Basic, Bang Up Blue Cheese Dressing

August 22, 2013
7 Ratings
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

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Makes 1 1/2 cups
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or thick yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, shaken well
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, scallions, or garlic scapes
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 dash Caynne-based hot sauce, dried red pepper flakes, or chili oil, to serve (optional)
In This Recipe
  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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  • Tara O'Brady
    Tara O'Brady
Food writer and creator of the site Seven Spoons. Author of the bestselling cookbook of the same name (Ten Speed Press and Appetite by Random House). Food columnist for The Globe and Mail.