Ranch dressing

by Celia Brooks

America's favourite salad dressing

Ranch dressing is the best-selling bottled salad dressing in the USA. As with most things, homemade tastes much better.

The story of the dressing is an all-American success story. Hidden Valley Ranch in California was a popular tourist spot in the 1950s, and the chef who devised the house dressing recipe became unable to meet the demands of the punters who went absolutely crazy over it and wanted to take jars of the stuff home with them.

So, he made up a dry mix of seasoning, which could then be added to buttermilk and mayonnaise at home. He sent them away with packets of the mix—much more portable and spoil-proof. He spotted an entrepreneurial opportunity and started manufacturing the mix, as well as the bottled dressing. The tourism income at Hidden Valley Ranch was rapidly replaced by the dressing, which eventually took over the continent.

Ranch dressing is delicious with everything: from a plain, crisp-leaf salad and chips to hot barbecue foods and even pizza and burritos.


2 garlic cloves
½ tsp coarse sea salt
250ml prepared or homemade mayonnaise
125ml buttermilk or yoghurt
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 spring onions, thinly sliced


Mash the garlic and salt to a paste in a mortar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the crushed garlic, mayonnaise, buttermilk or yoghurt, parsley, chives, spring onion, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

If using for salad, thin the dressing with a little water until it is a pouring consistency. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.

Recipe: Celia Brooks