I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of ranch dressing substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.
If you’re looking for a healthier substitute for ranch dressing, try mixing cottage cheese with lemon and dill or dissolving ranch powder in low-fat yogurt. For a dairy-free ranch dressing substitute try lemon tahini dressing, or dijon mustard mixed with olive oil.
Ready? Let’s jump right on.
I made a simple garden salad to test out my ranch dressing substitutes.
Ranch is a creamy dressing typically made with mayonnaise, buttermilk, and sour cream. This cult favorite is rich and creamy, with a salty, sour taste that makes it oh-so-addictive.
I was looking for a substitute that is just as versatile as ranch and offers a moreish flavor that’ll have everyone coming back for more.
Here the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Homemade Ranch Dressing||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Cottage Cheese + Lemon + Dill||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Ranch Powder + Yogurt||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Tzatziki||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Avocado||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Lemon Tahini Dressing||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Dijon Mustard + Olive Oil||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
Common uses of ranch dressing and the best substitutes
Ranch dressing is typically used as a salad dressing, but here are some other ways to use it and the best substitutes in those situations:
- As a dipping sauce: Try using homemade ranch, cottage cheese + lemon + dill, ranch powder + yogurt, or tzatziki. Mashed avocados also work, but don’t forget to season them.
- As a marinade: Try using homemade ranch, ranch powder + yogurt, or tzatziki.
- As a condiment: Try using homemade ranch, cottage cheese + lemon + dill, ranch powder + yogurt, or tzatziki. Lemon tahini dressing is also a great dairy-free alternative.
Homemade ranch dressing
What could be a better substitute for store-bought ranch dressing than a homemade version?
Chef John’s recipe calls for a mix of mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, and dried herbs to deliver that creamy, tangy goodness we all love.
But the real game-changer here is Worcestershire sauce. Adding this gives an unexpected yet delightful umami twist that elevates this homemade version.
The only catch? You’ll need to whip this up at least four hours in advance. The wait time allows all those delicious elements to meld and develop.
How to substitute: Replace store-bought ranch dressing in a 1:1 ratio with this homemade ranch dressing.
Cottage cheese + lemon + dill
I didn’t have high hopes for this suggestion initially because I’ve never been a fan of cottage cheese but it was actually really tasty!
The cottage cheese provided a mild, creamy base, while the lemon and dill brought the zesty, herby twist that makes ranch so special.
And it’s much healthier than ranch dressing. Cottage cheese is low on calories, plus it’s loaded with proteins and nutrients like Vitamin B6 and calcium.
Psst… I used my blender to give the mixture a smoother consistency.
I didn’t have any onion powder on hand, but i think a pinch of two of this would make this substitute even more like ranch dressing.
How to substitute: Replace ranch dressing in your recipes in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of cottage cheese, lemon, and dill.
Ranch powder + yogurt
Mixing ranch powder with yogurt is one of my favorite instant substitutes for ranch dressing.
Regular yogurt has fewer calories than mayo (an important ingredient in ranch), but it still provides that creamy mouthfeel you expect from a ranch dressing.
Consider using low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt to make this substitute even healthier.
And for an even more personal touch, you could also make your own ranch seasoning blend!
How to substitute: Replace ranch dressing in a 1:1 ratio with a blend of ranch powder and yogurt.
Tzatziki, a classic Greek dipping sauce, is another fantastic stand-in for ranch dressing.
It’s creamy and tangy, but what makes tzatziki stand out is the addition of grated cucumbers, which give the sauce a refreshing flavor.
Tzatziki is slightly thicker than ranch dressing, but you can easily thin it out with some water or milk.
It goes exceptionally well with Mediterranean-inspired dishes, but you can still use this as a dressing or dipping sauce for virtually anything.
It’s amazing with chicken tenders! Yum.
How to substitute: Replace ranch dressing in a 1:1 ratio with tzatziki.
Looking for a dairy-free alternative to ranch dressing? Try using avocados as the base instead of yogurt or buttermilk.
Simply give your avocados a blitz in the blender along with some plant-based milk to transform them into a thick, creamy liquid you can drizzle over your salads or use as a dipping sauce.
Of course, you’ll also need some seasoning. You can either use powdered ranch, or follow this recipe to make your own ranch seasoning.
Pro-tip: use ripe avocados for a smooth and creamy texture. Underripe avocados are too firm and won’t blend into a creamy substitute.
How to substitute: Replace ranch dressing in a 1:1 ratio with pureed and seasoned avocado.
Lemon tahini dressing
Next up on our list of ranch dressing substitutes is lemon tahini dressing – it’s another dairy-free option.
It’s not an exact flavor match for ranch dressing, but it has a bright, citrusy kick with earthy, nutty notes that tastes delicious on salads.
And it’s creamy just like ranch.
How to substitute: Replace ranch dressing in a 1:1 ratio with lemon tahini dressing.
Dijon mustard + olive oil
Looking for something less creamy to replace ranch? Try a combo of Dijon mustard and olive oil.
Mix in some onion, garlic powder, and your choice of dried herbs, and you have a lighter (slightly spicy from the mustard) version of ranch.
I used one part Dijon for every 2 parts olive oil, but you can add more mustard if you want a tangier bite.
How to substitute: Replace ranch dressing in a 1:1 ratio with a blend of Dijon mustard and olive oil.
Other substitutes to consider
These substitutes are veering away from ranch dressing, but they’re all delicious on salads and they can double as a dipping sauce:
- Caesar dressing – this is creamy like ranch dressing, but it’s more garlicly and savory-forward. You’ll have no difficulty finding a ready-made bottle, but you can also use a homemade version.
- Hummus dressing – hummus is a creamy dip made from chickpeas you can use as is, or add a bit of lemon juice and Dijon mustard to thin it out and make a dairy-free dressing.
- Sweet onion dressing – this is a great option if you want something that leans a bit sweeter than tangy.
- Chipotle dressing – a mayo-based dressing like ranch but with a smoky, mildly spicy twist.
- Vinaigrettes – the base is olive oil and a mild acid like vinegar or lemon. A lighter, zestier alternative for ranch dressing. Examples are Italian dressing and balsamic vinaigrette.
Substitutes to avoid
I encountered these suggestions during my research, so I had to include them in the test.
But after the experiment, it’s safe to say I won’t be recommending them as substitutes for ranch dressing.
- Marinara – this classic Italian sauce is a decent substitute for ranch dressing if you only plan to serve it as a dipping sauce. But it’s tomato based so has no creaminess! And it’s not good as a salad dressing.
- Honey – this sweet ingredient is delicious drizzled over pizza but won’t work as a stand-alone accompaniment for salad – you’ll have to mix this with oil to make a vinaigrette.
12 Best Ranch Dressing Substitutes + 2 To Avoid
- 1⅓ cups mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp minced fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tsp slied fresh chives
- ½ tsp dried dill weed
- ¼ tsp dried tarragon
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 drops Worcestershire sauce
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- a pinch of salt
- Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, and buttermilk in a large bowl. Add in the parsley, chives, dill, tarragon, garlic, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt and Worcestershire sauce. Mix until well combined.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight. Season with salt and black pepper and serve.