What Exactly Is Ranch Dressing, Anyway?

Ranch is the most popular salad dressing in America — a position it has held since 1992 — and its versatility as a sauce makes it an ideal dip for everything from wings to pizza crusts (if you should feel so inspired). It actually has a pretty interesting history, too.

It was first whipped up by a plumbing contractor named Steve Henson in the early 1950s, and a few years later he and his wife, Gayle, opened a dude ranch near Santa Barbara, California, that you may have heard of: Hidden Valley Ranch. Guests were served the concoction, and it was such a big hit that the Hensons began selling it to take home, both as the dressing itself and as seasoning packets to be mixed with mayonnaise and buttermilk. Eventually, the duo formed Hidden Valley Ranch Food Products, Inc. and opened a factory. In 1972, they sold the company to Clorox, the current owner, for $8 million.

But what exactly is in this tangy, creamy sauce? According to a close approximation of the original recipe on Top Secret Recipes, it contains equal parts mayo and buttermilk, dried parsley, salt and pepper, MSG (flavor enhancer), garlic powder, onion powder, and thyme. It's actually quite easy to make at home and is also infinitely customizable to your own tastes.