Drizzled over salad or served as a dip for dunking spicy wings or crisp crudité, ranch dressing is a favorite. It’s thick and creamy with a slight sour tanginess that makes it perfect for just about any dish, including pizza. Ranch is the King of dipping sauces.
If you order pizza delivery or get takeout, you can be sure they will include some ranch dressing. But have you ever wondered where the trend of eating Ranch on everything came from? And why do people love ranch on pizza so much? We know it can’t just be happening here in Minnesota.
Well, we decided to do a deep dive right into a big bowl of ranch and see if we can learn more about America’s favorite dipping sauce.
What is Ranch Dressing?
It’s thick and creamy and filled with an herby fresh taste, ranch dressing is made with a creamy base of equal parts mayonnaise, sour cream, and buttermilk with a mix of herbs. You can find it on any supermarket shelves; from your basic bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch to specialty artisanal versions, ranch dressing isn’t hard to find.
Where Does Ranch Dressing Come From?
Like many things, ranch salad dressing was a happy accident. A plumber named Steve Hensen created the first ranch recipe sometime in the mid-1950s when the Californian health craze was just getting started. People were looking to eat more greens, and the organic food market was just getting going.
So Steve created this dressing at his Californian ranch called, you guessed it, Hidden Valley. His friends and family that would visit him on the ranch loved it so much that they would ask him to bottle it so they could take it with them.
Years later, in 1972, the Clorox company bought the Hidden Valley brand and messed with the recipe a bit before putting it on the shelves of grocery stores worldwide.
It is hard to pinpoint exactly when ranch and pizza became the powerhouse duo that it is today. It probably started with breadsticks and dipping sauce.
Pizza Hut was the first chain to serve breadsticks and dipping sauce, although it was a marinara sauce. Then Little Caesars started selling Crazy Bread with Crazy Sauce. Later, Papa John’s began selling a dipping sauce specifically for pizza that was a buttery, garlicky sauce.
Then, in 1994, Domino’s Pizza started selling chicken wings with a side of ranch. It was intended as an add-on item to your regular pizza order. And we can only imagine that hungry diners started dipping their pizza in the leftover ranch after the wings were long gone.
Then finally, in 2005 Pizza Hut introduced Dipping Strips with ranch. These were dippable pizza strips served with a side of ranch. And somewhere along the way, marketers realized they could upsell dipping sauces as an extra and started offering them.
Now it is pretty common and acceptable to pair pizza with ranch, and most pizzerias offer it as a dipping sauce among other popular pizza dipping sauces like blue cheese, barbecue, and buffalo sauce.
Why Do People Love Ranch On Pizza?
It’s that contrast of flavors that makes it a treat for the tastebuds. Popular pizzas with spicy pepperoni, smoky sausage, salty Canadian bacon, or crunchy peppers and onions dipped in a creamy, tangy ranch make an excellent flavor contrast.
Plus, once diners finish their slice with the toppings and are left with a bready crust, it makes sense to give it some flavor and dip it in some ranch.
How to Make Your Own Ranch Dipping Sauce
Ranch dressing is easy to make, and once you make your own, you will be kicking yourself that you haven’t made it at home before. The key to making a good ranch dressing at home is to use fresh herbs and make it right before you plan to use it. You can store it for a few days, but it doesn’t freeze well at all.
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup mayo
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons fresh chives
- 2 Tablespoons Italian parsley
- 3-4 cloves of grated garlic
- Pinch or two of salt
- Freshly ground pepper
Some recipes for Ranch leave out the buttermilk, but it’s what makes it creamy with that velvety texture. If you do not want to buy a whole container of buttermilk to just use for ranch dressing, you can make a buttermilk substitute.
- 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 cup of milk
Use a measuring spoon to measure out one tablespoon of vinegar and pour it into a 1 cup measuring cup. Fill the rest with milk and let sit for five minutes. Voila, you have buttermilk.
Fresh herbs make homemade ranch the best version of ranch dressing. We keep a little indoor herb garden, but if you don’t have one or any fresh herbs on hand, then dried ones will work.
Every time you buy green onions or spring onions, cut them an inch and a half from the root and place the roots in a cup of water on a windowsill. The green parts will grow back, and you can have an endless supply of green chives.
Sometimes we remember to plant them in the dirt, but many times they just stay in the water in the cup and keep giving the gift of fresh green chives.
Variations of Ranch on Pizza
Since ranch dressing is so popular, you know that creativity is off the charts, and there are a lot of different versions of ranch dressing. So if you love ranch on pizza, try some different styles and see what you think.
- Sriracha ranch
- Cucumber ranch
- Garlic ranch
- Buffalo ranch
- Chipotle ranch
- Ranch with avocado
- Habanero ranch
What is your favorite type of Ranch on pizza? Have you tried making your own?