Which brand is best for your dipping and spreading? There’s only one way to find out.
We don’t just use the creamy white dressing for our vegetables. We use it as a dip for our pizza, wings, chips, cheese curds and egg rolls; as a marinade for meats to throw on the grill; and as a topping for nachos, burgers, wraps, sandwiches and potato skins. Tribune staff did a blind taste test of 14 brands of bottled, shelf-stable plain ranch dressings, avoiding ones found in the refrigerated section. See the results here, listed from worst to best.
14. Walden Farms Calorie Free Ranch Dressing
"This tastes like straight up chemicals mixed with dirty water," one taster wrote about Walden Farms, the last-place finisher.
The consistency was watery and thin, and the dressing smelled like paint or a public pool. Many complained of a dirty water or chemical flavor, but one optimistically said that it could be the kind of ranch used for bagged iceberg lettuce or a cheap banquet salad.
"This would make anyone hate ranch, even ranch lovers," one wrote.
$3.99, 12 ounces
13. Annie’s Naturals Cowgirl Ranch Dressing
Participants were not kind to Annie’s dressing. "I literally gagged," one wrote.
Tasters hated the consistency, saying that it was too watery and looked "oddly gray, drab and sad." It smelled like feet or sweat and tasted like bad cheese with a powdery aftertaste, they said.
"This is maybe the grossest one. I couldn’t taste it again," one wrote.
$3.29, 8 ounces
12. Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Ranch
Made with avocado oil and eggs, Sir Kensington’s is gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and seasoned with mustard extract, black pepper, garlic and onion.
It was the most expensive bottle of ranch included in this taste test. Nevertheless, tasters did not enjoy it. Describing its flavor as like lemon Pledge or poppyseed dressing, tasters complained that this ranch was too salty, cloyingly sweet and acidic.
"This is super gross," one taster wrote.
$7.69, 9 ounces
11. O Organics Ranch Organic Dressing
While O Organics ranch dressing from Jewel-Osco evoked childhood memories for one taster, others complained that it tasted like spoiled dairy with an overpowering tartness. Another complained that it smelled like fish or mayo, neither of which were what they wanted in a ranch dressing, and that it was too sweet.
$3.29, 12 ounces
10. Daiya Homestyle Ranch Dressing
Daiya’s ranch was dairy-, gluten-, soy- and egg-free. One taster said that despite being strangely sweet, the dressing had texture and flavor profiles one would expect from ranch dressing. Another participant wrote that though the dressing looked cheap, it tasted better than expected. But many complained that it tasted chalky and smelled like cheese. Another said it simply tasted weird, while one taster picked up mango and coconut flavors.
"It tastes wrong," one participant said.
$4.99, 8.36 ounces
9. Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing
With a runny consistency and evident spices, Newman’s was super sweet and sour with a chemical note. Some said it tasted like a factory, and others complained it was too citrusy, almost like an AirHead candy.
Another taster said that it tasted like cheap pickles.
$4.39, 16 ounces
8. 365 Organic Ranch Dressing
Tasters praised this 365 ranch from Whole Foods for it's not-too-thick, not-too-thin consistency and said it hit the tangy and sour notes that they looked for in a good ranch dressing. However, multiple people said it tasted less like ranch and more like Caesar dressing, writing that the flavor was off and totally unbalanced.
One taster said it was "pretending it's ranch," but others said it may be good on salad, pizza or fries.
$3.99, 16 ounces
7. Simply Balanced Organic Ranch Dressing
This ultra-thick, Target-brand dressing had a strong, garlicky scent and a super thick consistency.
"This tastes like ranch I grew up eating," one taster said, complimenting it for its vinegar profile and calling it the "ideal carrot dip."
But other participants had issues with it tasting too much like mayo and not enough like ranch, saying that the flavor was too mellow.
$2.87, 12 ounces
6. Wish-Bone Ranch Dressing
This is the kind of ranch dressing that one taster would serve to vegetable-averse children to convince them that vegetables are good. It could also be a good complement to cheese curds, but most tasters complained that Wish-Bone was oddly sweet without any tang or herb flavors.
Tasters said this was a lighter style and looked cheap on a table.
$2.49, 15 ounces
5. Trader Joe’s Organic Ranch Dressing
For people who want a dressing that is on the sweeter end and without that tangy zip, this is the one for you. Although it had an egg-forward flavor and a thinner consistency than others, tasters complained that it "lacked something to tie it together."
Another went as far as to say "this is absolutely not ranch. I refuse to accept it." A more optimistic taster said it had potential if served with fries.
$2.79, 16 ounces
4. Ken’s Steak House Ranch Dressing
"Unremarkable, but gets the job done without messing it up," one commenter said.
Ken’s Steak House also received compliments for its rich flavor, consistency and appearance. Although one taster said she would dip her pizza in this ranch, another participant said it reminded him of the ranch from the salad bar in middle school.
"It’s a little boring," one said.
$3.49, 16 ounces
3. Tuscan Garden Ranch Dressing
The most common praise for this Aldi-brand ranch dressing was the consistency, which is thicker than most of its competitors. Participants said Tuscan Garden would be good on fries and wings and has a creamy flavor that reminded them of buttermilk.
But some complained that it was too sweet, almost like ranch candy, and had a strange aftertaste.
$1.49, 16 ounces
2. Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing
Although Kraft Classic didn't receive marks as high as the winner, tasters were pleased with its balanced flavor and called it "generic and inoffensive" with a great consistency and pleasant, egglike aroma.
However, others said it tasted cheap, like a grocery store brand, and one taster complained that the consistency was too thick for a dressing.
$3, 16 ounces
1. Hidden Valley The Original Ranch
Hidden Valley's The Original Ranch is proof that sometimes, the original really is the best.
Tasters loved this one for its creamy texture, strong tang and peppery flavor. One commenter said this would go perfectly with pizza, and another said that the more she tasted it, the more she grew to like it. Another participant accurately called it "classic," and another said "it tastes like ranch and makes me happy."
$2.49, 16 ounces