Homemade Dry Ranch Dressing Mix + Dairy-Free Dressing Recipe

This recipe was requested last week by Tristi, so I postponed until next week the recipe I had planned for today. I love ranch dressing. It is my condiment of choice. It’s great for dipping fries, chicken, veggies, potatoes, roasted cauliflower, anything. I also just love a good wedge salad with some creamy, tangy ranch. I add it to my tacos instead of sour cream. I do NOT love MSG and all the chemicals that come in commercially prepared ranch dressing, and I am also dairy intolerant, which is why I make my own. Being dairy-free is rough, ya'll, but ranch dressing is one thing I don't have to live without, and that makes life a little better.

My first preference on all foods is fresh ingredients, but that is not always an option since I hate going to the grocery store. How often do I have fresh parsley in the fridge? Not often. So while there is an abundance of great FRESH ranch dressing recipes, I wanted one I could make anytime from my dried herbs, and fast. I tried just about every recipe I could find until I gave up and made my own. I don't just use it to make dressing. I use it to make dip for chips and veggie platters, in recipes like my buffalo chicken sliders, and anything else that calls for it.

Basic Ranch Dressing Mix Recipe

Combine everything and store in an airtight container. Makes a little more than 1 cup of dry mix. Always give it a good shake before getting some out. I keep mine in a pint-sized canning jar with a plastic storage lid. It's very practical and pretty at the same time.

And now my super secret ingredient that you need to add to either of the following recipes is…anchovy paste. Wait! Come back! I’m completely serious. Why? Because it provides the dressing with umami (pronounced oooo-mommy), which is a Japanese word that means “pleasant savory taste” or “delicious taste”. It is the fifth taste sense along with sweet, salty, bitter and sour. It isn’t really a definable or identifiable flavor the way the others are. It is that deep-down, satisfying, earthy, craveability factor some foods have. Mushrooms naturally have it, and so do a lot of packaged foods, thanks to MSG, which is the laboratory created version of it. Manufacturers add it for an addictability factor. It’s why you keep eating and eating packaged foods that don't taste that good and then licking your fingers to get every last particle of autolyzed yeast protein (MSG) off your fingers.

The lack of MSG is why some homemade copycat recipes lack that…something, that je ne sais quoi. Well, the missing quoi is MSG or umami, and you can have it back, naturally. A squirt of anchovy paste will do the trick. It won’t change the flavor, and you would never know it’s there, but it will change that satisfaction factor. It will go from “Good” to “Mmmmm” or from “Aaaaalmost” to “Dead on”. In a pint sized jar of dressing I might add a one inch squirt. In a pot of homemade spaghetti sauce, I add 3-4 inches. You can find it in little tubes in the canned tuna aisle, usually the top row. Once it’s open it needs to be refrigerated, and I keep it in the butter spot in my fridge so it doesn’t get lost.

Everyone likes things just a little different, and I like my ranch stronger, so I add a little more of the dry mix when I mix up a batch. You may prefer a milder version. So add some, and then keep adding to taste.

To make regular dressing, whisk together:

  • 1 T of mix (I actually use more, but this is a good starting place) 
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (yes, I really do buy it by the gallon) or lemon juice 
  • 1/2 to 1 inch anchovy paste
  • Slowly add milk or buttermilk until it reaches your preferred consistency. I like mine thicker.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to let the vinegar mellow. It will thicken in the fridge and you may want to add a little more milk at that point.

 

To make the dairy-free version whisk together:

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to let the vinegar mellow. It will thicken in the fridge and you may want to add a little more milk at that point.

 

Now, if you want to get crazy, I have some additional things I occasionally add. Sometimes I add in a little sugar for a sweet tangy kick. If you’ve ever had the amazing ranch dressing at Ted’s Montana Grill, you know what I’m talking about. My. Favorite. Ever. It is sweet, tangy and garlicky. So sometimes I add some extra garlic to my made up dressing. I mean fresh minced garlic. Nothing that comes out of a can or jar. I don’t add a lot. Maybe just half of a small clove. Remember that raw garlic will just get stronger the longer it sits, so ere on the side of not enough. Then I add about a tsp of sugar and keep tasting until I like it. Sometimes I just do the sugar and no garlic. It really just depends on how much dressing I made, so I can’t give you an exact amount.

If you want to go more Outback Steakhouse with your dressing, add 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper, 1/8 tsp paprika, a couple shakes of cayenne pepper, and 1/8 tsp garlic salt to about 1 1/2 c prepared dressing.

Do you make your own ranch? Don't forget to share below!