This small batch recipe is endlessly versatile, fresher tasting than store-bought, and ideal for all those times you don’t need a whole bottle. (Although it’s so good you may end up doubling it!)
When I buy a bottle of ranch dressing, much of it inevitably goes to waste. So I don’t often buy it…and then, of course, I don’t have any on hand when it could add a little something special to a meal I’m preparing.
While I have a homemade recipe for a bigger batch, it can feel fussy—and sometimes I just need a little bit. Quickly.
The following small batch ranch dressing is my answer to those little dilemmas. The recipe mixes up in a flash with everyday ingredients. There’s also flexibility based on what you have on hand and whether you’d prefer a dressing or dip-like consistency.
Fresh herbs will create the most memorable flavor, but in a pinch, dried may be used. I love one teaspoon each of fresh dill, chives, and parsley, which is easy to come by when our herb garden is thriving. Other times of year, I fudge it with whatever fresh herb I may have on hand and supplement with dried herbs.
A good rule when swapping dried herbs for fresh herbs is to use one-third the amount of fresh herbs called for in the recipe. So, 1 tablespoon fresh herbs = 1 teaspoon dried herbs.
Some herbs season better than others in their dried form – dill, thyme, and marjoram are among them. Others are better used when fresh. Parsley, for example, loses much of its fresh flavor when dried. Basil’s flavor fades too, and this herb can even take on a minty flavor.
Yogurt or Buttermilk:
Both work well. Greek yogurt will create a thicker dip-like consistency, while buttermilk yields a somewhat thinner dressing. If you only have yogurt and prefer a pourable dressing, you may thin it with some regular milk–or a touch of water and an extra sprinkle of seasonings in a pinch.
You can also make sour milk if you have neither yogurt or buttermilk on hand. Simply add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a one cup liquid measure and then fill with milk to the one cup line. Let the mixture sit for five minutes before using. You may scale up or down based on amount needed.
Full Fat, 2%, or Nonfat?
I prefer full fat Greek yogurt or buttermilk (or sour milk as needed), although 2% is a worthy substitute. Because there are so few ingredients, the flavor of each ingredient is apparent–and a little fat will enhance the creamy texture and mellow the flavor.
On that note, a small but interesting study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research revealed that the fat in salad dressing directly impacts the amount of nutrients our bodies absorb from the salad itself. Emily Russo, MS, RD, CDN added that this applies to fat-soluble vitamins, like the vitamin A in carrots. Fat also helps improve satiety.
If nonfat Greek yogurt is all you have on hand, you may certainly give it a try. In this case, you could add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to balance its sharper flavor.
Ways to Use the Ranch Dressing:
While you may make it for a quick tossed salad, you’ll soon realize that it makes a stellar dip for Sweet Potato Fries. Or Loaded Cauliflower Bites or Pasta Salad. A Perfectly Baked Potato becomes a family friendly meal when stuffed with steamed or roasted broccoli, a drizzle of ranch dressing, and a sprinkle of crisp bacon.
My husband loves to dip his Crispy Buffalo Wings into this dressing, and a turkey sandwich will be suddenly elevated thanks to this herby dip. As will a burger, whether a Tender, Juicy Turkey Burger, a Sweet Potato & Black Bean Veggie Burger, or the classic beef burger.
Of course, we can’t forget how well carrots, celery, cucumbers, and all sorts of veggie dippers take to Ranch dressing.
Kids may enjoy any variety of foods dipped into or drizzled with this perennial favorite. And if you stir in a little barbecue sauce or salsa, this ranch dressing makes an especially delicious dressing for a Tex-Mex Salad or Taco Salad.
Suffice it to say that this is the type of recipe that will cover a multitude of dressing and dipping bases. Once you’ve tasted, you may find yourself incorporating a spoonful in unexpected recipes, like meatballs, meatloaf, a pot of plain rice, or a chicken and rice casserole.
The small batch is ideal whenever you need just a little bit. However, if you could use a bigger batch or would simply like to have some on hand, by all means double, triple, or quadruple the recipe. Happily, it takes five short minutes to make.