Published on August 18th, 2011 | by Rachel Fox, RD


Is Ranch Dressing That Bad? Healthy Ranch Recipe

ranch dressing bookWhat is in commercial ranch dressing anyway? And if you try to make it at home, can it be healthy?

What Ingredients are in Commercial Ranch Dressing?

This simple condiment typically has half real food ingredients, half fillers and stabilizers. I checked out one label and the real food ingredients included: soybean oil, water, vinegar, sugar, egg yolks, salt, buttermilk, garlic juice, and dried parsley. The fillers and flavors included: sodium lactate, whey, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum, citric acid, polysorbate 60, spice, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, natural flavor, artificial flavor, vitamin E, and natamycin. Wow. Nine real food ingredients, thirteen others. Does that really fit on the back of a dressing label? Or the better question, does that all fit inside the ranch bottle, and still taste like ranch?

How Nutritious is Commercial Ranch?

The above ranch dressing is a popular brand, and most of the other brands I looked at had similar ingredients. Of the nine real ingredients, none are particularly healthy. The vinegar, water garlic juice and dried parsley are nice additions to this condiment. The soybean oil, egg yolks, salt and buttermilk add extra fat, and are not very heart healthy. The sugar seems unnecessary, but here we go again with sugar in America. One tablespoon of this has 15 grams of fat and 0 grams of protein.

Can Ranch be Created at Home?

A healthier version of ranch dressing can be created at home if you change the base of the product. I like to use plain non-fat yogurt. It has the sour cream feel to it, but it adds healthy protein and carbohydrates without the extra fat. Find a brand that has only milk and yogurt cultures. Some brands these days have fillers even with the plain non-fat varieties. For every one and a half cups of yogurt, add about 1 tablespoon of dried herbs and spices. Here are the ingredients to play around with:

  • dill
  • parsley
  • chives
  • garlic
  • onion
  • pepper

Fresh herbs and spices can be used as well, but the ranch will not last as long. You will have to increase the amount of fresh ingredients to at least double the amount (2+ tablespoons per 1 1/2 cup yogurt.)  Greek yogurt can be used in place of regular yogurt for added protein. Remember, Greek yogurt is thicker and the end product will be more like a veggie dip than a salad dressing.

Does anyone have their own favorite scratch ranch recipe??

Image credit to creative commons user simplerich

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About the Author

Rachel is a Registered Dietitian and food and nutrition enthusiast from southeast Michigan. She has her Bachelor's in Dietetics from Central Michigan University and completed her dietetic internship at Michigan State University. Rachel aspires to get a Master's of Public Health in the near future. Her passions include cooking, baking, and even grocery shopping. She supports local food, slow food, and good food! Rachel's spare time is devoted to attending local concerts and festivals, reading and playing tennis.

3 Responses to Is Ranch Dressing That Bad? Healthy Ranch Recipe

  1. Ooh this sounds good, and so easy to veganize!

  2. Pingback: 7 Ways to Enjoy Bell Peppers – Eat Drink Better

  3. Pesto says:

    I already made this at home this week – delicious and it was so great in the midst of the summer. Thanks!

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