Salad Dressing

3 Tangy, Yogurt-y Twists on Classic Ranch

Perfect for drizzling on...everything.

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November  3, 2018

We're partnering with Real California Milk to give everybody's favorite dressing—ranch—a bright, punchy twist with yogurt made from Real California Milk and fresh herbs.


To know ranch dressing is to love ranch dressing. From dunking veggies and chips in it to drizzling it over pizza (and yes, salad), it's no secret that ranch is America's favorite flavor combination—and pretty much always has been.

Photo by Julia Gartland

According to the NYT, it was invented in the 1950s by Steve Henson, a Nebraskan plumber who, along with his wife, bought a rundown ranch in Santa Barbara, California that they renamed Hidden Valley. Ring a bell? Customers began flocking to the ranch's steakhouse to take home jars of Steve's famous dressing (then, it was a blend of dried ingredients you could mix with buttermilk and mayonnaise at home) and the rest, as they say, is history.

In the '70s and '80s, ranch dressing's popularity quickly spread throughout the entire state of California, where Food52's resident Genius Kristen Miglore grew up. Having spent her childhood in East Los Angeles and teenage years in Sacramento, Kristen noticed that ranch dressing was everywhere.

From packing little containers of ranch along with sliced red bell peppers in her lunchbox in the '90s to dunking breadsticks in the stuff at her favorite pizza place in high school, Kristen couldn't get enough ranch. But it wasn't until she left California that the dressing became a source of hometown pride: "When I did find out it had been invented in California, and had just kind of exploded into this worldwide, beloved phenomenon, it did become a point of pride, especially when I moved to New York," she says.

Fast-forward to 2018 and Kristen is no less obsessed with the ranch. Only today, she likes to tweak the original recipe by swapping in a few new ingredients, starting with yogurt. In Kristen's take on classic ranch, tangy plain yogurt steps in to replace the mayonnaise as the base of the dressing for a lighter, silkier texture. And instead of a dried seasoning packet, she adds freshly chopped herbs and alliums—shallots, basil, chives, parsley, garlic—that can stand up to the tanginess of the yogurt, while bringing their own bright and zippy flavors.

After that, all that's left to do is combine everything in a jar (including a splash of buttermilk, white wine vinegar, and a drop of honey for sweetness) and shake it all up. Serve it alongside your favorite vegetables or crackers for a quick and easy snack, or fancy it up for a party by arranging said veggies on a platter and calling them crudités.

These yogurt ranch variations—classic, Sriracha, and miso—make a nice light snack or party appetizer when paired with colorful crudité. Photo by Julia Gartland

But why stop at classic yogurt ranch, when the dressing plays nice with other flavors, too? Depending on what you're craving—spicy, umami, sweet, smoky—you can easily riff on the original recipe. If you don't want to commit to just one type of ranch, Kristen recommends making a big batch of the classic version and then using that as your base for different variations throughout the week. You can also experiment with what's in your spice cabinet; here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • If you're in the mood for a dressing with a little bit of heat, simply add a tablespoon (or more, if you like it really spicy) of Sriracha.
  • If you're crazy about umami, add in a tablespoon of miso; this combination is killer on a salad or drizzled over a rice bowl. Because miso is a slightly thicker paste, slurry it up with a tiny bit of dressing before incorporating with the entire jar.
  • If you love smoky flavors, add a few dashes of smoked paprika into the mix.
  • Try mixing things up with different herbs, like mint or tarragon, and slathering the dressing on grilled meats or fish.

From Sriracha to miso, when it comes to this yogurt ranch dressing, the possibilities are endless! In partnership with Real California Milk, representing exceptional dairy products made with 100% milk from California dairy families, we're excited to share more delicious ways to lighten up your snacking routine.

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1 Comment

FrugalCat November 3, 2018
I grew up in the 80's and never had ranch. (WHAT?!) My mom doesn't like it, so she never bought it and I wasn't exposed to it until... I was about 15 or 16, I was babysitting, and the mom was showing me what to give the kids for dinner. "They will eat broccoli if you dip it in ranch dressing." So the kids were munching away and I tried a broccoli floret dipped in ranch and my mind was blown. I got home from babysitting and told my mom about this new, exotic delicacy. I insisted that we get this magic sauce for our home use. She grudgingly bought it, but wouldn't touch it and insisted on using Paul Newman's salad dressing for family dinner. <br />Thirty years later, I still love ranch and she still won't eat it.