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Home » Practicing the basics: ranch dressing (and dip)

Practicing the basics: ranch dressing (and dip)

Whether you intend to use it as a salad dressing or as a dip for finger food, ranch dressing is a delight. You can buy it in the grocery store; just don’t read the ingredient list (you won’t recognize half the things they put in it). But there are at least three good reasons to make it yourself:

  • It’s cheaper, especially if you need a lot of it;
  • You control the ingredient list;
  • You can make it taste exactly the way you want.

Plus it’s easy. No cooking, and only two steps: mix everything together, and refrigerate for an hour.

Makes 1 3/4 cups. Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes.


  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Dash of black pepper

In a medium bowl, stir together all of the ingredients until well mixed.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for at least one hour before serving. This will give the flavors an opportunity to mix and build some complexity.

Tips and suggestions:

  • This recipe calls for fresh parsley, dill and chives, but that’s not a luxury we necessarily have. You can substitute dried versions of these herbs, but you should increase the dill and chives to 1 1/2 tsp. each because dried herbs have a flatter taste. However, let’s be clear: it will taste better with fresh herbs.
  • The recipe also uses buttermilk. A generation ago, buttermilk was (true to its name) the milk left over after churning butter, but these days it’s a product of its own, essentially milk that is cultured to make it more acidic. You can substitute regular milk, but you may need to add some more lemon juice (but not too much!) to make up for the lesser acidity. Ranch dressing is supposed to be tangy, after all.
  • This is a great recipe for messing with the proportions of the flavorings until you get a final product that you are happy with.

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