What On Earth Is 'Ranch Dressing'?

Yeah, it’s called Ranch Dressing. And where I live at least (SE Michigan), it’s sometimes called House Dressing for some unknown reason.

What is it?

I mean, we all know how to make your own Thousand Island dressing. Mayonnaise, Ketchup (or Chili Sauce) and Pickle Relish. No? How could I make my own Ranch Dressing? As as long as we’re on the subject, what are those little black specks in it? Weird!

Oh, and I guess I can tell you all, I found the master base for any sauce or dressing. One part Mayonnaise to one part Sour Cream. (One book says dilute it with skim milk if it is too thick. Warning: now I have to tell you, I never tried this.)

And apologies to British, Canadian, etc. dopers who have no idea what these food items are. You should catch on shortly :wink: .


There are a ton of variations, but most recipes seem to include:

  • Buttermilk
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sour cream
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic
  • Pepper

And, the name comes from Hidden Valley Ranch, a dude ranch in California where it was first popularized.

We did a thread on this fairly recently.

You buy that little packet and follow the instructions. :grin:

This should probably go in the “Obvious things you never knew” thread, but I had no idea Hidden Valley Ranch was a real place! I thought it was just marketing but you’re exactly right.

Newman’s Own Ranch dressing is the best bottled that I’ve found.

100% of net profits and royalties goes to charity.

A double win.:partying_face:

I can’t stand Ranch dressing, but mix it with some BBQ sauce and it becomes something wonderful.


The part of that article about the 5 liter keg of ranch dressing just made me think of this:

As I understand it, a restaurant’s “house dressing” is just their own featured salad dressing, often made specially by or for that restaurant. Different restaurants have different house dressings.

Are you saying that, in your neck of the woods, most restaurants’ house dresisng (in this sense) is a ranch dressing (as opposed to some other variety)? Or that, in your neck of the woods, “house dressing” is a synonym for “ranch dressing,” so that people say “house” when they mean “ranch”?

Carl’s Junior, Jack in the Box, Sizzler, and other chains call their Ranch Dressing “House Dressing” for some unspecified reason.

I didn’t know this either. Before today, all I knew about ranch dressing was that it’s the favorite condiment of internet celebrity (and former Doper) Springs1.

Um … you are aware that Canadians know what ranch dressing, Thousand Island dressing, mayonnaise, ketchup, chili sauce, skim milk, and and sour cream are? All are available at my local supermarket, though my grandmother made a better chili sauce than Heinz does.

Ranch is a great dip, I find, for raw veggies–carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and even radishes. Thousand Island dressing is a bit too thick for my liking on a green salad, but ketchup and chili sauce go great with meatloaf. Mayo belongs on a BLT, while Miracle Whip goes well on veggie sandwiches (cucumber, tomato, radish). Skim milk is bleh, and sour cream belongs with nachos, to temper the heat of the jalapenos. Heck, “sour cream and onion” has been a popular potato chip flavour here in Canada, since forever.

Where did you get the idea that Canadians don’t know the above food items?

Being from SE Michigan myself, I’ve never heard “House dressing” as synonymous for Ranch. A lot of restaurants that I’ve eaten at in the Metro Detroit area have a House dressing that’s a vinaigrette, especially Italian restaurants where their house dressing is (naturally) an Italian dressing. And Arabic restaurants (which are very commonplace in SE Michigan) never have a house dressing that’s Ranch. And then there’s Coney Island restaurants (another common in the area), which typically have a Greek dressing as their house dressing.

I’ve lived in five different states, and I’m genuinely surprised to learn that “house dressing” doesn’t always mean “some kind of vinaigrette.” I guess I shouldn’t have assumed that, but I’ve never seen anything to the contrary.

Evidently it’s true. Asuka mentioned Carl’s Jr.—I just checked their website, and what they call “House” is clearly ranch dressing.

Mind blown.