Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Did you know that ranch dressing is the number one most popular type of salad dressing sold in America? Overtaking even the omnipresent Italian.

According to Robb Walsh of the Houston Press Ranch likely got its start as buttermilk dressing, a cowboy favorite because buttermilk was widely available in the early part of the last century.

Ranch dressing is essentially a buttermilk mayonnaise dressing spiffed up with herbs. It was popularized by Clorox, when they figured out a way to make their Hidden Valley brand shelf stable. (According to Slate, the dressing is shelf stable to 150 days or about 5 months. A rather scary thought.)

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing is very easy to make, especially if you have leftover buttermilk from baking, or making pancakes or soda bread. The base is just buttermilk and mayonnaise. Everything else you essentially just add to taste — some dry mustard, salt and pepper, a little paprika, herbs like chives, onion greens, parsley and/or dill. Add some crumbled blue cheese, and you have a luscious blue cheese dressing.

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups


  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dry dill (or a teaspoon chopped fresh)


1 In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until fully mixed. Add in the other ingredients, adjusting for taste.

Keeps for a week, covered in the fridge.

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America's love-affair with ranch dressing - Slate article by Brendan I. Koerner

The Pizza and Ranch Dressing Rebellion - Houston Press article by Robb Walsh

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Showing 4 of 38 Comments

  • ap duffy

    Yum! I made double batch last night with handfuls of fresh herbs and it was out of this world, esp. after it sat in fridge a few hours. Put it over wedge salad with Great Hill Blue cheese, hard boiled egg, avocado and garden tomatoes. Saving the rest to try on your Corn Pasta Salad for the Labor Day Lobsterfest at the Brynnmere!!! Will let you know how it goes! Thanks Elise for another winner!!!

  • Carol Palermo

    I’m lactose intolerant, what can I substitute for buttermilk?

  • izomorfia3

    Excellent! I used it as a dip for empandas …

  • Kimberly

    This is great! I had just churned a bunch of butter from yesterday’s milking and googled buttermilk ranch. It’s delicious. I wish I had fresh parsley, but at least everything else was on hand. Thanks for sharing!

  • Christina

    We really enjoyed this recipe. Thanks!

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