Basic, Bang Up Blue Cheese Dressing

By • August 22, 2013 • 7 Comments

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Author Notes: For the longest time, I thought I didn't like blue cheese dressing. I'd had too many disappointing versions, often served alongside Buffalo Wings. Those ones hit you in the face with an overpowering funk of cheese, and a consistency that could only be described as weirdly plastic. Then I was introduced to the Iceberg Wedge; the perfect balance of crunch, fat and cool, bold with a proper blue cheese dressing, and the recipe was forever redeemed.

Blue cheese dressing can, and should be, brash yet still refined. Gutsy with cheese, bright with vinegar, mollified with a hint of sweetness that’s bolstered by the richness of the mayonnaise and sour cream. It should have body without unnecessary weight.

I've said it elsewhere before, but I think it can be repeated: as silly as it sounds, blue cheese dressing is an art more than a science. There are variables to consider and balance, ones that can't be pinned down to hard and fast rules: the pungency and the moisture of the cheese, the astringency of the particular vinegar, the consistency of the sour cream and buttermilk. As such, the quantities here should be viewed only as guidelines to steer you in the right direction.

It is best to consider the intended use for the dressing when tweaking both the texture and seasoning. Also, I don’t recommend adding the hot sauce until use, if you're using it, or the dressing will turn pink. It’s not a tragedy, but not a look I’m fond of and, what’s more, letting the heat perforate the richness of the dressing keeps things especially interesting.

I’ve taken to making thicker blue cheese dressings to slather on grilled steak. As a condiment, the fat adds even more oomph to the meat, and the cheese has more than enough personality to stand up to some char. Made well, it’s undeniably good with crispy chicken wings, too. A moderately luxe version is just the thing for those beloved chunks of iceberg lettuce, and I make a light, velvety rendition to drape wedges of juicy peach, or to dress arugula tossed with fresh corn off the cob.
Tara O'Brady

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or thick yogurt
  • 1/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, scallions, or garlic scapes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Caynne-based hot sauce, dried red pepper flakes, or chili oil, to serve (optional)
  1. If you like a smooth dressing, grab a medium bowl and mash the blue cheese into the mayonnaise with the back of a fork. If a chunky dressing is preferred, keep the blue cheese aside and proceed to step 2.
  2. Mix the mayonnaise with the sour cream, most of the buttermilk, and all of the vinegar and honey.
  3. Add the chives to the bowl, along with the blue cheese, if making the chunkier style. Fold to combine, and season with pepper. Taste for seasoning, adding more buttermilk, vinegar, honey and pepper, as necessary.
  4. You can use the dressing right away but I think it's even nicer after a day in the fridge, which gives the flavors a chance to round out. The dressing will thicken as it sits, but can be thinned with a few drops of water. Serve with a dash of hot sauce. Keep any leftover dressing in an airtight container in the fridge, and use up in a few days.
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Comments (7) Questions (0)

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4 months ago Greg

You mentioned making versions of this recipe. When thickening it do you add less buttermilk, more sour cream/mayo? More cheese?

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4 months ago Tara O'Brady

Hello Greg! It depends on what I have on hand, and what I'm intending as the use. Most often, I just use less buttermilk. For something that I think can carry the richness (burgers fall into this category), I would go for extra sour cream or mayo. Hope that helps!

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4 months ago Greg

Thanks for the tip. Can't wait to give it a whirl.

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about 1 year ago catalinalacruz

Wonderful dressing! A dribble of agave nectar was substituted for the honey with great results. Thank you, Tara.

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over 1 year ago Nomnomnom

Any thoughts about how long this will keep refrigerated? One week, maybe? And do you suppose it would work with creme fraiche in place of the sour cream? I keep creme fraiche in the house but not sour cream normally. Thanks! This recipe looks great.

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over 1 year ago Tara O'Brady

Hello! I'm comfortable keeping it in the fridge for a week or so, but that's based only on personal experience. As for the crème fraîche, I'm sure it could be used, though you'll want to adjust the seasoning accordingly (since it is not as tangy as sour cream, you might need to up the vinegar). Please report back if you give it a try!

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6 months ago Gourmel

Ditto on the sour cream. Do you think greek yogurt would work?