Saturday, February 6

Recipe: Quick and Easy Homemade Low Fat Buttermilk Ranch Dressing and Dip

Are you one of those people who swoons over phrases like buttermilk pancakes and buttermilk biscuits but never actually buys buttermilk because there's nothing to do with the other 3½ cups in the carton after you've used the half cup you needed? Behold the solution.

Pour it on! This simple, healthy salad dressing is flavored with onion, garlic, and dill. To make a thicker dip for veggies or chips, simply add less buttermilk.

I love salad. I eat it nearly every day, sometimes even for breakfast. I also love salad dressing. A two tablespoon 'serving' is something I simply cannot fathom, probably due to the size of my salads.

For years, I always tossed my greens with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a little granulated onion and garlic, salt and freshly ground pepper. If I was feeling especially energetic, I would blend the dressing together first in a small Pyrex measuring cup with a fork, adding a dollop of dijon mustard or maybe some chopped fresh herbs.

When I moved to the country and started growing my own lettuce from seed (it's
easier than you think!) and eating salads out of a giant green vintage Pyrex mixing bowl, I realized that I was probably consuming as many extra-virgin olive oil calories as were in a large piece of pie.

Rather than give up dessert—or my waistline—I started making a lowfat yogurt-based concoction I dubbed Farm Dressing, since I lived on a farm and not a ranch. In summer it was full of chopped fresh basil, in winter lots of parsley. Variations abounded, and I lived on the stuff for years. The thought of buying bottled salad dressing never crossed my mind.

Then one day I crossed over. I accepted a taste of Trader Joe's Lowfat Parmesan Ranch Dressing from that dangerous sample counter in the back of the store, and immediately became addicted. So tasty! So easy! So few calories! So expensive, since it didn't take me long to go through a $3.49 bottle—and I bought a lot of bottles.

The good news is that last summer I crossed back over. I quit my Lowfat Parmesan Ranch Dressing addiction cold turkey. I'm also eating more fresh veggie snacks than ever before.

The bad news is that I'm now addicted to homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. I eat it on a whole lot more than just salad and can easily suck down a cup of the stuff in a day or two. My only saving grace? It doesn't taste good on pie.

Do you have any ranch dressing memories, stories, or recipes to share?

It's so easy to eat your veggies (garden goodness from last summer)

Lowfat Buttermilk Ranch Dressing / Dip
Makes 3 to 4 cups

**Click here to print this recipe**

The beauty of ranch dressing is that there are about a zillion different ways to make it. My version was inspired by Cookiecrumb (she of the amazingly simple Pear Butter Recipe) by way of this moving post on Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.

I'm calling it lowfat because compared to some versions—like the one I saw that was half mayonnaise—it is lowfat, and I didn't want anybody to shy away from the recipe thinking they'd have to give up dessert in order to enjoy it.

You can dress up this basic version in all sorts of ways, but what's nice is that you don't have to. I actually like it best plain. It comes together so quickly you'll even have enough energy left to mix some up when you get home at one in the morning after a 400-mile day of driving and enjoy it with your I survived the big city! bag of potato chips and bottle of chilled champagne.

Or when a salad craving hits and the steaks are already on the grill—just drizzle some over a few handfuls of fresh spinach or arugula (so
easy to grow) and you're good to go.

That said, the flavors of this dressing definitely improve after sitting in the fridge for a day or two. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that the last dregs of the previous batch didn't always taste better than the new one because I'd done something differently, but simply because they'd been allowed to mellow.

I even eat it on freshly laid eggs.

Homemade buttermilk ranch dressing just might be the most versatile Superbowl party food: drizzle it over nachos or quesadillas; dunk your Buffalo wings, fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, or fried zucchini and mushrooms in it; use it in coleslaw; slap some on a burger; or even put in on pizza (something I learned from Lisa the Homesick Texan, who makes her dressing with cilantro, serranos, and lime juice).

And of course it's a great all around dip for vegetables and chips.

This recipe makes 3 to 4 cups of dressing, which might seem like a lot. It's not.

3/4 cup sour cream (I use lowfat)

3/4 cup yogurt (I use lowfat—homemade yogurt is wonderful)
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I'm a Hellman's/Best Foods girl)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
1 teaspoon granulated onion (or onion powder)
1 slightly heaping teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon salt (my organic mineral salt is pink)
Freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I like white)
1 to 2 cups cultured buttermilk (I use lowfat)

Optional additions:
Fresh dill rather than dried
Chopped fresh parsley
Chopped chives
Chopped scallions
Minced shallots
Minced garlic
Fresh basil
Fresh or dried oregano
Other fresh herbs
Fresh lemon juice
A little lemon zest
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
A smidge of dijon mustard
A pinch of cayenne or paprika
Finely shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine the sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, granulated garlic, granulated onion, dill weed, salt, and several grinds of pepper. Mix well.

Stir in the balsamic vinegar and then 1 cup of the buttermilk. Add up to 1 cup more of buttermilk, depending on whether you want a thicker dip or a thinner dressing.

Adjust the seasonings to taste, adding another tablespoon of balsamic vinegar if desired, along with any of the optional additions. Keep in mind that the flavors will become bolder over time.

You might enjoy my other dressings and dips:
Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
High Kickin' Creamy Tomato Dressing

All Purpose Arugula Cottage Cheese Dip/Spread/Sauce
Chives and Herbed Yogurt Cheese Dip
Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip

Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip
Quick Refried Black Bean Dip
Radish Cream Cheese Dip with Parsley, Scallions, and Feta
Ridiculously Easy White Bean and Basil Pesto Spread

Sour Cream and Onion Dip (and foodie travel)
White Bean Artichoke Dip with Rosemary and Kalamata Olives

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, the drenched in dressing foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, photos, and addictions from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.


  1. Oh, I will definitely be whipping some of this up today! This looks sooo good, I can hardly wait. A girl has to be ready for the big game after all. Thanks for sharing another yummy recipe with us!

  2. I refuse to buy bottled ranch salad dressing after every reading of an ingredient list, so I'll be trying this dip real soon. I've tried other homemade ranch recipes, but they were more trouble and didn't keep so well. The promise of improved flavor with time sounds like a winner.

    Oh, and the Super Bowl is this weekend? Huh. Apparently I'm one of the five people in America who hadn't noticed!

  3. I'm new to your farm but I have enjoyed my visit. The dressing recipe looks and sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing. I'll be back!

  4. What a fantastic base recipe you provided? Yes, the amount seems like a lot, but I have no doubt that it will easily be consumed in our household. Love the long list of optional ingredients also, as they allow us to use what we have in season to flavor the dressing. Yum!

  5. Am I correct in thinking that by buttermilk you mean the cultured type buttermilk and not buttermilk left over from making butter? I have both in the fridge but was just checking to make sure.

  6. Everything you wrote about buttermilk is so true - what to do with the leftovers has always been a problem. Thank you so much for a great recipe that will solve that problem - I love salads too, and I can't wait to give this a try. it looks delicious!

  7. Ha haha. I had just thrown a bunch of spinach into my huge mixing bowl, dumped Trader Joe's dressing on it, and sat down to read your blog. I'm going to try your recipe for my breakfast salad tomorrow. I guess I could put more parmesan on top, instead of having it in the dressing. Thanks.

  8. I usually make more pancakes with the leftover buttermilk in the fridge. Maybe your dressing recipe will help me find my waistline.

  9. This sounds so much better than the bottled stuff. I'm printing out the recipe right now! I'm one of "those" people who never knows what to do with the leftover buttermilk (I do buy it though). Seems like my problem is now solved. TY!!

  10. Thanks for a healthier version than I am used to fixing. I will whip this up on Monday after I go to grocery. I LOVE Ranch/Farm Dressing better than anything!

  11. My Mother make THE BEST bleu cheese dressing and this recipe is not that far off from her recipe for Bleu Cheese. It is so simple, Sour Cream, Milk, cracked pepper, garlic salt, balsamic vinegar and of course bleu cheese. YUMMO! I can't get enough of it, I could eat it by the spoonful! Of course when I try and make it, knowing full well that she is a dump and pour kind of cook, I just can't match the taste. If you figure out the recipe let me know, until then I guess I will have to venture the 100 miles home to see Mom :-)

  12. I made this up yesterday. Today I took it to my aunt's birthday party. We licked the bowl CLEAN! No one could believe that it was homemade. Love your blog and your recipies! THANK YOU!

  13. Hi Susan. Ranch dressing is my favorite kind of creamy dressing, but I can't stand the bottled stuff, too salty for my taste. I make a mix of my own and keep it on hand to whip up with sour cream and buttermilk. I'll have to give yours a try, too!

  14. I'm excited to try this. My fiance and I are constantly looking for an at-home substitute for what we call "restaurant ranch", which is COMPLETELY different from yucky bottled ranch dressing. Maybe this will be it!

  15. Hi Everybody,
    It's great to hear so much buttermilk ranch dressing enthusiasm!

    Funny Farm,

    Apologies for the delayed reply. I use lowfat cultured buttermilk that I buy in one quart cartons, but if you do make this with 'real' buttermilk leftover from making your own butter, please let us know how it turns out.

    One of my many 2010 goals is to start making butter with the several inches of thick cream that comes on top of each gallon jar of local raw Jersey milk we buy - which means I'll be looking for ways to use up that buttermilk! : )

    Ha, that is too funny.

    I love the idea of turning this into a bleu cheese dressing.

    So glad it was a hit!

    Great idea to make up your own mix and just keep it on hand.

  16. Super! I can't wait to try it, as we don't have Ranch Dressing mix in the United Kingdom.

  17. Yum, so good! I live on homemade ranch dressing in the summer. I just make it in a big mason jar, and store it in the fridge for a few days. Great recipe!

  18. Dear farmgirl... you are the bomb!
    I've been cooking professionally for 3 decades (I'm pretty old yet still vibrant)Love your enthusiasm, fresh and pure ideas, and ultimately I'm a gonna utilize your hard work for my restaurant. Hope you take this as the utmost of complements ?
    Keep the faith, mother nature loves you xxx

  19. Thanks for sharing your recipe. We just finished our third batch, each one a bit different. This last one was my favorite-less yogurt and two heaping tablespoons of horseradish. It made a wonderful dressing for Waldorf Salad.
    I've been enjoying your blog for the past few weeks. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us.

  20. You know, this is a great post! So many ideas for little ol' ranch dressing. I'm going to share it on my fanpage, cause we have lettuce coming out our ears out here. (hope that's ok)

  21. I so enjoy your blog! I took live in Missouri probably not that far from you. We have amazing weather for growing gardens! I can't wait to make your version of this dressing with my fresh lettuce.
    Keep up the great blog!

  22. Susan your cooking and baking is excellent but your pictures and stories make my day.

  23. This sounds and looks delicious! I'm for sure printing out the recipe and going to have it this weekend when we cook on the grill for the salad. You posted this just in time because I have to go to the grocery store tomorrow morning, and I can pick up what I will need to make it.

  24. Really enjoyed your website. Not sure if i missed it but I didn't see any info on the calories or nutritional value of your lowfat buttermilk dressing. Would love to know because after reading the comments and looking at the ingredients, it looks really good.

  25. That is soooooo good. Made it to dip our oven sweet potato fries in, then thought.....wonder what the chicken would taste like if I just dipped a piece. Yummmmmmmeeeeeee! That's how. Thank you for that great recipe. I really enjoy your site and emails.

  26. This is the best dressing recipe I have ever tried. All of your recipes are fabulous. Over the years I have made so many. Please keep them coming. I have missed your posts and hope all is well with you.

  27. Here is how you use your leftover buttermilk: Drink it cold (so good!), an old dish in Denmark is buttermilk soup with raisins, bake bread with it + water - I only know one kind of buttermilk, the rest product from making butter, and if you use organic, good old-fashioned buttermilk, you can easily use it for baking, although it is more than 14 days older than "best before"! I have been doing that for almost 50 years. You can also bake Irish soda bread.


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love hearing about your experiences with my recipes. Comments on older posts are always welcome!

Please note that I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be a while before yours appears.

I try my best to answer all questions, though sometimes it takes me a few days. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your e-visits to our farm!