Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The hunt for good ranch dressing

I'm trying to find a good ranch dressing, and I'm not having much luck. I don't care for Hidden Valley or Kraft and I have a bottle of Ken's at home that I haven't tried yet. I love the ranch dressing at Jason's Deli, but I think they make it themselves, and apparently there is some kind of secret ingredient. I thought about just buying sour cream and mixing it with Ranch seasoning...does anyone have any other suggestions?

I know this probably seems like a weird question, but to me, all the store bottles of Ranch dressing have a weird taste to them or something...any help would be appreciated!

picture by trystyro - flickr.com

39 comments:

  1. I use Hidden Valley, and I agree...it just isn't "true" Ranch to me. Whenever I mix sour cream with the Ranch powder mix, it's usually really thick. Because of the thickness, I use it mainly as a dip. I'm sure it could be dilute with water...or something else that I can't think of off the top of my head :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks RWP! How can I look at your blog? Do I need to email you for permission?

    ReplyDelete
  3. My very favorite is "Marie's Ranch Dressing" in a big glass jar. She also makes a great Blue Cheese as well!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ranch in a bottle is definitely not the same as homemade ranch. The BEST ranch that is easy is to buy the hidden valley packets and mix your own dressing with sour cream and mayo. I am sure Jason's Deli does something similar to this which is why it tastes so much better. The good news is that you can whip up a batch and it will last a long time!

    ReplyDelete
  5. you completely read my mind! i literally wandered between the salad dressing aisle and the vegetable section in the grocery for like a half an hour trying to find a ranch dressing that didn't taste like it had battery acid in it (i'm not a fan of tart ranch... gimme creamy and good!) oh please tell me if you find something acceptable! is jason's deli local to you? if so, i may need to place an order with you...

    ReplyDelete
  6. That is a tough question & I agree with the other girls - buy the powdered mix & put it in sour cream & mayo! It really is the best. Although, it always seems to taste better when it's not at home!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I will be honest-I am a Fat Free Hidden Valley girl. It's not great though. But O'Charley's is the best! The sell it over in the refridgerated area. Ours is sold near the fruit!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am with you! Restaurant ranch is so much better than any other ranch. I think it's best to user to Hidden Valley packet...my mother in law makes ranch like that, and it's the one thing she makes that I like!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hidden Valley Ranch packet...1 cup of mayo and 1 cup of milk...whisk and put in fridge for an hour or so...i usually add some Tony's and Tobasco to make it a little spicier...

    ReplyDelete
  10. thank you all for your help! i tried the hidden valley packet last night, and while it was better, it still had that funny after taste. i'm intrigued by the "marie's ranch dressing" suggestion. i will have to look for that next time i'm grocery shopping. thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am pretty sure that restaurant ranch does not exist outside of restaurants. I have been on this search for years! I finally today decided that my search needs to end. I am going to find some damn good ranch if it kills me. Which led me to your page. I tried to trick myself last night and bought Kens...Horrible...Again. I have eaten at so many places, tasted their ranch, asked what kind it was, and 80% of the time they say Kens. Kens from the grocery store tastes like crap. How do these companies not realize that their bottled ranch is so nasty? Is there anyone taste testing this stuff?
    I am going to try making it tonight with the packet of dry seasoning mix...and I hope it works. I will post back my findings tomorrow. Or I am going to raid a restaurant of their ranch by smuggling it out one portion at a time.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree with Nantucket Karen. Marie's really is yummy. It is in the cold section by the fruits and vegetables. It does expire quick so use it fast. It is a little thick, but just rub it around your salad and it will be great.

    Love the Blog :)
    Sarah T.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Naturally Fresh Lite Ranch is the only store bought ranch I'll eat. It's in the refrigerated section and utterly divine!

    ReplyDelete
  14. okay my husband worked at this bar/restaurant during college for years and they had the best ranch dressing ever!! he makes it sometimes (I dont like to watch him bc I know its probably so fattening) ... I will email him for the recipe now and get back to you. I know it involves buttermilk. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I hate all ranch in the stores too. I always buy new bottles hoping that a different brand will taste better and they always go to waste. I am pretty fussy about retaurant ranch too. Applebee's is gross I think and most restaurants have the same taste. We have a place here called The Captain Loomis and their ranch is really really good. I did try out the Hidden Valley Ranch powder and make it myself, my friend said it was great, but it really wasn't that much better. The only solution I've come to as far as finding good ranch is to just go to the restaurant that makes the good ranch and ask to buy a big thing of it. I went to the restaurant here and asked them if I could just buy a large container of their ranch, and although they thought it was kinda strange they brought me out a huge container of it and I think it only cost $11! The container was huge, huge, huge...Like one of those mega sized mayonaise containers you can buy from Sam's Club. The restaurant made it themselves and although I can't get the recipe off of them, I can buy bulk ranch! Try it out! Doing it that way was definately cheaper than buying that many bottles of ranch from the store too! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have been on a quest to find a good store bought Ranch dressing as well.. After 10 years, I have concluded that it just does not exist. Homemade with butter milk is the key to good ranch dressing- Sorry no easyway out here!

    ReplyDelete
  17. The Cheesecake Factory has pretty good restaurant ranch and they sell it so if you are lucky to enough to have one in your area, you can always go and buy it there. It comes in one of those old jam jar kind of things so you dont have a big vat of it sitting in your fridge. I have tried every type of ranch my local grocery stores sell, even the expensive ones in the refrigerator sections, and nothing comes close to acceptable. Most of the restaurant ranches are made with buttermilk. I have yet to try it because I hate being in the kitchen, but I have been told to try adding buttermilk to the dry powder mix with the sour cream. Apparently it comes pretty close and makes it more runny, but I dont have the exact amount to put in.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Naturally Fresh is great

    ReplyDelete
  19. did A Bell and her Beau ever get back to you with that restaurant recipe? :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hidden Valley invented ranch dressing, so it's pretty much the real thing. It's meant to be mixed with mayonnaise and milk.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have worked in a few restaurants over the years and they all make their ranch the exact same way. People LOVE it and always come back for more and I have to admit it is very good. The recipe is unbelievably simple though. They ALL use the Hidden Vally packets and mix it with Turner buttermilk and mayo (not sour cream). Here is the catch that makes it so good though. The secret is in the mayo. Have you ever gotten a sandwich somewhere like, let's say, Subway, and noticed how good their mayonnaise tasted. It really doesn't taste like any other mayonnaise out there does it? That's because it's the restaurant grade Sysco brand mayo. It comes in a huge tub and doesn't have that tart taste of traditional store-bought mayo, like Kraft or Hellman's. Problem is, they only sell directly to restaurants so if you could get someone you know in the restaurant biz to order you a container of that mayo, you would love it. The only issue of course would be storing that big thing. Sysco makes all kinds of good stuff you eat in restaurants every day. The only thing I have found on the shelf that has the similar non-tangy taste is the light mayo.

    ReplyDelete
  22. our area has a restraunt supply store called cash and carry. you can buy the big huge restraunt ranch dressings premade. they have a few brands. good luck in your area

    ReplyDelete
  23. There are alot of restaurant with great ranch, usually better than any store bought. Red Robin for instance has great ranch, post your best ranch restaurants to http://bestranch.tumblr.com so we can all find the best ranch around the country and not waste our time with the bad!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Newman's Ranch !!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Mom and pops burger stands southern california have good ranch they use rods butter milk ranch dressing in a mini barrel.

    ReplyDelete
  26. The key is Hidden Valley ranch packet, mayonnaise, and BUTTERMILK, not regular milk.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hidden Valley Ranch packet, add 1 1/4 cups buttermilk and 3/4 cup REAL mayonnaise. Stir and let sit for a bit. If it needs tweaking try adding a dash of garlic powder or dill weed. Delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  28. The lady said that she isn't a fan of hidden valley yet everyone keeps telling her hidden valley ranch mix! It's pretty much the same. No one has better ranch/house dressing then The Cheesecake Factory. However, they apparently bribe their employees to never let the secret out because it is no where online. I do know that it dose not have HVR mix in it and it is completely from scratch. You can buy it but it's 6 bucks and only last a few days because it has no preservatives. It's also has a bite to it and it's so good. Too bad I don't have a TCF near.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Chili's will sell their dressings, too. I don't think they have a set price. Once I paid 1.80 for 16 oz. The next time is was 3.00!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I use a package called Uncle Dans. The trick though is that i dont use buttermilk just one cup mayo generic is fine and one cup sour cream. It is very good the first day but even better if it sits in the fridge over night.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I have been looking for ranch for the longest time. Usually I go to wing stop and buy a pint from them. Since I am sure its packed with preservatives... it lasts a while so thats pretty good and it costs about 3 bucks. My mom always uses hidden valley powder, but I agree that it doesn't taste the same as restaurants. So what I would do is find a local wing place and buy it from them, they should sell theirs. Or, as a college student, I find myself going to chick-fil-a and taking the free packets :) free and delicious! but I bet if you found a mom and pop place they would sell you some for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I am a major Ranch Snob, and for me, I have to go with Rod's Buttermilk Ranch. It's difficult to find and usually only available from large food distributors. Good luck! It's worth hunting down!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where do you find rod's? A local restaurant uses it and my husband wants it. We only found it in a case of 60 1-gallon containers.

      Delete
  33. I too am in search for the "homemade" ranch dressing! I came across this that I will be trying. Search "How to make ranch dressing" by user Pastryparrot1 on YouTube. It looks simple enough!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Ranch packet, buttermilk and mayonaise

    ReplyDelete
  35. What a great topic - THE ULTIMATE RANCH DRESSING! I too, am a critic of a fabulous ranch and that means no vinegar/acidic taste to it. I agree that the epic Ranch Dressing requires buttermilk. Of course it should be noted that frequent indulgences of this treat may cause future dependency on statin meds!
    My personal faves (so far): HIDDEN VALLEY BUTTERMILK RANCH in the packet, ROD'S BUTTERMILK RANCH and finally as well as more accessible, KEN'S BUTTERMILK RANCH in a bottle on the shelf at most grocers. I was surprisingly impressed! :-]

    ReplyDelete
  36. I know exactly what you mean!!! I don't like hidden valley, I want creamy restaurant style ranch... I used to buy a brand called Naturally Fresh ranch when I was living in Florida. It was very goooooood! I can't find it here in Portland. I might try to order it inline.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I, too, have been trying to duplicate the Jason's Deli ranch (they started in Beaumont, but they're a national chain now, BTW). I could drink that stuff it's so good. I finally just talked to the guy that makes the dressing every morning. It comes in a packet from headquarters marked "Jason's Deli Ranch Dressing Mix". He said it's very much like the HVR dry packet mix. At the restaurant, they add mayonnaise, buttermilk, white pepper, garlic powder, and parsley.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Lighthouse brand ranch dressing is very good...

    ReplyDelete