What Is the Most-Popular Salad Dressing in the U.S.?
Just call us ranch nation.
Do you ask your server to describe every available salad dressing option, only to default to your beloved ranch? You’re not alone. According to a 2017-2018 study by The Association for Dressings and Sauces, ranch is the most-popular dressing in the country. (Italian, blue cheese, thousand island and Caesar round out the top five.)
Ranch dressing was invented in the 1950’s by Steve Henson. When he and his wife, Gayle, opened Hidden Valley Ranch just outside Santa Barbara, California, and began serving the tangy buttermilk-and-herb dressing to their guests, its popularity really took off. Their company — which expanded to bottled dressings — remains linked with ranch dressing, but plenty of other companies and home cooks have made up their own recipes. Generally, ranch dressing is typically made with buttermilk, salt, garlic, onion and herbs, and is often combined with mayonnaise or sour cream (or Greek yogurt), and sometimes both (particularly when making dip). Feel free to play with the herbs. Parsley and chives show up in many recipes, but tarragon, dill, basil and cilantro can add fun kicks.
Americans can’t get enough of the creamy, herbaceous dressing, using it not only to top salads, but as a dip for raw veggies, buffalo wings and French fries, and to top pizza (and dunk crusts in). It has its place in the kitchen, too, adding an herby twang to hearty mains like mac and cheese and oven-baked chicken and a creamy, cooling touch to summer-ready salads. Here are some of our favorite ranch dressing recipes, including one for the homemade stuff.
Ranch meets its ultimate savory pairing in these salad boats with crumbled bacon (pictured above). The ranch dressing is made extra creamy by combining a trio of buttermilk, sour cream and mayonnaise, and gets its trademark oniony undercurrent from chopped fresh dill and chives. This practically-no-cook recipe (all you have to do is fry up some bacon) makes for a perfect light summer lunch or party appetizer.
Skip the bottled stuff in favor of a bold-and-tangy homemade ranch dressing that’s bolstered with fresh garlic and herbs and freshly ground black pepper. Add extra buttermilk to thin it to a dressing consistency or use a little less to make it thick enough to stand up to vegetable or chip dippers.
This vegetarian salad packs a satisfying punch with a mix of potatoes, corn, broccoli, green beans and tomatoes, and the creamy buttermilk dressing, bolstered with scallions and parsley, pulls it all together.
Cooking the pasta in milk makes for a tender bite, while the addition of two cheeses, cream cheese, sour cream, butter and fresh dill and chive help to approximate ranch dressing’s trademark creamy, tangy flavor.
Blending avocado, low-fat buttermilk and a medley of fresh herbs and aromatics creates an extra smooth ranch dressing without adding mayo or sour cream. Serve it with veggies to dip, drizzle it over grilled fish or chicken or atop avocado toast with eggs.
Sunny’s recipe employs bottled ranch dressing to pull together a quick-and-easy summer pasta salad that’s tailor made for cookouts, picnics and beach trips. Opt for spiral pastas like rotini or cavatappi to ensure that the dressing clings to the noodles.