What is the predominant flavor in ranch dressing?

Clearly there isn’t something called “Ranch” that’s used to flavor it, but I’m not familliar with anything else that has that “ranch” tang to it. Reading the label of the handy bottle in the fridge gives scant clues as to the composition. As far as I can tell, “ranch” is a packet of stuff that contains “spices” and “flavorings”.

Any idea as to which spices and flavorings make ranch dressing so…ranchy?


Really? Then why doesn’t a carton of buttermilk from the grocery store have the same qualities as a bottle of ranch dressing?

That, or a packet of powdered ranch dressing.
Recipes that don’t come from an pre-mix are all over the map, but they all contain buttermilk and mayonnaise.

I didn’t say it was the only flavor in ranch dressing. But the OP asked about the predominant ingredient, and buttermilk is responsible for the characteristic tang in ranch dressing. The original Hidden Valley Ranch dressing was mayonnaise, buttermilk, herbs and spices. The herbs and spices are nothing exotic, mostly salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic and parsley.

Buttermilk, mayo, vinegar, salt and some sort of allium - usually onion or chives. Anything else is pretty much green flakes for decoration.

FWIW, here’s a sample recipe for ranch dressing.

Based on the recipe from Saveur magazine a couple of months ago, Ranch dressing consists of the following ingredients:

Sour Cream
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder (roughly 1/2 the amount of the onion powder)
Chopped parsley

The recipe specifically forbade the use of fresh onion or garlic, saying that it wouldn’t taste right.

Personally, I think it’s the combination of the onions/garlic and buttermilk myself.

Try making Ranch dressing substituting something else for the buttermilk. It tastes like [deleted]… it doesn’t taste good.

I don’t keep buttermilk around the house typically, so I have always tried souring sweet milk with vinegar or lemon juice. This works fine, but buttermilk is probably a key part of “ranch”. Commercial varieties are mostly soybean oil, but then, so is mayonaise. What did Hellmans or Dukes use prior to soybean oil I wonder. Homemade salad dressings are an easy way to save money, since the commercial stuff is (good) but a little on the pricey side.

Some recipes may have vinegar, but it’s not necessary, nor common: The buttermilk is itself acidic enough.

I was going to guess ‘ground-up cowboys’, but I see this is GQ, so never mind.

Eh, I guess it depends on what you mean by “common”. Two of the five linked recipes in this thread have it. Both my bottles of premade ranch (SaladMate (Aldi) and Hidden Valley Ranch Fat Free) have it in their ingredient lists. Seems common enough to me.

I imagine that the FIRST step you just might need to take would be to actually learn how to make a decent ranch dressing (or at least know some of the ingredients that make it taste somewhat like it)

1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1 1/2 Tsp. Dried Dill Weed
1/2 Tsp Dried Parsley
1/2 Tsp Dried Chives
1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
1/3 Tsp Onion Powder
1/4 Tsp Fine Sea Salt
1/8 Tsp Finely Ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 to 2 Tsps Fresh Lemon Juice

Once some people can put on their “Big boy pants” and actually learn how to do something other than order a pizza…THEN you might be able to join a conversation about food…

Just sayin’

What an unfriendly and aggressive way to re-open a thirteen-year old thread.

Just sayin’.


Snipergnome, welcome to the boards. However, we prefer that old threads in General Questions only be re-opened to provide new factual information. The OP didn’t ask how to make ranch dressing, only the predominant flavor, and that information has already been provided. We also prefer that snark be kept out of this forum. For this reason, I am closing this thread. You are welcome to post here, but keep your posts civil.

General Questions Moderator