Homemade Ranch Dressing

Creamy, tangy and zesty, there's a reason why Ranch Dressing is America's favorite condiment. And while the bottled stuff is fine, nothing beats the flavor of homemade. And it only takes a few minutes to make!
homemade Ranch dressing in a bowl with green salad

I’m trying to remember when Ranch dressing became the obsession it is currently. It was in the 2000’s, right? Before that, if you wanted salad dressing, you’d have Russian, or French, or maybe Italian. If you were feeling fancy, creamy Italian.

Now people are dipping pizza in it, drizzling it on burritos, pouring it on burgers (yes, I know i sound like a 100 year old fuddy duddy. Kids these days and their crazy Ranch dressing shenanigans!). Doing some kind of Ranch dressing Tiktok challenge or whatever, who knows.

I’m not judging. Ranch dressing is damn delicious and people should do what they want with it in the privacy of their own homes. But you know what’s even better than Ranch dressing? Homemade Ranch Dressing.

A little ranch dressing history

Ranch was invented in the 1950s by a gentleman named Steve Henson, a plumber from the tiny village of Thayer, Nebraska. At some point he travelled to Anchorage, Alaska where he held a job as a construction worker and occasional cook for the crew. In that part of the world, perishable ingredients like dairy products, fresh herbs, garlic and onions were few and far between. Necessity being the mother of invention, and all that, the idea of using mostly dry ingredients was born.

Later, Steve and and his wife, Gayle, moved to California and bought a ranch, which they named… you guessed it: Hidden Valley.

so what makes ranch, ranch?

When you’re putting together a homemade ranch dressing, the building blocks are threefold: a creamy base, usually a combination of buttermilk, sour cream and mayonnaise. Some sort of allium, likely in the form of garlic powder and onion powder. And lastly herbs, most commonly parsley, thyme and dill.

If you can find buttermilk, its tangy richness is fantastic here. If you don’t have it, you can use regular milk and add just a touch more acid to balance the flavors.

In the original version, all of these ingredients (other than the dairy) would be dried but in our taste tests, fresh herbs beat out dried by a mile. The fresh herbaceous flavor just doesn’t come through in dried versions.

Of course, you could use dried, but if you have access to fresh, it’s definitely worth using. We like the combination of parsley, dill and chives the best, but you could use any combination of soft herbs you want (other soft herbs include basil, tarragon, mint and cilantro). We would be careful with hard herbs like rosemary, oregano and thyme which could overpower the other flavors (though if used sparingly, could also be quite good).

On the other hand, when it comes to the alliums (other than the fresh chives), we actually preferred garlic powder and onion powder to fresh. Powdered gives it a really nice mild flavor, without the harshness that raw garlic and onion impart.

Other than that, it’s just salt, a generous crack of pepper and a touch of acid in the form of lemon juice or vinegar. Done and dusted. Transfer the dressing to a clean glass jar and it will last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

ranch is more than just a dressing

It’s fantastic on salads but creamy, cool, herbaceous ranch dressing makes a great foil for anything spicy, crispy or charred. A dip for pizza, yes, but also spicy chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, pita chips.

But our favorite non-traditional use for it is as the base for an unbelievably delicious marinade for ranch-marinated chicken. The buttermilk is a fantastic tenderizer, and the result is the juiciest, most tender chicken we’ve ever made. Obsessed.

Homemade ranch is the base for the best chicken marinade we’ve ever made. You have to try it.
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Homemade Ranch Dressing

Creamy, tangy and zesty, there's a reason why Ranch Dressing is America's favorite condiment. And while the bottled stuff is fine, nothing beats the flavor of homemade. And it only takes a few minutes to make!
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: condiment, Salad Dressing
Cuisine: American
Keyword: creamy, dressing, ranch, Salad, tangy
Servings: 1.5 cups


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or milk
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh chives or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced parsley or 3/4 teaspoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Whisk together the mayo, sour cream and buttermilk until smooth. Add the herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and whisk until combined. Pour into a clean glass jar and keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week (we finished ours up at 2 weeks and it was still perfectly good).
Tried this recipe?Mention @NerdsWithKnives or tag #nerdswithknives!

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