I don’t really like the gelatinous blob of white stuff that passes for ranch dressing at most restaurants and bars. It’s over-seasoned to the point of tasting unhealthy–and I’m no health nut. I should admit that I’m not a huge fan of ranch to begin with. But the wife is, so I made a version that we both enjoy.
Ranch is basically a combination of milk, a thickener, and additional seasonings. You can use buttermilk or regular milk thickened with mayonnaise, yogurt, or sour cream, depending on how fat-conscious you are. Then there are the countless variations of herbs and spices people use to boost the flavor, the most common being garlic, chives, salt, and pepper.
I’m a big fan of simplicity, so the recipe I developed is a base recipe, meaning that even though it’s good by itself, it’s a jumping-off point for experimentation. This was born from the fact that you can’t buy just a pint of buttermilk (which isn’t even real buttermilk anyway). When I make waffles, I’m left with several cups of excess buttermilk. As a result, we usually use the leftovers to make ranch dressing and to tenderize catfish.
Creamy Buttermilk Ranch
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- Juice of ½ of a small lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
There’s not much to this recipe. Just mix everything together and serve. As with most dressings, it’s better if you make it a day ahead and let the flavors meld in the refrigerator overnight.
I should point out that this makes a creamy, almost runny dressing. If you like the thicker stuff, then you’ll have to use less buttermilk and/or more mayonnaise. I treat ranch the same way I treat a vinaigrette; the dressing is there to complement the salad. Not the other way around.