Buttermilk Garlic Ranch Salad Dressing ♥

Buttermilk Garlic Ranch Salad Dressing, another healthy homemade dressing ♥ AVeggieVenture.com.

My Substitute for Store-Bought Ranch Dressing

For anyone who likes ranch dressing, this is my homemade substitute. It's an easy DIY salad dressing made from scratch in a blender or food processor with on-hand pantry ingredients. It's light and creamy, it's zesty and naturally fresh. No wonder other cooks love it too! And oh, people, this dressing just makes salads sing! If you make it slightly thicker for a dip or sauce for raw veggies, you might just keep dipping and dipping!

Real Food, Fast & Casual. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Little Effort, Big Taste. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Easy Meal Prep. Low Carb. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegetarian. Naturally Gluten Free. Rave Reviews.

On a Mission

Since throwing down the challenge to Never Buy Salad Dressing Again, call me eagle-eyed for easy make-ahead salad dressings to replace bottled dressings from the supermarket.

This Buttermilk Garlic Salad Dressing recipe is so versatile, great for dressing lettuce and salad greens and also as dip for raw vegetables. I can also see using it for a homemade coleslaw dressing or as the mayonnaise for tuna salad and egg salad.

Plus, the dressing works beautifully in at least two classic summer salads – check the recipes for Classic Seven-Layer Salad (hello, potlucks!) and classic Cobb salad (a wonderful summer dinner).

Mission Accomplished

So yes, mission accomplished: this is a really good homemade salad dressing, one that's easy to make ahead with just a few simple ingredients and useful in many ways.

A much-appreciated side benefit is that this dressing is also really low in calories even though it's full of flavor and is made entirely from whole ingredients, no chemicals, no faux-foods.

And Readers Love It Too!

"Oh, yum! This is incredibly good!" ~ T
"Really good dressing!" ~ BellePlaine
"Wonderful recipe. The paprika is awesome! " ~ Mama Lynn
"Tried it and it tastes great; the house smells good too!" ~ Ron
"So delicious, I could eat it with a spoon!!" ~ Pam
... it is amazing! ... VERY Good. ~ JennyBell

About This Recipe

This is a homemade salad dressing that stands on its own but also as a substitute for ranch dressing for salads and a ranch dip for fresh vegetables. It's made in a blender or food processor with a handful of common ingredients.
Dairy products (sour cream and buttermilk) and mayo make up the most volume but taste-wise, the distinctive ingredients are garlic and the smoked Spanish paprika called pimentòn. Back in 2008 when I first published this recipe, pimentòn wasn't always easy to find. Now it's quite common. If all else fails, Trader Joe's carries what they call "smoked paprika" and of course it's easy to order spices online from spice companies like Penzey's.
Ingredient List = sour cream + mayonnaise + buttermilk + garlic + sugar + dry mustard powder + that pimentòn + salt & pepper
It takes about 10 minutes to mix a batch of dressing in a blender or food processor. I do recommend allowing 2 to 24 hours time in the fridge for the flavors to meld and the dressing to thicken a bit. Since it keeps for up to a couple of weeks, you'll have plenty of time to use it all up.
By design, the dressing is thinner than store-bought salad dressings which I find way-way-way too thick and gloppy. If you like a thicker dressing, just use less buttermilk. Do know, the dressing thickens in the fridge. If you check the photo, you can tell I snapped the picture just after making it, before it was refrigerated so it was a little thin, too thin, really. A day later? Perfect.
This recipe makes about 1-2/3 cups. Good news, it fits into a squeeze bottle!
I love this dressing so much, I've turned it into a household staple, extra-easy to adapt so rarely the same twice. See the Master Recipe, My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing. But it all started right here!

Ingredients to Make Buttermilk Garlic Ranch Salad Dressing & Dip

Like all my recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

FOR CREAMINESS Sour cream adds creaminess and thickens the consistency of the dressing. Both full-fat and low-fat sour cream work well but at least to my taste, definitely avoid non-fat sour cream. A good substitute for sour cream is Greek yogurt, full-fat and non-fat both. This is a frequent choice for those who follow Weight Watchers since for some years, non-fat Greek yogurt is a "free" food. (FYI here's the most recent Weight Watchers Zero Point "Free" Food Lists, since late 2021 supplanted by Personalized Points where each person's free foods are individualized.)

FOR TEXTURE & A LITTLE ACIDITY Mayonnaise gives the dressing a salad dressing-style consistency, plus that small bit of mayo oomph that's actually a touch of acidity. Again, full-fat and low-fat mayo work equally well, use what you have on hand. Brand-wise, use what you like or have on hand. That said, we were long-time fans of Hellmann's but have made an enthusiastic conversion to Duke's. There's no real good substitute for mayonnaise, not without other doctoring.

FOR THINNING TO TASTE Buttermilk adds creaminess but its primary purpose is to thin the dressing to your own preference, probably thinner for salad dressing and thicker for a ranch dip.

FOR SLIGHT SWEETNESS The recipe includes a tablespoon of sugar, not much since it's divided among more than two dozen servings. Still, for people who avoid sugar, I leave it out all the time or when a slight bit of sweetness seems appropriate, use only a half teaspoon. If a little sugar gets people to eat more salads and vegetables, count me in.

FOR SEASONING Three ingredients flavor the dressing. The first is the all-important garlic but take care, more isn't always better. I've learned to use a small clove. After that, check your spice jars for dry mustard powder, it adds that small bite of mustard without adding moisture. Since the amount is so small, you could easily substitute a bit of prepared mustard, everything from ballpark yellow mustard up to pricey gourmet mustards. Then there's the all-important pimentòn that adds a touch of color plus an addictive smokiness. It's worth seeking out.

Here's What's NOT In This Recipe

Sometimes, what's left out of a recipe is just as important as what's put in. That's definitely the case here.

NO WEIRD INGREDIENTS You know, those chemical-sounding ingredients that salad dressing manufacturers use to stabilize, thicken and extend shelf life.
NO VINEGAR There's no vinegar per se, so if you're out, this is your recipe. But for balance, salad dressings do need a touch of acidity. Here that comes from the mayo, buttermilk and even the dry mustard.

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Buttermilk Garlic Ranch Salad Dressing, another healthy homemade dressing ♥ AVeggieVenture.com.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Makes 1-2/3 cups

1/2 cup (124g) low-fat sour cream
1/2 cup (119g) low-fat mayonnaise
1 cup (250g) low-fat buttermilk (use less for a ranch dip)
1 small garlic clove
1 tablespoon sugar, optional or use as little as 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon pimentón (pimentòn is a lovely smoky Spanish paprika, one of my very favorite spices)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Combine well in a blender or food processor. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, better yet 24 hours for the flavors to meld and the dressing to thicken.

The dressing keeps for a couple of weeks, just keep it refrigerated.

I've included the weights for the main ingredients because I like to assemble the ingredients right in the blender, no measuring cups required – by putting the blender on my kitchen scale (affiliate link).
The inspiring recipe called for only 1/4 cup of buttermilk. Using that volume, however, the dressing is quite gloppy – it might "spoon" on but certainly wouldn't pour. So I kept adding buttermilk until the dressing reached a good pouring consistency. This had the added benefit of lowering the calories, too, putting the dressing solidly into super-low points for Weight Watchers.

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A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. That looks like a great dressing recipe.

  2. It does sound good. I like the idea of smoked paprika in this!

  3. AnonymousJune 01, 2008

    Yummy - thanks for sharing!

  4. I like the touch of pimenton here -- takes this a step beyond any supermarket salad dressing.

  5. Oh, yum! This is incredibly good! Even Mr. Wonderful gave it the thumbs up (and he's a Thousand Island kinda guy).

    I think that my next batch will be a bit thicker, maybe 1/4 cup less buttermilk.

    I tried some of the dressing on chopped cabbage/slaw. The flavor is not strong enough to stand up to the cabbage; I ended up with (essentially) moist cabbage salad.

    I'm looking for opportunities to use this dressing - though it's not uncommon for me to just dip a spoon into the jar!

  6. Really good dressing! I made a salad nicoise and used this dressing. It worked wonderfully. Thanks!

  7. Wonderful recipe. The paprika is awesome! Made it this evening and drizzled it over a green salad, steamed cauliflower, corn-on-the-cob, and baked cod. It is so wonderful and so very yummy. Thank you.

  8. I love having a hit recipe! This is definitely one to keep around. MUST MAKE MORE!

  9. AnonymousJuly 08, 2008

    Tried it and it tastes great; the house smells good too! The consistency for salads is fine but I would prefer a little more body for dipping. Do you think cream cheese is the solution?

    Also, I could only find buttermilk in a half gallon. Any recipes with buttermilk? I think you mentioned it would last a couple of weeks, but I've already made a double batch of dressing and probably have enough.

  10. Buttermillk will keep a couple of months so you've got some time to use it up.

    To make it thicker for dipping, I'd just change the proportions, using more mayo. That changes the calories too but still, will be better for you even with SOME buttermilk.

    Here's another salad dressing with buttermilk -- it tastes quite.

    Or how about making cornbread cornbread?

    Also, if you search on buttermilk in the search box on the top of each page. You'll get lots of recipes. Or bookmark Food Blog Search, for recipes from a hand-selected group of food blogs.

  11. Ron,
    I made the dressing thicker using a mix of additional tablespoons of mayo and sour cream - oh so good for dipping veggies.

    On epicurious.com I found a recipe for blueberry scones which included buttermilk and meyer lemon zest (I used regular lemons). They were moist and wonderful. Rave reviews from family and friends on both the dressing and the scones!

  12. AnonymousJuly 08, 2008

    Well the dressing is just right today. I guess it needed to chill and doesn't have much body right out of the blender. Thanks (to everyone) for the leads!

  13. Made my third bath of this delicious dressing. Didn't use Hellman's and it just doesn't taste as fantastic.

    I'm sharing this recipe with everyone.

  14. Thanks so much for this recipe. I have made it multiple times now, with and without Pimenton. I live in low population area and found none here although on a recent trip to "the city" I found it without any difficulty. Wouldn't make it without it now. So delicious, I could eat it with a spoon!!

  15. I had no idea that I could make anything like store-bought ranch without the store. I haven't gotten the pimenton yet, but I will. Recipes are just suggestions to me, I wanted really thick with the flavor of the buttermilk, so I added lowfat cottage cheese. This has opened a whole new world of creamy dressings. Yogurt anyone?

  16. Made this today for my 7-layer salad, and it is amazing! I had to double the recipe, and didnt have enough ingredients, so i ended up substituting 1/2 milk & 1/2 heavy cream for the buttermilk. I also used 1/2 sour cream & 1/2 greek yogurt and mayo as normal. VERY Good.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna