homemade salad dressing

Homemade Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Are you a creamy ranch dressing lover? Whether you use it as a dip for vegetables or a dressing for your favorite salads, I think you will be surprised at how easy it is to make your own. This homemade yogurt ranch dressing has a bite from the black pepper and raw garlic. Fresh herbs and lemon juice brighten it up perfectly. I hope you love it!

Homemade Yogurt Ranch Dressing

So I’m not going to start by talking about how ranch is “bad” and “here’s how to make it healthier”. You know that’s not how I roll around here. There’s nothing wrong with the bottled stuff if that’s what you have time for and you really love the taste but if you’ve never tried homemade, hear me out!

Ranch dressing is one of those magical foods that just makes things taste GOOD. It gets a bad rap because the traditional store-bought versions have taboo things like sodium and artificial flavors. I’m not entirely opposed to that stuff because I know it helps keep food products affordable and accessible and also cut down on waste (yeah, I’m not your average dietitian). That being said, I also like recreating store-bought favorites in my kitchen for a fresher, tastier and usually less expensive end product.

Homemade Yogurt Ranch Dressing

The Case for Going Homemade

When I worked in a restaurant, I remember making the ranch from scratch at the beginning of my shift during prep work in a HUGE batch. Kind of gross dealing with that much mayonnaise but the taste was seriously so much better than the bottled stuff in the store which can be (for lack of a better word) “goopy”.

My favorite part about the homemade version was that it was pourable and had a strong garlic and herb flavor. For awhile, I’ve wanted to make a variation that has the added health benefits of yogurt, but still has a great flavor profile from garlic, onion, fresh herbs and citrus (no seasoning packet required).

One day I realized that I happened to have all of the ingredients I needed to give this a go so I got to work on making the perfect homemade yogurt ranch dressing. I’m happy to report that my first test ended up turning out just right so here we are!

What You Need to Make Homemade Ranch

The key ingredients:

  • Full-fat Greek yogurt to add creaminess and mouthfeel (I used my favorite siggis 4%)

  • Fresh garlic grated on a microplane (no chunks), plus herbs and citrus to brighten it up

  • Dried onion flakes to provide that must-have {but slightly toned down} onion-y flavor

  • Buttermilk to thin it out without losing the creaminess (Yes you need it. Here are some ideas for using up the rest)

I also added just enough mayo to add a punch of richness while still keeping this on the lighter side, but you could skip it or use your favorite plant-based alternative instead (I know mayo is a touchy subject for some people). It’s as simple as whisking everything up in a bowl until smooth and creamy - you might never go back to the store-bought version again!

Homemade Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Use this yogurt ranch as a dip for fresh vegetables or drizzle it over your favorite salad. If you dip your pizza in it I won’t judge.


Homemade Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 1.25 cups (5-6 servings) | Prep time: 5 min | Total time: 10 min

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup plain 4% siggis yogurt (or other full fat variety)

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup low fat cultured buttermilk

  • 3 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane

  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

  • 2 tsp dried minced onion

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth. Store in a jar with a tight lid, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Info

Per 1/4 cup serving: 75 calories, 3 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fat, 4 grams protein, 66 mg sodium, 2 grams sugar


BONUS: 5 Simple Salad Dressings

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Spring Strawberry Salad with Orange Champagne Vinaigrette

strawberry feta salad individual portion

Easter is coming guys. If you're anything like me, you wait until the last minute to figure out what your contribution to the big family brunch will be. If this is the case, I have the easiest fresh and seasonal salad that will definitely go over well with any crowd. It has everything a spring salad should - fresh leafy greens, seasonal fruit, salty feta, toasted almonds and a homemade dressing that leaves people asking - what was in that? I'm all about contrast with my salads and this one covers all the bases. 

strawberry feta spring salad in salad bowl

As a side note: somehow I developed a reputation as the resident salad-contributor to a lot of social events. Not even because I'm a dietitian but because I like coming up with different combinations! Most people think the salad is the boring part of the meal but I like to think of it as the perfect compliment. Vegetables should never be obligatory and with a salad this good, the greens can absolutely be a favorite side. Anyone else agree? 

strawberry feta salad with easter linen

With this one I started with the traditional components of an Easter salad but made it just slightly more gourmet with toasted nuts and a dressing that really pops. Both of these are insanely easy, so you can impress without learning any complicated new techniques or having to search for out-of-the-box ingredients. And while you can certainly add the almonds without toasting, PLEASE just do me a favor and do not skip this step. It takes just a few extra minutes and seriously amplifies the flavor. Similarly, adding fresh-squeezed orange juice isn't totally necessary, but it is a special occasion so I say just go for it. 

Spring Strawberry Salad with Orange Champagne Vinaigrette

Spring Strawberry Salad with Orange Champagne Vinaigrette

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 6-8 servings | Prep time: 20 minutes

ingredients

  • 12 oz spring mix

  • 16 oz strawberries, halved

  • 4 oz feta cheese

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar

  • 1 medium orange (I like Cara Cara)

  • 1 tsp honey

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • salt & pepper to taste

instructions

  1. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat; add almonds and stir frequently toasting until fragrant and browned (watching carefully not to burn). Transfer to a plate and cool completely in a single layer.

  2. Make the dressing: add vinegar, orange juice and honey to a 16 oz jar and mix with a fork until well combined. Then add olive oil, screw the lid on and shake vigorously. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Add greens to a large salad bowl along with the chopped strawberries, feta cheese crumbles and toasted almonds. Add dressing per preference (you likely won't need it all) and toss well. Serve immediately. Store any remaining dressing in the fridge for up to 5 days.


The Formula for a Seriously Satisfying Winter Salad

Salad.jpg

This salad.

I've casually talked about this salad before, but I wanted to actually dedicate a post to it so I would have it as a reference, and so more people could find it and enjoy it like I do!

Is it just me, or are salads kind of a rarity in the winter? In the summer I feel like I eat one almost every day because something cold, light and fresh just always sounds good. Once it starts to get snowy and cold outside, I gravitate towards soups & chilis, curries, roasted vegetables and sheet pan dinners a lot more.

I still find that salads in the winter can be satisfying with some key components though. It seems like there are two major complaints when it comes to making salad at home. 

1. They aren't filling.

2. It's hard to keep all of the fresh stuff on hand and use it before it goes bad. 

Salads can be inspired by what leftovers you have, or what herbs you need to use up. You don't have to be making a special grocery list for this stuff. Have trust in your pantry! And stop making sad salads with just lettuce, tomato and onion and instead make it interesting and something you look forward to eating. Don't forget to bulk it up with some protein like beans, chicken, canned fish - this is how you get staying power!

I created this infographic to show you the formula that I usually go through mentally when I'm building a winter salad.

salad infographic.png

And here is a recipe for my all-time favorite combo! I love the contrast between the cherries and the bleu cheese - these are two ingredients that I almost always have on hand. The dressing is really basic, and can be substituted with just about anything that you really like. 

Pair this with some seedy crackers or bread and you have yourself a satisfying lunch! 


Arugula, Cherry and Bleu Cheese Salad with Mustardy Vinaigrette

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 1 meal-sized serving | Prep Time: 10 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 2 large handfuls Arugula or Baby Kale Mix
  • 1 medium Carrot, grated
  • 1/3 cup Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Sour Cherries
  • 2 Tbsp Sliced Almonds, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp Bleu Cheese Crumbles
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • to taste Salt & Pepper
  • optional Fresh Herbs, chopped

Instructions

1. Layer the salad ingredients in order they are listed (greens to bleu cheese crumbles).

2. Make your dressing: mix vinegar, mustard and brown sugar in a small jar, then add oil, cover with lid and shake until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste, along with any other fresh herbs you have on hand if desired.

3. Toss the salad with as much or little dressing as you prefer, then save any leftover dressing for later use.