottle or a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch off the shelf at the store, but it’s amazing how easy and quick it is to make something that tastes so much better.
Along with buttermilk, my version includes fresh herbs and garlic, creamy mayo, sour cream, and mustard. I also like to add just a touch of hot sauce for a hint of warmth.
If you don’t like bottled ranch, this recipe might change your mind about ranch dressing. It only takes a few minutes and it’s so creamy and flavorful. You’ll want to keep a batch of it in the fridge all the time.
Wondering when to use this buttermilk ranch recipe?
Here’s some other foods that taste great with this ranch dressing recipe with buttermilk.
- Pizza: It’s wonderful drizzled over Cast Iron Skillet Pizza.
- Potatoes: Try layering a bit on the top of Roasted New Potatoes. Or use as a dip for Bacon-Wrapped Potatoes and Potato Skins.
- Burgers: Adding it to Smash Burgers and BBQ Sliders takes them over the top.
- Quesadillas: Dunk Shrimp and Corn Quesadillas in a big bowl of homemade dressing.
- Appetizers: If you’re looking for finger foods to dip in ranch, you’ll want to have it on hand for Sausage Balls, Barbecue Cups, or Jalapeno Poppers.
- Chicken: This recipe for buttermilk ranch is delicious with nearly any kind of chicken, like Buffalo Wings, Bacon-Wrapped Bites and Parmesan Tenders.
- Pork: Pretzel Wrapped Brats and Spiral Hot Dogs taste even better with a bit of ranch.
Why you’ll love easy homemade dressings
- It’s made with simple ingredients.
- Fresh herbs add a bright flavor.
- It only takes a few minutes.
- Customize it the way you want.
One of the best things about homemade dressings is that you can modify the recipes to make them the way you want. Use fresh or dried herbs. Substitute plain Greek yogurt for sour cream. Add a pinch of other herbs or spices like smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, basil or dill. Try a bit of lemon zest, extra hot sauce or red pepper flakes, mustard, crumbled feta or bleu cheese.
Experiment until you find your favorite version! You’ll love it so much more than any you pick up in the grocery stores.
Where did ranch dressing originate?
If you’re like me, you may wonder who invented this popular dressing. It was a man by the name of Steve Henson, a Nebraska native, who made ranch dressing famous. He first invented a new salad dressing in 1950 while living in Alaska. By 1957 he was selling his make-at-home packaged mix in stores. He named the brand Hidden Valley Ranch, after the name of his home in Santa Barbara County, California. In 1972 Henson sold the company to Clorox with a hefty price tag of $8 million.
What is it made of?
The recipe for ranch dressing traditionally includes buttermilk, herbs, salt, onion, garlic, mustard, mayonnaise and sour cream or yogurt. Regular ranch dressing is generally made by using a packet of dehydrated herbs and buttermilk to which you add milk. It’s hard to get creamy dressings from a packet. In this recipe you get all of the traditional ranch flavors but you’ll see a huge difference in this homemade version.
What you’ll need
Buttermilk – for the best flavor, I recommend a full fat buttermilk, but low fat will still be delicious, you’ll need a cup of buttermilk.
Mayonnaise – helps make the dressing creamy and rich.
Sour cream – the full-fat variety makes the best-tasting dressing, but you can use a lower-fat version if you prefer. You can also substitute plain yogurt.
Minced fresh garlic – adds just the right amount of zing.
Shallot – if you can’t find shallots, you can substitute a yellow onion or you can even use green onions.
Fresh chives – these have a mild taste similar to green onions.
Fresh parsley – you can use flat-leaf or curly parsley. To keep parsley fresh until you’re ready to use it, treat it like a bunch of flowers. Trim the ends and wrap in a damp paper towel in an open bag to keep it from gathering moisture. Parsley should last about a week in the fridge.
Mustard – whole grain dijon is my favorite kind to use, but substitute another kind if you prefer.
Hot sauce – a tiny splash adds a touch of spicy heat.
Salt and black pepper – freshly ground pepper is the best.
Pro tip: If you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, you can substitute dried. Generally, one tablespoon of fresh herbs equals one teaspoon of dried herbs.
How to make homemade ranch dressing
Chop the herbs, garlic and shallots very fine.
Place all of the ingredients together in a jar with a lid, and shake it until all of the ingredients are combined. Or you can whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl. For a thinner dressing, add more buttermilk. For thicker ranch salad dressing, decrease the buttermilk or add more sour cream.
Store the dressing in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This gives the mixture a chance to chill and lets the flavors come together.
Substitutes for buttermilk
It seems I’m always running out of buttermilk, or the carton has gotten pushed to the back of the fridge and has mold growing on top. Half the time my grocery is all out of buttermilk. For those times, here are a few substitutions whether you’re making ranch dressing or biscuits.
- Make your own by adding a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a 1 cup measuring cup and adding milk. Let it sit for about 5 minutes until it’s slightly thickened. It won’t get quite as thick as cultured buttermilk.
- Keep powdered buttermilk on hand, like Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur’s.
- Sour cream is a good substitute for some recipes, just thin it with milk. In this recipe, you can use milk instead of buttermilk, it just won’t be quite as tangy, so try making your own with milk and lemon juice.
Once you have a batch of ranch dressing you love, start to customize it.
- Try making a bbq ranch dressing by adding ¼ cup of your favorite barbecue sauce.
- If you like a spicy ranch dressing, try making chipotle ranch dressing, just add 1-2 chipotle peppers that have been finely ground with a knife or in the food processor.
- For a Buffalo ranch dressing, add 2 tablespoons of your favorite buffalo sauce like Frank’s Red Hot or Texas Pete, or make your own buffalo sauce, and reduce the buttermilk by the same amount.
- Try a Southwest ranch dressing and add 2 tablespoons of your favorite taco seasoning.
How to make Ranch Dip
If you want to make homemade Ranch dip instead of dressing, start by using less buttermilk, just ¼ cup, and add more until you get the consistency you want. If it’s too thin, add more sour cream.
Other tasty recipes that use ranch buttermilk dressing
FAQs and tips
If your finished dressing is too thick, add in more buttermilk, a tablespoon at a time, until it’s as thin as you like. If you prefer it thicker or to use it as a dip, reduce the amount of buttermilk to get the consistency you desire.
Store your homemade dressing in an airtight container in the fridge and it should last up to 3-4 weeks. You can add a label on your storage container with the date you made it so you know if it’s getting close to its expiration date.
Three main ingredients give ranch its signature taste. Mayo and sour cream give the dressing its creamy texture. Buttermilk lends the tangy, slightly soured taste. You can substitute regular milk if that’s all you have on hand, but add some lemon juice or vinegar. Herbs, onion and garlic provide layers of mild flavor. When everything is combined, you get that classic ranch flavor we all love.
According to Google, people in the Midwest and South Dakota in particular love ranch the most. There are a few countries in Europe where ranch is somewhat popular (England, France, Germany and Ireland) but it’s mostly served in the US. In 1992 it beat out Italian to become the best-selling salad dressing in the country.
If you loved this recipe, give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating! Also, snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #butterandbaggage and tagging me @butterandbaggage.
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- 1 cup Buttermilk
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons shallot minced
- 1 tablespoon parsley finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons chives finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon whole grain dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
- Combine all ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake. Or whisk together in a small bowl. Chill for 30 minutes before use.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- If the dressing is too thin, add more sour cream.
- If the dressing is too thick, add more buttermilk.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, add a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- If making into a dip, start with ¼ cup of buttermilk.