You Eat It All The Time, But What Exactly IS Ranch Dressing?

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“With ranch” is the only way some will ingest their carrot sticks. The gloppy everything-edible-topper is a reliable staple at salad bars across the country. Certain palates claim it is the single addition that improves the taste of pizza.

It’s no wonder, then, that ranch is the most popular dressing shipped to foodservice outlets, as the NPD, a global information company, reports. The dressing is ubiquitous, but its taste is sort of hard to define. For starters, it’s tangy, sweet and creamy with a bite. The Hidden Valley Food Company credits itself with patenting ranch, but you don’t have to buy a bottle to experience the flavor. So what exactly is it?

Simply, ranch is a mix of all things milky. Its ingredients include buttermilk, sour cream and mayonnaise. Along with the dairy, some garlic and a mix of herbs and spices — predominantly dill and chives — is added to the mix. (Real buttermilk, by the way, is made from the liquid leftover from the butter-churning process.)

We think this Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing recipe is the only one you’ll really ever need.

ranch dressing recipe

Its consistency is 5-star, it has a bit of kick, and it eradicates all of the two-sweet, too-thick risks that the store-bought versions pose. Even so, we’ve taste tested several bottled varieties in case you don’t have time for butter churning:

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