Ranch is, arguably, the best salad dressing out there. It makes salad taste good – which to some is an impossible feat. You can use it as a dip for veggie trays, with chicken wings, or on sandwiches. Some people dunk fries, quesadillas, mozzarella sticks, and pizza in it. The options are endless. But, is it dairy free? Let’s discuss.
Does ranch have dairy?
The short answer is yes. Most ranch dressings contain buttermilk, which is a dairy product. Other recipes contain sour cream or yogurt, both of which are also dairy. All of these main ingredients provide the tanginess you find in ranch dressing.
A basic ranch dressing would include one of the dairy bases mentioned above, plus chives, dill, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. You’ll find that some recipes online mix in a few of the dairy bases, or add mayonnaise as well.
Don’t worry, there’s hope for folks who love ranch but can’t eat dairy. There are plenty of simple swap options to make ranch dairy free. We will go over the common, and not so common options that you have.
Easy Swaps to Make Ranch at Home
If you’re willing to spend a little time in the kitchen, you can make your own dairy free ranch. We like this simple recipe from Simply Whisked, which calls for both mayonnaise and sour cream. The ingredients you’ll need are:
1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ fresh chives (you can use dried, too)
¼ fresh parsley (dried works here, as well)
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp paprika
2 – 3 tbsp milk of choice
salt & pepper
Most mayo brands are dairy free, so you most likely already have something on hand that will work. To replace the sour cream, you can try a dairy free sour cream, like Tofutti or Kite Hill. Use it in the same measurement as the recipe calls for, just as you would regular sour cream. The last thing to swap is the milk – you can use whatever kind you like – Lactaid, almond milk, oat milk, etc. Just make sure that your milk alternative is unsweetened and plain (not vanilla flavored or sweetened – we have made that mistake before and it is not good.) At first glance, this recipe looks complicated because of the length of the ingredient list. However, you simply throw everything in a blender or food processor until it’s combined, and you’ll be eating tasty ranch in no time.
If you don’t have dairy free sour cream at home and you’re in a pinch, you can also use mayo as your base completely for this recipe. Just double the mayo and follow the recipe as it’s written. The result will be a bit more rich and saltier than usual, but still tasty!
Buy Dairy Free Ranch at the Store
Let’s say you want to skip the dishes and go right to the source. You can also purchase dairy free ranch at the store. There are several options to consider:
- Daiya – If you’ve tried dairy free cheese, you’ve probably tried Daiya. Although they aren’t gourmet by any means, they are available in virtually every grocery store and they have their own version of dairy free ranch. Though we find it a bit overly tangy, it does the trick.
- Tessamae’s – This option can be found at Target, among other stores, and has rave reviews. People say that it’s the “world’s best ranch” and “best ranch ever.” This ranch is dairy free, but does contain eggs – so if that’s a concern for you, this one won’t be right for you. It’s primarily made of sunflower oil, which, when whipped at high speed with eggs becomes creamy. This is actually basically how mayo is made, so this ranch is very similar to a mayo based ranch. It’s also organic and gluten free!
- Primal Kitchen – Primal Kitchen’s dairy free ranch is similar to Tessamae’s – it can be found at Target and is oil based. This option is avocado oil based and is free from soy and canola oil. It’s also keto and paleo friendly, as well as sugar free. But is it actually any good? If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to traditional ranch, then this option is great. If you want something that is the full fat and full flavor that you remember from the salad bar at the buffet (anyone else?) then this one isn’t for you.
- Yo Mama’s – Finally, we had to include Yo Mama’s because it is delicious and their brand name is awesome. This ranch is canola oil and egg based. It’s dairy free, sugar free, and gluten free. Rather than telling you how good it is, we’ll let this comment from their website speak for itself: “Love, love this product!! I gave up in trying to understand how this product is so low in sugar and still taste sooooo gooood. It makes me look forward to eating salads.”
Uncommon Ranch Recipes
It’s important to note that as you’re searching for dairy free ranch recipes, you’ll run into some oddities. Lots of people try to veganize or health-ify ranch. This can end up really delicious… or really weird. Here are a few options to be aware of:
Hemp Heart Ranch – One alternative to mimic the creamy aspect of ranch is hemp hearts. What are hemp hearts, you ask? They’re also referred to as seeds, as they are seeds from the hemp plant. They’re soft and full of healthy fats and plant-protein. Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen has a popular recipe for it, with over 50 reviews which gives it a 4.4 out of 5 star review. The recipe simply calls for hemp hearts and plant milk, plus all the herbs and spices you’d expect. In our experience, the hemp hearts can be kind of bitter, which cuts into the creaminess you expect from ranch. However, some commenters call this recipe “absolutely perfection” and “very good!” – so we’ll let you be the judge.
Cashew Ranch – Similar to hemp ranch, you will also see cashew ranch recipes in your search for dairy free ranch, like this one from Minimalist Baker. Cashews and non dairy milk are the main ingredients here, with all the spices we’ve discussed before. Interestingly, this recipe calls for a touch of sweetener, perhaps to cut down on the nutty flavor. While this is better than the hemp ranch in our book, it is still not quite ranch. However, if you’re on the hunt for an oil free ranch recipe, this one would be our recommendation.
There you have it! A complete guide on dairy free ranch. Whether you’re dairy free by choice or by necessity, you can still have ranch! With a few minor adjustments, we foresee many options for you to dress and dip your food with ranch. If you’re on a dressing kick, check out our blog post on caesar dressing here. Before you go, be sure to leave us a comment below if you’ve tried any of the products or recipes mentioned here. Let us know what’s worth the hype and what we should skip.