Ranch Dressing Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

lettuce wedge with ranch dressing

 Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

Ranch salad dressing is the most popular salad dressing in the United States, according to data compiled by industry analysts. The dressing is made from ingredients such as salt, garlic, onion, mustard, chives, parsley and dill, mayonnaise, and buttermilk. It has been the best-selling salad dressing in the U.S. since 1992.

Ranch dressing is often used on salads. But in restaurants and in homes across America, it is also used as a dip, as an accompaniment for french fries, and as a flavoring for mashed potatoes, and other starchy foods.

Ranch dressing can be purchased bottled, made from a powdered mix, or it can be made at home with fresh ingredients. The way that you make (or buy) ranch dressing can change the calorie content and nutritional profile. Some varieties of the dressing can provide some vitamin K, but many of these store-bought brands are relatively high in fat, sodium, and calories.

Ranch Dressing Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for a two-tablespoon (30g) serving of ranch dressing.

  • Calories: 129
  • Fat: 13.4g
  • Sodium: 270mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1.8g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 1.4g
  • Protein: 0.4g

Carbs

A two-tablespoon serving of ranch dressing contains 129 calories and less than 1.8 grams of carbohydrates. There is no fiber in ranch dressing, but there are 1.4 grams of sugar.

It should be noted that the typical serving size of dressing can vary. Few people measure dressing before adding it to a salad. And when you order salad in a restaurant, more than two tablespoons may be added to an entree or side salad to enhance the flavor. If you use ranch dressing as a dip, it may be very difficult to measure the actual amount that you consume, especially if you are sharing dip with others.

There may also be a variation in the nutrition based on the brand of ranch dressing that you buy. Nutrition facts for Hidden Valley Ranch are very similar to those provided by the USDA. But Hidden Valley Ranch makes several varieties of ranch dressing and there are other brands made with yogurt or other ingredients.

The nutritional information below is provided for a two-tablespoon serving of each product, according to each brand's product label. You'll notice that there is substantial variation between some brands. A ranch dressing that says "light" or "fat-free" may not necessarily be lower in calories and fat as compared to other brands of regular dressing. Always read labels thoroughly to find the dressing that works best for you.

  • Bolthouse Farms Classic Ranch Dressing provides 45 calories, 3g of fat, 280mg of sodium, 3g of carbohydrates, and 1g of protein.
  • Healthy Choice Power Dressing Creamy Ranch provides 45 calories, 1.5g of fat, 260mg of sodium, 7g of carbohydrates, and less than one gram of protein.
  • Hidden Valley Ranch Light Buttermilk dressing provides 70 calories, 5g of fat, 310mg of sodium, 3g of carbohydrates, and 1g of protein.
  • Hidden Valley Ranch Restaurant-Style Dressing (made from a packet according to instructions with one cup mayonnaise and one cup buttermilk) provides 65 calories, 5.2g of fat, 247mg of sodium, 5.3g of carbohydrates, and 0.6g of protein.
  • Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing provides 100 calories, 11g of fat, 280mg of sodium, 2g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein.
  • Kraft Fat-Free Ranch Dressing provides 50 calories, 0g of fat, 220mg of sodium, 11g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein.
  • Litehouse Homestyle Ranch Dressing provides 120 calories, 12g of fat, 230mg of sodium, 2g of carbohydrates, and 1g of protein.
  • Marie's Ranch Yogurt Dressing provides 70 calories, 7g of fat, 180mg of sodium, 2g of carbohydrates, and 1g of protein.
  • Marzetti Simply Dressed Ranch Dressing provides 110 calories, 12 grams of fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, and 1gram of protein.

There is no recorded glycemic index for ranch dressing. But since the food contains very little carbohydrates it is likely to be very low.

Fats

There are 13.4 grams of fat in regular ranch dressing. About 2.1 grams is saturated fat. About 2.8 grams are monounsaturated fat and 7.7 grams are polyunsaturated fat. Lighter varieties of ranch dressing may provide between 3–7 grams of fat. There are also some brands of fat-free ranch dressing available.

Protein

A single serving of ranch dressing is not a significant source of protein, with most brands providing about one gram. Making your dressing at home with greek yogurt can increase the amount of protein in the dressing.

Vitamins and Minerals

A single serving of ranch dressing does not contribute many substantial vitamins or minerals, except for vitamin K. The primary ingredient in some bottled ranch dressings is often canola oil—a good source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is one of four fat-soluble vitamins that is absorbed along with dietary fat and can be stored in the body's fatty tissue.

A single serving of bottled ranch dressing provides about 40.3 micrograms of vitamin K, according to USDA data. The recommended daily intake for adult men is 120 mcg and for women is 90 mcg.

Ranch dressing made with other ingredients may not provide the same amount of vitamin K. If you use mayonnaise and buttermilk to make your own ranch dressing, you'll benefit from a small amount of vitamin K, but it is likely to be less than what you'd get from bottled dressing, approximately 22 mcg (from a tablespoon of mayonnaise).

Health Benefits

The vitamin K in ranch dressing may provide some health benefits. There is also some evidence that fresh ingredients used to make fresh ranch dressing, like garlic, and fresh or dried herbs, may also provide some health benefits.

Strong Bones

Vitamin K is important for strong bones. If you are deficient in vitamin K, you are at a higher risk for osteoporosis. There is some research on postmenopausal women that has suggested that vitamin K supplementation can improve bone health.

But getting the nutrient from food may allow you to benefit from other nutrients. For example, if you put ranch dressing on a salad made with green leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach, you'll boost your vitamin K intake and gain some calcium and other micronutrients.

May Protect Cardiovascular Health

There is some limited evidence that low blood levels of vitamin K may increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Some research suggests that when there is not enough vitamin K, the blood vessels that feed the heart become stiffer and narrower. But more research is needed to understand the relationship and much of the current research is investigating the role of vitamin K supplements.

May Reduce the Risk of Vitamin K Deficiency

Vitamin K deficiency in adults is very rare. But severe cases of deficiency can lead to bleeding and hemorrhage or reduce boned mineralization leading to osteoporosis. Consuming foods with vitamin K can help ensure that you get the amount that your body needs to function properly.

May Help Increase Veggie Intake

Current dietary guidelines recommend that those who consume 2000 calories per day should eat 2.5 cups of vegetables every day. But USDA surveys have found that the average American only consumes about 1.4 cups of vegetables per day.

Putting a dip or salad dressing on veggies is one way to make them more palatable. While ranch dressing is not the most nutritious choice, it is the most popular topping for greens and other veggies. For some finicky eaters, it may help them reach their recommended intake of vegetables.

Other Potential Benefits

The ingredients that you use to make your own ranch dressing may provide some benefits. For example, garlic has been used in different cultures for years for its medicinal qualities. And researchers are investigating the way that different compounds in garlic might be able to reduce the risk for cardiovascular diseases. It may also have anti-tumor and anti-microbial effects and provides benefits to reduce high blood glucose concentration. 

But these benefits are not yet confirmed by strong scientific evidence, nor do researchers know how much garlic you'd have to consume to gain these advantages. Other herbs such as dill or onion may also provide some limited benefits.

Allergies

Those with milk or dairy allergy should not consume dairy products including milk, mayonnaise, or buttermilk. Most ranch dressings (bottled, powdered mixes, and homemade) contain one of these ingredients. Symptoms of a dairy allergy include rashes, hives, itching, swelling, and may become more severe including trouble breathing, wheezing, or loss of consciousness.

Also those allergic to soy or egg should also check ingredients before choosing a ranch dressing. Eggs are used to make mayonnaise, a key ingredient in most ranch recipes. And soybean oil may be used as a primary ingredient in some bottled varieties.

Adverse Effects

If you take a blood thinner like Coumadin (warfarin), vitamin K can interfere with the anticoagulant effects of your medication. It is usually advised to maintain a consistent intake of vitamin K while on anticoagulants so your doctor can prescribe the right dosage of medication based on your typical eating habits.

Vitamin K may also interfere with other medications, including bile acid sequestrants (to lower blood cholesterol levels), certain antibiotics, or the weight loss drug orlistat (alli and Xenical). If you are on any medication, it is always smart to speak to your healthcare provider about any dietary changes you need to make.

If you are watching your salt intake, you may want to be cautious about consuming ranch dressing. While it is not one of the higher sodium salad dressings, some brands contain as much as 300 milligrams of sodium or more.

The American Heart Association suggests that we consume no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. They suggest that an ideal limit is no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults, especially for those with high blood pressure.  So with just a small amount of dressing, you'd be getting 10% –20% of your daily intake depending on your sodium intake goal. In addition, many foods that we eat with ranch dressing (such as wings, french fries, or some salads) are also high in sodium.

If you have lactose intolerance you may develop symptoms if you consume ranch dressing. Symptoms may include nausea, cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. And lastly, most popular brands of ranch dressing, such as Hidden Valley, are gluten-free. But it is always smart to check the label before you buy if you are following a gluten-free diet.

Varieties

If you visit the salad dressing aisle of your supermarket, you are likely to see countless varieties of ranch dressing on the shelves. You'll see spicy ranch dressing, cucumber ranch dressing, bacon ranch, avocado ranch, dill ranch, and more. There are also some brands that make dairy-free ranch dressing.

If you're looking to cut fat or calories, you'll find low-fat ranch dressings and fat-free ranch dressings. However, you should check the nutrition facts label and ingredients list on these products. Some contain ingredients such as corn syrup to maintain a creamy texture. And while there may be no fat, the dressing may provide nearly as many calories as one of the full-fat varieties.

If you prefer to make your own dressing at home, some brands make powdered mixes so you don't have to provide your own herbs. You simply add your own liquid ingredients, such as milk, buttermilk, mayonnaise, yogurt, or sour cream.

When It’s Best

Ranch dressing is available all year long in supermarkets.

Storage and Food Safety

Once it is opened, a bottle of ranch dressing should be kept in the refrigerator. Packages will provide a sell-by date on the package and the product should be consumed within three weeks of that date. Usually, commercial salad dressing is good for 1–3 months if refrigerated after opening. Ranch dressing does not freeze well. If you make your own salad dressing at home, refrigerate it, and consume it within two weeks.

How to Prepare

You can make your own ranch-style dressing at home with your favorite fresh ingredients. Simply combine a cup of regular milk, low-fat milk, fat-free milk or buttermilk with a cup of mayonnaise. Then add fresh garlic, dill, chives, tarragon or your favorite herbs. You can also use garlic or onion powder and dried herbs if you don't have fresh herbs on hand. Once the ingredients are mixed, refrigerate for an hour or so to let the flavors blend.

Drizzle ranch dressing on a bed of fresh greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other veggies. Or use the dressing as a dipping sauce for crunchy veggies like carrots, peppers, or celery. You can top your baked potato with ranch dressing, use it as a dipping sauce for buffalo wings, or even brush a bit of ranch dressing onto corn on the cob. Ranch dressing adds a creamy, savory flavor to whatever food you add it to.

Recipes

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