We Tried 15 Kinds of Ranch Dressing And This Is the Best
In 2018, The New York Times declared the United States a “Ranch Nation” in recognition of the salad dressing’s overwhelming predominance in American culinary culture. Although ranch only came about in the 1950s, it has since become the condiment we most use to dress, dip and devour our food.
Needless to say, food companies across the nation have eagerly stepped in to satisfy America’s ranch craving. There’s a plethora of options to taste and try. How many, you ask? Enough that we found more than a dozen varieties sold at one store in our quest to figure out which premade ranch is most worth your dollar. In total, we tried out 15 different types of ranch. And we’re pretty sure there’s probably a brand or two that have somehow eluded this taste test. Still, while this roundup may not be comprehensive, it should be enough to give you a place to start (assuming you don’t have a favorite variety already). So if ranch is always on your mind, and in your fridge, feel free to consult our list to find the best dip for your dime. Here are our rankings, from best to worst.
Hidden Valley Ranch ($5.39 for 24 oz)
Hidden Valley is a particular favorite among ranch lovers for a reason. The dressing has the perfect balance between tang and slight sweetness. For brand name, Hidden Valley is also fairly affordable; the bottle we picked up contained the most ranch of any variety we sampled. If you’re not already a Hidden Valley convert, then it’s worth giving this brand a try.
Kraft’s Classic Ranch ($2.79 for 16 oz)
Kraft has a bit more sweetness in its formula, but it essentially tastes like Hidden Valley. We know that’s probably a controversial statement for Hidden Valley lovers, but our tasters could barely tell the difference. Besides, while Hidden Valley isn’t exactly expensive, Kraft is notably cheaper. As long as you don’t have a particular brand allegiance, this ranch is a perfectly good pick.
Best Budget Ranch
Value Corner’s Ranch Dressing ($1.69 for 16 oz) and Signature Select’s Ranch Dressing ($1.99 for 16 oz)
Value Corner’s and Signature Select’s formulas are a bit thinner than Kraft and Hidden Valley. There’s also a slight decrease in flavor, but not enough to really make a fuss about.. If you can’t see yourself spending more than $2 for salad dressing, then these ranch varieties will do just fine.
Best Organic Ranch
O Organics’ Ranch Dressing ($4.29 for 12 oz)
For our organic pick, we chose this ranch because it tastes most like our top contender. The texture is a bit different, but the taste is fairly close to Hidden Valley. The price is a bit steep, but if organic is important to you, then you’ll certainly get sufficient ranch flavor from O Organics.
Best Refrigerated Ranch
LiteHouse’s Family Size Homestyle Ranch ($3.87 for 20 oz)
LiteHouse also tastes close to Hidden Valley, while again containing slightly less tang. You also get a similar quantity in LiteHouse bottles as you do when buying Hidden Valley. If you prefer refrigerated ranch to shelf-stable, then this might be your best option.
Most Unique Ranch
Olive Garden’s Parmesan Ranch Dressing ($4.99 for 16 oz)
Do you like Caesar salad dressing almost as much as you like ranch? Then you’ll love Olive Garden’s offering. The addition of parmesan to the dressing gives a good bit of richness to the ranch, without making it too salty. It’s not classic ranch, but it’s still delicious.
Best Dairy Free Ranch
Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Ranch ($7.49 for 9 oz)
At first taste, Sir Kensington’s ranch might seem a bit unusual. It has a deeper, more yellow color because of the avocado oil, for starters; that oil also has a distinct flavor that definitely comes through in the dressing. As long as you’re not opposed to that flavor profile, however, you’ll probably enjoy this variety. Still, Sir Kensington’s is a bit pricey, in part because its a specialty product; it’s a good alternative for lactose-intolerant consumers and others who avoid dairy products, although it does contain eggs. If you have a ranch lover in your life with dairy restrictions, you might have just found their new favorite dip.
Best Vegan Ranch
Mother Raw’s Organic Ranch ($3.98 for 8 oz) and Daiya’s Homestyle Ranch Dressing ($5.89 for 8.36 oz)
Vegan science has really advanced by leaps and bounds over the last decade or so, and these two vegan options are the proof. Daiya, a favorite brand among vegans for years, makes a delicious creamy ranch that would fool most consumers of animal products. And while Mother Raw’s ranch doesn’t reflect the usual, bright-white coloring of most commercial ranch dressings, it does taste curiously close to our top pick. It might even have slightly more vinegar flavor, which we loved. Mother Raw’s ranch also thickens incredibly, as long as you shake it up before using; we actually had to get it out with a knife. Granted, both of these options cost a few more bucks than their competitors, but if you’re looking for dairy and egg-free varieties, then you’ve got a couple of good options to choose from.
Not Our Favorites
Walden Farms’ Calorie Free Ranch Dressing ($5.69 for 12 oz), Newman’s Own Ranch ($4.59 for 15 oz), Ken’s Steak House’s Ranch Dressing ($4.29 16 oz), Marzetti’s Classic Ranch ($5.99 for 20 oz), and Wish Bone’s Ranch Dressing ($3.99 for 15 oz)
When you try out 15 brands of ranch, there’s bound to be at least a few duds. In this case, there were exactly five. Most of these (Ken’s Steak House, Marzetti and Wish Bone) were downvoted because they had flavor profiles that could be described as bland, at best. But there were two varieties that deserve particular note for their poor flavor. Newman’s, disappointingly, did not have much of the sharp flavor we associate with ranch; in fact, it was weirdly sweet tasting. Walden Farms was the worst offender. Yes, we realize it’s a calorie-free brand, and with calorie-free offerings, you can only do so much. If calorie-free dressing is what you’re looking for, then go ahead. But consider this: Water is also calorie-free. You might be better off filling a dressing bottle at the sink and using that as ranch rather than disrespecting your tongue with Walden Farms. Just trust us; it’s not worth it.