Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing Recipe

We've been enjoying our time this week at camp GG's, a name we coined for Grandma and Grandpa's house on the lake in the Midwest. The kids get to spend these endless summer days biking, swimming, water skiing, kayaking, and chasing fireflies at dusk.

I have had a number of requests for a dairy-free ranch dressing recipe. So here it is. I was planning on posting this last Thursday evening, but my lovely sister-in-law went into labor that evening with her third baby. She was helping me with the photos you see here while she was having a few mild contractions. After all of the kids were asleep things picked up quickly and we barely made it to the hospital before she pushed a healthy baby girl out in less than two minutes! Amazing!

I used a buttermilk ranch spice blend from Penzeys Spices in this recipe. You can order it online here. If you want to try and recreate this blend on your own then here are the ingredients: salt, bell peppers, garlic, onion, sugar, black pepper, parsley, thyme, and basil.

This dressing is so tasty that this batch has nearly disappeared in two days! Even the die-hard ranch dressing lovers here have been enjoying it.

Dairy-Free "Buttermilk" Ranch Dressing

This dressing is better after the flavors have had time to meld. Give it about a day and the tartness from the lemon juice will lessen. Use this as a salad dressing over crispy greens topped with summer vegetables or use it as a dip for carrot and celery sticks. Store in the fridge for up to 10 days.

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water
2 to 4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoon Herbamare
1 teaspoon dried dill
cracked black pepper, to taste

Place the cashews, water, and garlic into a blender fitted with a sharp blade or a vita-mix. Blend until very smooth and creamy. Then add in all of the remaining ingredients and blend again until just combined.

Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate overnight. Shake and pour over your favorite salad. Enjoy! :) 

Note: If you don't have the spice mix you can easily add the individual dried herbs to your blender and make an equally delicious dressing (I've done this several times)! Add some garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, dried parsley, dried thyme, and dried basil to your blender with the other ingredients. You can taste and add more of a certain herb if needed. You may need a little extra sea salt too (the spice mix contains salt).

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. can't wait to make this and dip some carrots in it!

  2. Once again, I need a substitute. This time for cashews. I know they are the "cream" for us dairy free people, but a dear friend of mine is off all nuts. Any suggestions? She will LOVE this recipe. A seed perhaps? She can do coconut...
    She and I share discoveries. The latest from her is kale tossed with olive oil, lemon & sea salt roasted at 100 degrees (a pilot light is perfect). Another version is tossed in tahini, salt , olive oil and lemon. Kale chips are SO GOOD!
    Great to hear the news from Camp C-C...begone. I am in Noe Valley, SF for the summer, close to mom.

  3. This looks great! I have the Penzey's mix, but we haven't tested for sugar yet - so I'll try to find a sugar-free version while at the co-op this afternoon.

  4. Ali,
    Woohoo! Woohoo! Woohoo! This is an answer to prayer! My daughter will be dancing in the streets, for sure! Thank you and God bless you!

  5. Thank you Ali for creating this. I have tried the bottled "natural" dairy-free version from the co-op but this looks much healthier and tastier! Can't wait to try it.

  6. Thanks for your comments, Sue - not quite sure how to make this nut-free. Possibly a mix of coconut milk and tahini or soaked sunflower seeds? I have had kale chips before and they are addicting!

    I have made this before without the Penzeys mix and the dressing just isn't the same. I don't think I added all of the ingredients they use in the blend though.

    Hope you all enjoy! :)

  7. Once I started making my own dressing, I'd never buy it again. Actually, for years, I couldn't find anything I liked and, being a little lazy, just used a good olive oil, fresh ground sea salt, and pepper.

  8. Hi Ali, I made this dressing and it was very good the first day and then the second day the flavor was excellent! You know how some things are even better on the second or third day - this was! Thanks - I had always loved buttermilk ranch dressing, and it is good to be able to have a similar (but better)dressing again!

  9. This looks wonderful. I've been drying herbs like crazy lately and just happen to have some freshly dried dill. I don't have the Penzey's mix, but know just where I can get some. Thanks, Ali! Enjoy camp time!


  10. Amy - I hear you, once I began makng my own dressings I could never buy anything pre-made. Oil and vinegar or lemon juice are about as basic as you get, without sacrificing on flavor! :)

    Deb - Thanks, this dressing is sort of like a good pot of chili, it just gets better on day two or three. Glad you enjoyed! :)

    Melissa - How fun to be herb drying right now. My girls have so much fun harvesting food and storing it for winter.

    Happy Summer! -Ali :)

  11. This looks really great. I love using cashews as a dairy-replacement but never thought of using them in salad dressing. I used to love Ranch dressing as a kid - I would love to make this healthy dairy-free version.
    thanks so much

  12. I've been looking for a homemade ranch dressing. This looks like a wonderfully healthy option! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. It looks so creamy!

  13. I was wondering if anything could be used in place of the lemon juice? I'm doing the elimination diet and just realized I believe I have an intolerance to citrus, which deeply saddens me. Thanks so much!

  14. Jennifer - I would try adding 2 extra tablespoons apple cider vinegar + 2 tablespoons of water to replace the 1/4 cup lemon juice. This is my best guess, please let me know what you think. :)

    Sarah and Lauren - I see I didn't respond to you - thanks for your comments! BTW - I have found that this dressing becomes even creamier if you soak the cashews in water for a few hours then drain off the soaking water. :)

  15. I made this dressing recipe this morning. I served it to my family for dinner tonight and got rave reviews! I was looking for a dairy-free ranch style dressing recipe for my 8 yo son who is dairy-allergic. I used to make my grandmother's southern parmesan-peppercorn ranch recipe and am thrilled to find one that we all enjoy now, dairy-free. I love penzeys spices and was happy to see you use them too! One more note, I decided to soak the cashews overnight like you suggested in the comment. Thanks again. I am looking forward to trying out more recipes on your lovely blog.
    Lisa (LA)

  16. I know this is old recipe but was wondering if Penzey's is gluten free ?!! thanks--I would love it if this could work for me--just had a new baby and am off dairy once again while nursing and I miss my ranch.

  17. I have a kidlet who eats casein free and ranch dressing is one thing I haven't figured out how to replicate in a way he can eat it. Thanks for taking the guess work out for me and I can't wait to try it! Bookmarking this Now! :>

  18. Thanks so much! This is a great recipe. The only thing that concerns me is the amount of fat (I'm assuming it's fairly high fat due to the cashews and olive). Is there a way to reduce that? Could you make this without the olive oil? Or cut down on the cashews?

    I absolutely love the taste, and have made it once already. I do have highish cholesterol so I'm trying to watch my fat intake.

  19. I am very excited to make this, have a Question, of what is Herbamare? I purchased the Penzeys butermilk ranch dressing, but I guess my recipe I printed says Herbamare! help confused!

  20. I make this dressing at least once a week, from your recipe your cookbook and we LOVE it! I have tried various ranch dresings and I hate to say it, but none of them could get me off of "Hidden Valley" (aaack! I know!) until this one. Not that it tasted like HV, just that it is soooo good!
    :-) For us, the 4 cloves of garlic here would be too much, but 2 is just right. I add dill, basil, thyme and marjoram instead of Penzey's.


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)