I realize that homemade ranch dressing isn’t some kind of revolutionary concept, but for some of us, these things come slowly. I have a long and storied relationship with ranch dressing that goes back to the 70’s when I remember those first packets of the Hidden Valley salad dressing mix showing up in the grocery stores. We mixed it with mayonnaise and buttermilk and practically drank the stuff it was so good. Before that, it seems like our salad dressing options were Italian, French and blue cheese, with the occasional green goddess. Ranch dressing was a total game changer.
Through the years I continued to buy the little packets, faithfully mixing in the mayonnaise and buttermilk. I might have even bought the bottled version when the kids were in high school cuz we were going through it so fast. But I soon reverted back to the packets.
A few months ago I decided it really was time to ditch the packet and start making my own ranch dressing. The reason I made this decision, was because after all these years (true confession), I finally read the back of the packet.
Holy buckets of sodium! For crying out loud, people. Look at what the first 2 ingredients are!! Salt and MSG. And the rest of the ingredients are incredibly suspicious and non-healthy-sounding. I still can’t believe it took me this long to turn that packet over and read the back side. Perhaps I really didn’t want to know. But once I knew, there was no going back.
Again, this may not be big news to many of you who are already making your own ranch dressing and feeling a little smug and proud of yourselves about now. Well, good on you! And if that’s the case, perhaps you would like to flip on over to this here recipe and start making your own mayonnaise for your homemade ranch dressing.
Now, you would think that with all of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of ranch dressing recipes circulating around out there that this would have been an easy recipe to come up with. But sadly, no. I can’t even tell you how many versions and incarnations of ranch dressing I’ve tried, and how many have met their demise down the kitchen sink… too thin, too sweet, too salty, too much paprika (don’t put paprika in your ranch dressing, please). I could go on and on, but it was a good process for me to go through because I finally figured out what I like about ranch dressing and what flavors I was trying so desperately to achieve.
First and foremost, for me, ranch dressing must have that fresh tang of buttermilk; it must be creamy and loaded with flavorful herbs, and yes, the right amount of salt and pepper. As it turns out, there were two products that helped me achieve these flavors.
One is Morton’s Nature’s Seasonings, just because I liked the balance of onion and garlic, salt and pepper that it brought to the party. The other was Litehouse freeze-dried dill. Of course, fresh dill would be wonderful, but I almost felt like this freeze-dried dill had more flavor than the fresh. Plus, I like that I always have it on hand.
It was a pretty happy moment when I got all of those flavors lined up and balanced just right. Ranch dressing has never tasted so good. And felt so right. So, in case you, too, are ready to ditch the packet (or the bottle), here’s my recipe…
Homemade Ranch Dressing
There are a couple of products I've used to create this dressing that should be available in most supermarkets. One is Morton's Nature's Seasons and the other is LItehouse freeze-dried dill. If you can't find the Morton's seasoning, just use another seasoning salt that includes garlic, onion, parsley and celery. The freeze-dried dill I found at Target in the produce section next to the herbs, but any store that carries Litehouse salad dressings, etc., should have it. Of course, you can use fresh dill if you have it on hand! They also carry freeze-dried parsley and chives, but I have't tried those yet. Feel free to adjust the herbs and seasonings to create your own perfect, personal ranch dressing recipe!
1 cup each buttermilk and mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Morton's Nature's Seasons
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons each chopped fresh chives and parsley
1 teaspoon freeze-dried dill (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped)
Combine all of the ingredients in a jar and shake well to blend (or mix in a bowl and use a whisk to blend). Refrigerate for at least an hour before using.