Take Your Homemade Ranch Dressing Up A Notch By Adding Lavender

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Ranch dressing might have been born as a salad dressing, but it's taken on many more forms through the years. First invented in 1949, it was created out of Steve Henson's desire to make the perfect buttermilk dressing. According to Thrillist, Henson, who founded Hidden Valley Ranch, sold the dressing locally for more than 20 years before The Clorox Company purchased it in 1972 and developed it into the massive brand we know today.

Of course, plenty of other companies have since developed their own version of the iconic salad dressing, but with items like ranch seasoning also on the market, that unforgettable ranch flavor has made its way into other meals, such as being served alongside fried chicken and atop burger patties. Plus, ranch is now used as much as a dipping sauce as it is a salad dressing.

Chefs and home cooks alike have also built their own ranch recipes, sometimes featuring interesting ingredients to create complex flavors. And Bon Appétit's Chala June is certain that the perfect flavor element to ranch dressing is lavender.

Why you should add lavender to your ranch dressing

In its most basic form, ranch is a rich, creamy dressing made with buttermilk, plenty of herbs, and mayonnaise or sour cream (often both). The subtlety of the creamy ingredients allows the herbs to shine and gives the dressing a customizable base; ingredients such as mayonnaise and sour cream often serve as undertones to the flavors they're paired with rather than standout elements. This means that adding a new flavor or herb can make all the difference in taking the recipe to new heights. And to Chala June, lavender is the secret.

"The brightness of lavender is an amazing complement to fatty ingredients like buttermilk," they write in an essay for Bon Appétit. They add that the lavender should be chopped because "the flavor of whole buds can be overwhelming." Their recipe adds spices like rosemary, oregano, and garlic and onion powders to the dressing as well.

"The Flavor Bible," a book that discusses flavor pairings, suggests lavender pairs well with ingredients like ricotta, crème fraîche, and mascarpone — all of which offer similar subtle flavors to those found in the base of ranch dressing. Lavender has been known to boost other dishes and drinks, too, such as your morning latte.

Other ways to boost your ranch dressing

Once you make homemade ranch dressing, it will be hard to ever go back to the store-bought stuff. Traditionally, buttermilk is used in the recipe, and adding it will give you the rich dairy flavor you're looking for. Of course, you can substitute whole milk or milk with even less fat, but you might notice it in the final product.

The Pioneer Woman suggests boosting ranch's flavor by adding a spicy element, such as sriracha or harissa paste. Since ranch has such a creamy base, it's easy to add other flavor elements because they'll blend well into the dressing's profile. Better Homes & Gardens adds miso for its tangy saltiness, which can be compared to Worcestershire sauce (milder white miso is used rather than red).

Ultimately, the best part of making homemade ranch is that you can boost its flavor however you want. Add some chipotle peppers for a kick, or some lemon juice for extra tang and brightness. The ranch dressing base lends itself to plenty of different varieties.