What Does Ranch Taste Like?

If you haven’t tried ranch or are wondering what it tastes like, you might not be among the majority of Americans who prefer ranch dressing over other kinds of salad dressing like italian, thousand island, honey mustard, and many others. You’ll also soon to learn to recognize that ranch isn’t just a salad dressing, but a condiment used in many foods to add a little flavor – and fat – to a meal.

You’ve surely seen whitish bottles at the grocery store – usually in many varieties and brands. What does ranch taste like, and why is it so popular?

Let’s start, what does ranch taste like?

Ranch has a unique flavor. Ranch is normally creamy and has the taste of herbs, and sometimes garlic or some onion. The flavors of garlic or onion typically aren’t especially strong – though in some varieties, the use of garlic or onion provides a little bite.

Ranch also often has tiny chunks of bacon, so a slightly meaty flavor is also entirely possible.

We can also tell you what ranch is not: Ranch normally isn’t sweet or chunky. While your preference may drive you toward sweet or potentially chunky, it’s not typical of ranch.

What’s in ranch?

The creamy taste of ranch comes from one of the main ingredients – buttermilk. Buttermilk is also replaceable by sour cream for a tangy flavor or mayo for a heavier, even creamier variety. 

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The herbal flavor comes from a combination of dill and chives, which also gives ranch some of the greenish speckled look the dressing is known for. Dill and chives have a fresh, earthy taste that contrasts strongly with the buttermilk flavor.

When combining buttermilk and the herbs traditionally found in ranch, you have a very creamy taste with a mixture of light veggies.

How about the texture of ranch?

Most forms of ranch are quite smooth because of the buttermilk. It’s possible to get thicker rancy using other ingredients like mayonnaise. 

Ranch can also be a bit thinner, especially when used as an actual salad dressing. The intent is often to make the salad more palatable and not smother all the greens.

What do you put ranch on?

Especially in North America, ranch can be put on just about anything. Ranch was “patented” by Hidden Valley as a salad dressing, but the flavor has been so liked that avid ranch lovers can put it on just about anything. Here are a few particular uses.

  • Chicken wings. This is especially true for spicy or unsauced chicken wings. Ranch can add some flavor to regular chicken wings that are just baked with no breading or particular sauce. One dip certainly adds some flavor – and makes the potentially dry chicken exterior way better. Ranch is also pretty good at calming down the burning in your mouth after eating spicier chicken wings like Buffalo slathered wings during the big game. The buttermilk can put out the acidic feeling in your mouth.
  • Veggie dip: Ok, so veggie dip is kind of like a salad, but backwards, but hear us out: The veggie tray at your office part – you know the one with cauliflower, carrots, celery, etc – that can be easily spruced up by ranch. Put one cup at each end and people will be spooning out more ranch than veggies. 
  • A layer within dip: When it comes to chip dips, layers are great. Add ranch as a layer, most senically near cheese, to add some creaminess to some dips that have veggies and meats.
  • In chili: Chili enthusiasts are not going to be happy with this, but for those who don’t like spicy – adding ranch can definitely help. Ranch adds a sweet, tangy flavoring to chili that can also mute spices like cayenne and chili powder.
  • On your burger: Don’t like cheese, or need to add some moisture to your burger? Ranch can help with that. Just put a little on unless you like a messy burger. Ok, we like messy burgers too.
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Is ranch good for you?

Let’s be honest here: Among the main ingredients in ranch is buttermilk, which is a blend of milk and cream and the byproduct of turning one into the other. Buttermilk isn’t great for you, and the combination of all ingredients within Hidden Valley churns ot 14 grams of fat in a serving. That’s a fair bit of fat.

While ranch might actually be the feature of a salad (the veggies might help), they also add significant fat. Of course, you are still getting the vitamins and minerals from vegetables too.

In many cases, a salad might actually be very healthy you for until you add the dressing – almost no matter what kind it is. 

You do of course have options for less fatty ranch. Some companies have made ranch that offers all the tangy, sweet and creamy flavor without making you want to hide your scale.

If you do prefer the original ranch, just keep in mind you shouldn’t eat it every day – but that word of advice can be used with many kinds of food that have dairy products at the center.


You might have learned what’s in ranch today! The appearance of ranch doesn’t lend much to its contents besides the white creamy look making it apparent that ranch has plenty of cream and dairy. Ranch is also what you make of it – food makers realize that people want healthier options and have started to perfect the right balance of creaminess, herb taste, and a result that won’t make you need to run a 5K. 

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We also encourage you to try ranch on a few different things if you haven’t already – or if you don’t like ranch. Trying it in a dip might change your mind about Hidden Valley’s creation.