Growing up, I didn’t much like going over to other kids’ houses for dinner. The broccoli was always overcooked to a green mush inspired by the Exorcist, and the ranch came from a plastic bottle. A plastic bottle, you guys. The kind you can stock up on in the event of apocalypse and eat on your de-canned green beans well into the rebirth of civilization. What in the world must be in that plastic bottle to make it such a survivor? I’ll tell you what.
Not fresh herbs. Not fresh buttermilk. Not fresh garlic, mashed to a paste with sea salt. Not mouthfuls of beautiful freshness and tanginess. That’s what.. not.
Now, my mother didn’t get crazy chopping fresh parsley and chives, but she did whip up a fresh batch of homemade ranch dressing each week using fresh buttermilk, a little packet of Hidden Valley dressing mix, and real, good mayonnaise, shaking it like a centrifuge (you thought I was going to say salt shaker! Or Polaroid! Or apparently a “red nose”, which is what Google says most people [who aren’t still living in the early 2000s] Google, though I had to put in a follow-up Google for “what is a ‘red nose'”) in a Hidden Valley-branded mixing bottle. The difference between this ‘semi-homemade’ stuff and the stuff they eat in the Walking Dead? Mindblowing.
However, I decided to take it to the next level a few years ago, using fresh parsley and other herbs, depending on what I had on hand. I smash garlic to a paste with the back of a fork, infusing the creamy, tangy dressing with a garlicky pungency that’s simply to-die-for. Better yet, it’s so simple, requiring only a little chopping and measuring, producing significantly “That was so worth it” results.
I often feel embarrassed ordering ranch dressing when I’m at a restaurant, especially higher-end joints, but this homemade ranch dressing recipe will smack the guilt right out of you. It’s so good, I just can’t describe it in any terms without italics. That good. That good.
I only used one tablespoon of chives, because that’s what I had on hand, thanks to my oddly resilient chive plant on my back porch. But if you have more, you can use more. If you have some fresh dill on hand, you can use that! The trio of fresh herbs I encourage in this dressing is parsley, chives, and dill, and you can mix and match them according to your culinary preference and general having-ness. My having-ness was low on dill, so I wrote this without it. But if you’ve got some, by Jove, throw it in! If you’re not that into garlic, don’t use so much. If you love spicy garlickiness, you can add more – we used 3 entire cloves in one little batch. But O and I are beyond worrying about if the other person has garlic breath, so it’s all fair game. First date? Pare it down just a little. Juuust a little. I guarantee there will be a second.. and third. And a wedding. So if you’re not really that into him, do not make this. He will be really into you.
I just had to use bold to get out of that italics rut.
Make this. Unless, of course, you’re not really that into him.
Homemade Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup real mayonnaise (Hellman’s is my favorite)
1/2 cup buttermilk, well-shaken (if you prefer a slightly thicker ranch, use a little less – add more to taste, if you prefer)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (add more if you like – we use 3!)
sea salt or kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
dash of white vinegar
garlic powder, optional
cayenne powder, optional
1. With the back of a fork, mash the minced garlic with a sprinkling of sea salt until it forms a paste. Combine all ingredients and whisk well. Taste and fix seasonings, adding more salt or pepper, white vinegar, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, etc., to taste.
2. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving to let the flavors meld.
Consistency is a highly personal thing, as is garlic content. Easily thicken or thin your ranch by using less or more buttermilk. Start with 1/4 cup if you prefer a thicker dressing. Add up to 3 cloves garlic, according to taste. We love garlic and use this much – but we can taste it for an hour afterwards! So worth it.
Cheryl Malik is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the healthy, flavorful, family friendly recipes at 40 Aprons. She’s been a blogger for 10+ years and is known for her delicious recipes and detailed recipe instructions. Cheryl is a mom of three who lives in Memphis, TN.