The Clever Way Restaurants Make Tastier Ranch Dressing

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Ranch dressing is every bit as American as apple pie. It's come a long way from its relatively recent origins and can be paired with just about anything, including, believe it or not, a ranch pie crust from Ranch-dressing apple pie can't be too far behind. America!

Most of us probably don't need a guide to ranch dressing, but the path from humble camp innovation to global fame is fascinating. According to Edible Alaska, ranch dressing was invented by Steve Henson at a remote Alaskan work camp in 1949 in an attempt to get a work crew to eat some veggies. Eventually, Henson and his wife moved to a ranch in California, where they rechristened and renamed a dude ranch "Hidden Valley" and started selling packets of powdered ranch mix that could be mixed into dairy and mayonnaise. Hidden Valley Ranch was sold to Clorox within a few decades and continued its rapid growth.

Now, Americans eat $1 billion worth of ranch every year, which Money has declared millennials' favorite condiment. Only mayonnaise outsells ranch dressing, per Statista. Restaurants have had to respond, but unlike ketchup, they can't just plop a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch onto diner's tables.

Restaurants make ranch dressing the way it was intended to be made

Restaurants like to have an air of mystery about how they make such excellent food. When it comes to ranch dressing, it might actually be Hidden Valley. But it's probably not coming out of a bottle. Mel Magazine reveals that the modern iteration of the original Hidden Valley Ranch packets is alive and well in our favorite restaurants. Bottles of ranch are full of vegetable oil, which is fine, but if that's what you're used to, the ranch made from a packet with buttermilk, mayonnaise, and sour cream will just hit differently.

Restaurants know this, and there's no shame if it tastes that good. Plus, the packets still give restaurants plenty of freedom to use their favorite buttermilk or another dairy. They can fiddle with the ratios to range from a liquid drizzle to a stiff dip.

You can, too. Hidden Valley Restaurant-Style Dressing can be found at supermarkets or on Amazon. The list of Hidden Valley seasoning mix packets is plentiful, so be sure to look for the one proclaiming to be the buttermilk receipt. From there, get creative. Add some heat with cayenne, throw in some fresh herbs, or take your homemade ranch dressing up a notch by adding lavender.

Ranch dressing packets are a clever secret ingredient

In powdered, ranch dressing is asking to be sprinkled onto just about everything. After all, the only way to improve the best condiment to put on fries is to dust those fries with ranch seasoning mix.

Good Housekeeping offers a dozen ways to put these seasoning packets to use. It makes an excellent rub for pork chops or steak destined for tacos and adds a zesty kick to meatballs or cheesy bread. How about something akin to cool ranch chickpeas? Sprinkle this on some crispy, roasted chickpeas. Corn on the cob. Deviled eggs. Have you upgraded Chex mix?

If the packet's additives (like MSG) give you pause, The Pioneer Woman has a homemade version that can be used to sprinkle or turn into your own ranch dressing. This receipt adds dried parsley, dried dill, freeze-dried chives, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper to dry buttermilk powder. Just whisk it to combine and store it in the fridge.