iOS app Android app

Posted:  |  Updated: 08/31/12 10:48 AM ET

The Best Ranch Dressing: A Bottled Ranch Taste Test

Ranch dressing: Kids will dip almost anything in it, salad-fearing adults douse their daily greens in it, and Melissa McCarthy drinks it by the bottle. Commercials for Hidden Valley Ranch would make you think the stuff is the nectar of the gods -- and to some people, it is.

But if you've ever had homemade ranch dressing, it's hard to go back to the bottled stuff. We decided to conduct a taste test to see if anything comes close to the homemade kind.

The ingredients in some of the brands tested below may be enough to make you quit bottled ranch, cold turkey. The kind that sits at room temperature on store shelves includes a ton of unpronounceable preservatives. But there's good news: check out the refrigerated produce aisle of your grocery store, and you'll find a few preservative-free brands that ended up performing far better than the rest of the competition.

For the health-conscious consumer, we included a few brands of ranch made with yogurt. We were hoping we'd love them, in order to spare ourselves some future caloric intake, but alas … check out the results below.

Loading Slideshow...
  • #1: Marie's Creamy Ranch Dressing (Recommended)

    170 calories, 19g fat per serving (Found in refrigerated produce aisle) <b>Comments:</b> "Is this dip? It's so rich and delicious." "Pretty good!" "Tastes fresh and homemade -- I went back for more." "One of my favorites! This actually tastes like ranch." "Sweet and tasty, with a slight herbal flavor." <b>Ingredients:</b> Soybean oil, cultured nonfat buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolks, contains less than 2% of distilled vinegar, spices, salt, sugar water, onion, garlic, xanthan gum, parsley.

  • #2: Marzetti Classic Ranch Dressing (Recommended)

    160 calories, 17g fat per serving<em> (Found in refrigerated produce aisle)</em> <b>Comments:</b> "Classically perfect ranch dressing." "I'd use this if I had to buy bottled ranch." "Nice and creamy -- would be good with fries!" "Tangy -- reminds me of creamy Italian." "Bright and vibrant buttermilk flavor." <b>Ingredients:</b> Soybean oil buttermilk, distilled vinegar, egg yolk, salt, sugar, garlic, autolyzed yeast extract, onion, spices, xanthan gum, natural flavors.

  • #3: Kraft Ranch (Mildly Recommended)

    110 calories, 11g fat per serving <b>Comments:</b> "Decent flavor, but too thick." "Creamy and acceptable." "Creamy, with a mild herb and onion flavor." "I don't love this, but it does taste like traditional ranch." <b>Ingredients:</b> Water, soybean oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, contains less than 2% of egg yolks, whey (from milk), modified food starch, garlic juice, buttermilk, monosodium glutamate, xanthan gum, phosphoric acid, polysorbate 60, spice, artificial color, tartaric acid, artificial flavor, sorbic acid and calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor).

  • #4: Wishbone Ranch (Mildly Recommended)

    130 calories, 13g fat per serving <b>Comments:</b> "Tastes 'shelved' but has the classic spices I'd expect to taste in ranch." "Nice thickness and tang. Is this Hidden Valley?" "Zesty, but almost too rich." "Super creamy, with less herbs than most." "This is ranch dressing as it should be." <B>Ingredients:</b> Water, soybean oil, sugar buttermilk powder, contains 2% of less of each of the following: salt, distilled vinegar, modified corn starch, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum, onion powder, garlic powder, monosodium glutamate, sorbic acid and calcium disodium EDTA (used to protect quality), polysorbate 60, spices, lemon juice concentrate, propylene glycol alginate, maltodextrin (corn), natural flavor, disodium insinuate, disodium guanylate, soy lecithin.

  • #5: Hidden Valley Ranch (Mildly Recommended)

    140 calories, 14g fat per serving <b>Comments:</b> "Super creamy and inoffensive, but it doesn't taste fresh." "I'm getting some hints of blue cheese." "Just okay." "Has a weird blue cheese flavor." "Tastes almost like old black pepper. There's no herb flavor -- it's very artificial." "Slightly offensive." <b>Ingredients:</b> Soybean oil, water, egg yolk, sugar, salt, cultured nonfat buttermilk, natural flavors (soy), spices, less than 1% of: dried garlic, dried onion, vinegar, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum, modified food starch, monosodium glutamate, artificial flavors, disodium phosphate, sorbic acid and calcium disodium EDTA as preservatives, disodium insinuate and disodium guanylate.

  • #6: 365 Organic Ranch Dressing (Mildly Recommended)

    120 calories, 13g fat per serving <b>Comments:</b> "Way too tangy!" "Tastes like it was mixed with Italian dressing." "Too thin, but there's a nice herbal note." "Nice complexity of flavor." "Strong onion taste, and thinner than the others." <b>Ingredients:</b> Organic expeller pressed soybean oil, water, organic apple cider vinegar, organic buttermilk, organic cane sugar, salt, organic lemon juice (water, organic lemon juice concentrate), organic egg yolks, organic onion, organic whey (milk), organic garlic, lactic acid, xanthan gum, organic mustard powder, natural anchovy flavor, organic gum arabic, organic spices, nutritional yeast, sodium citrate, organic spice extract.

  • #7: Ken's Steakhouse Farmhouse Ranch with Buttermilk (Not Recommended)

    160 calories, 16g fat per serving <b>Comments:</b> "Tastes like a lot of dried herbs." "Tastes good at first, but there's a bad aftertaste." "Very bizarre spicy taste." "Everything about this tastes fake." "Tastes acidic and highly processed." <b>Ingredients:</b> Vegetable oil (soybean and/or canola), buttermilk, water, distilled vinegar, sugar, egg yolk, extra virgin olive oil, contains less than 2% of: garlic juice, salt, buttermilk solids, onion, carrot, celery, onion juice, monosodium glutamate, lactic acid, natural flavor (milk), spice, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum, sorbic acid, red bell pepper, polysorbate 60 lemon juice concentrate, sodium benzoate and calcium disodium EDTA as preservatives, maltodextrin, propylene glycol alginate, sour cream solids (milk), modified corn starch, citric acid.

  • #8: Marie's Ranch Yogurt Dressing (Not Recommended)

    70 calories, 7g fat per serving <em>(Found in refrigerated produce aisle)</em> <b>Comments:</b> "I hate this. It's runny and sour." "Not good." "Tastes like it was made in a lab." "Weirdly reminiscent of tartar sauce." "Way too many herbs." "This almost tastes soured." <b>Ingredients:</b> Lowfat yogurt (cultured lowfat milk, skim milk, pectin, carrageenan), soybean oil, cultured nonfat buttermilk, water, contains less than 2% of distilled vinegar, egg yolks, sugar, salt, spices, natural flavor, xanthan gum, garlic, onion, parsley.

  • #9: Bolthouse Farms Classic Ranch Yogurt Dressing (Not Recommended)

    45 calories, 3g fat per serving (Found in refrigerated produce aisle) <b>Comments:</b> "Off-taste -- is this lite?" "Disgusting." "Too chemical-tasting." "Bland and thin." "Creamy, artificial buttermilk flavor." <b>Ingredients:</b> Buttermilk (cultured nonfat milk, milk, sodium citrate, vitamin A palmitate), water, yogurt (cultured ilk, pectin, carrageenan), soybean oil, reduced acid pineapple juice concentrate, whey protein concentrate, natural flavor, salt, distilled vinegar, egg yolk, xanthan gum, spice, phosphoric acid, guar gum, carrageenan.

  • #10: Newman's Own Ranch Dressing (Not Recommended)

    150 calories, 16g fat per serving <b>Comments:</b> "Way too much garlic powder! Wow, overpowering." "Very peppery notes." "Sour." "Sweet and very, very tangy." "Way too rich." <b>Ingredients:</b> Vegetable oil (soybean and/or canola oil), water, buttermilk (milk), distilled vinegar, sugar, egg yolk, garlic juice, salt, contains 2% of less of: buttermilk solids (milk), onion, garlic, natural flavor, lactic acid, xanthan gum, lemon juice concentrate, chives, spice.

  • #11: Brianna's Home Style Classic Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (Not Recommended)

    160 calories, 17g fat per serving <b>Comments:</b> "Acidic!" "Tastes like bitter citrus." "Disgusting. Tastes spoiled." "Sweet and herbal." "Bold, strong flavor." <b>Ingredients:</b> Canola oil, water, white vinegar, buttermilk powder, sugar egg yolks, salt, garlic puree (garlic, citric acid), apple cider vinegar, natural flavors, onion powder, lactic acid, lemon juice concentrate, dried green onion, mixed tocopherols (natural antioxidant-vitamin E), spices, dried dill, xanthan gum.

  • #12: Annie's Naturals Cowgirl Ranch (Not Recommended)

    110 calories, 11g fat per serving <b>Comments:</b> "Tastes like ... breading?" "Sweet and slightly tangy." "Grainy and bitter. The worst ranch dressing I've ever had." "Fake tasting, with a strange chalky texture." "Tastes like spoiled bouillon base." "This tastes like chicken!" <b>Ingredients:</b> Water, expeller pressed vegetable oil (canola and/or sunflower), apple cider vinegar, buttermilk, cane sugar, sea salt, whole egg, ion, garlic, chives, xanthan gum, parsley.

FOLLOW TASTE

Filed by Kristen Aiken  |