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Best Buttermilk Dressing Recipe

Best Buttermilk Dressing Recipe

It's better known as Ranch (which is a Hidden Valley trademark), but Buttermilk dressing is the original name of this American classic. And when you make it yourself, the freshness of the herbs and buttermilk really makes the whole thing sing (plus there's no MSG).

by Catherine Newman

What you'll need

  • 1 cup Hellman's or Best Foods mayonnaise, not low-fat
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon each finely chopped parsley, and freshly snipped chives, and dill (you could skip the parsley without any great loss of anything)
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 teaspoon each garlic and onion powder (optional, but very ranch-y tasting)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


For a different kind of dressing, skip all the seasoning except salt and sugar, use lemon juice in place of vinegar, and add grated lemon zest and lots of fresh herbs: marjoram and lemon thyme, say, or tarragon. Or try the mayo-buttermilk base with garlic and lime zest and juice along with cilantro, and you will end up with the perfect dressing for a Mexican-style salad with black beans, corn, tortilla chips, and grilled chicken.

How to make it

  1. Whisk together all the ingredients and serve as a dip or dressing. It keeps well for a few days or so, but after that it starts to taste like aging garlic: halve the recipe if you don't plan on using a ton of it right away.