Ranch dressing. It’s right up there with salsa and ketchup on the “condiments you probably have in your fridge right now” list. Except…when you don’t eat milk anymore. I’ve gotta be honest, I’ve tried a lot of the commercial options for vegan ranch dressing out there, and they just…well, they’re not right. And there are some other vegan ranch recipes out there, but most are based on vegan mayo, which bumps up the fat calories quite a bit. Or, the ingredients were just “too vegan”, if that makes any sense. And even this recipe is going to seem that way, depending on your comfort level with so-called “vegan” food. If you know what nooch is, you’re comfortable. If you don’t, not to worry, it’s not a huge part of this recipe and you could totally leave it out. Or you could try something new! YOLO, or so I’ve heard. I never expected that I would use the term YOLO on the blog. First time for everything. Probably the last, too.
Anyway…I have tinkered with this recipe long enough. It’s really, really close to how I remember ranch tasting. And I don’t mean the stuff in the bottle, I mean when you go out to a restaurant and they have housemade ranch as a dressing option. And if I may be so bold, I think it tastes even better. Let me put it to you this way. I took a small container of this ranch to a restaurant and dipped my fries in it. It’s worth that effort.
Ranch is really quite simple – you need a creamy, neutral base, some vinegar-y zing, and some seasonings and herbs. Here are the cast of characters for this vegan ranch dressing:
– Savory Cashew Cream (I know, I know, I use it in everything. That’s because it’s AMAZING).
– Tahini (this is the secret weapon)
– Unseasoned rice vinegar (or other unsweetened, mild vinegar, like white wine vinegar)
– Garlic powder, onion powder, salt (we’ll get into why the powder and not fresh)
– Fresh chives and parsley, or your other favorite herbs like dill and/or cilantro (mix it up!)
That’s it! Really! Ok, ok, the savory cashew cream has a very small amount of nutritional yeast (nooch), and just a smidge of miso, and those are definitely not ingredients that are on the Top 3 Condiments list (unless you’re me), but they are worth it and last a long time. You may even find yourself using them for other things, like, say, vegan spinach ricotta. I digress.
Why fresh herbs and powdered seasoning? Great question. I went with the dried garlic and onion because the flavor is a bit muted, and more predictable. Using raw garlic and/or onion is not only risky in terms of the strength of the flavor, but in the lingering taste/odor after hanging out in the fridge for a few days. Fresh herbs, on the other hand, are super important because they taste good, in that they have actual herbacious flavor. Apparently spell check doesn’t think herbacious is a word, but IT IS. I hear chefs on the Food Network say it all the time. HERBACIOUS! Anyway…fresh chives and parsley taste infinitely better than their dried counterparts, so use fresh. It’s worth it.
One caveat regarding the herbs, though. You’re going to be tempted to throw them in the blender along with all of the other ingredients, but don’t. Wait and pulse them in after the dressing base is all blended up. That way they’ll break down just a little bit but won’t turn the dressing green. Ask me how I know.
Tell me that doesn’t look like ranch dressing. Oh, wait, it IS. Time for a taste test! Where’s my lovely hand model?
See how creamy it is, clinging for dear life to the crudite? Little does it know it’s about to get devoured by a very hungry princess/photo assistant.
Every day I love her just a little bit more, and worry that my heart might explode. My little Vida and her way too big princess dress that she loves so much and her ranch-kissed chin. Life is good.
Ok, friends! Hopefully I’ve enticed you to go give this a try! And if you are looking for something on which to douse the dressing, I’ve got you covered.
Buffalo Chickpea Lettuce Wraps, anyone?
Please, pretty please, let me know if you make this recipe! It makes me happier than a french fry dipped in vegan ranch. On Instagram, tag @eatwithinyourmeans and hashtag #eatwithinyourmeans, or simply leave a comment here. I’m good with whatever way you want to say hello!
Romaine calm and lettuce eat vegan ranch dressing. On the romaine lettuce. You get it.
Quit while you’re behind, Beth.
- 1 cup savory cashew cream (see note for alternatives)
- ¾ cup water
- 3 T. tahini paste
- 1 T. unseasoned rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, or other mild unsweetened vinegar***
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1½ tsp. garlic powder or granulated garlic
- 1½ tsp. onion powder
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley, dill, cilantro, or a combination
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives
- Puree all ingredients except fresh herbs in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Add in the fresh herbs and pulse a few times to break down the herbs and mix in. Pureeing the herbs will turn the dressing a pale green color, so be careful not to pulse too much if you want the dressing to look like “traditional” ranch. The mixture will seem thin, but will thicken upon refrigeration.
1¼ cup raw cashews or pepitas*, soaked for at least 1 hour if not using a high speed blender**
1/2 tsp. light miso
2 tsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar, unseasoned rice vinegar, or other mild unsweetened vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
*Boil cashews for 15 minutes in a small saucepan, the drain and proceed with recipe
**Pepitas can be substituted but will lend a pale green color to the dressing. The flavor of the pepitas is stronger than that of cashews, but dissipates some upon refrigeration. This is a great nut-free option!
*** Apple cider vinegar not recommended as the flavor is typically too sweet