Flavored with zesty herbs, pungent garlic, and a punch of pepper, the condiment known simply as "ranch" most often takes the form of a dressing or a dip, often mixed with some combination of sour cream, mayonnaise, yogurt, and buttermilk. This magical combination of flavors came to be in the 1950s, when a man named Steve Henson came up with the powdered mix, which he and his wife later served to guests at their ranch. It got so popular that producing it became their main business, and the rest is history.
Ranch is now so much more than just a dressing mix. The flavor is something of its own entity, showing up in food products from chips to beverages (believe it or not, an official Hidden Valley Ranch-flavored eggnog hit the market a few years ago) -- even Ranch-flavored ice cream. There's just something undeniably delicious about the blend of dried dill, parsley, chives, garlic, black pepper, and buttermilk powder. Whether you make your own mix or buy store-bought packets, there's really no end to what this seasoning can do. Here are some of its most delicious uses -- so grab some and get ranching.
Toss With Popcorn
It's hard to improve on the pure goodness of popcorn dressed with just the right amount of butter and salt. But leave it to ranch to add the perfect punch of flavor to this otherwise ideal snack. The next time you're making a big batch for movie night, or are just looking for a more flavorful popcorn fix, sprinkle some ranch seasoning on the popped and buttered kernels and give them a good toss for even distribution. (And if you sneak a packet of ranch into the movie theater, we won't tell anyone.)
Make A Sandwich Spread
If you're bored with your usual sandwich condiments, you can easily pump them full of flavor by adding a little bit of ranch seasoning. Mixing some of the dried powder into mayonnaise makes for the perfect cooling, creamy spread. Add it to mustard for extra zip and tang, or to ketchup to brighten up its fruity sweetness. Or mix all three to make your own extra-herby special sauce. From Reubens to burgers to Italian subs, ranch is right at home on any sandwich.
Rim A Bloody Mary
Flavoring the rim of a Bloody Mary cocktail is a great way to add extra pizazz to the drink. Celery salt is traditional, sometimes pepper too, and chili powder if you like things extra spicy. But if you've got ranch seasoning on hand, you'll be absolutely floored by how perfectly the flavors compliment this classic recipe. The herb and allium mixture matches up perfectly with the savory character of the drink, adding that little boost of intensity to every sip.
Liven Up Breading Mix
Anything you can bread and bake or fry can be ranchified -- all you need to do is add some of the iconic seasoning into the breading mixture. It's an easy move that can take otherwise bland or underwhelming food and ratchet up its flavor in one step. Ranch's herbs and spices complement so many vegetables that take well to breaded preparations, like mushrooms, zucchini, and onions. It also makes a great coating addition to proteins, like in this recipe for Baked Ranch Chicken.
Sprinkle On French Fries
You don't need to use a dipping sauce in order to get ranch flavor for your french fries. Instead of seasoning them with plain old salt, sprinkle them with ranch seasoning. It's like getting the fries and condiment in one simple package. But if you're a real fanatic, you can always double up the intensity by both seasoning and dipping. Keep in mind that store-bought ranch mix usually contains a decent amount of salt, so you may not need to add any more.
Stir Into Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are the perfect backdrop for bright and herby flavors. Their creamy, rich texture and mild flavor lets the zingy taste of ranch sing, and adding the dried seasoning mix to them is quicker and easier than chopping and mincing fresh garlic, onions, and herbs. Ranch is great for upgrading instant mash from a box, but you can also add it to gourmet hand-mashed potatoes -- it's a taste booster either way. The powdered buttermilk in ranch mix adds to the dish's creaminess while also providing a subtle tang.
Mix Into Burger Meat
Take your burgers to another level by mixing the meat with ranch seasoning instead of basic salt and pepper. While ranch dressing or dip can be used as a burger topping, when you mix the dried seasoning itself into the patties, you get a burst of herbaceous intensity in every bite. Ranch brightens up beef burgers, and it's just as good in alternative patties like turkey, chicken, salmon, and all types of veggie burgers.
Dust Atop Fresh Vegetables
Ranch dressing is made for salads, so it makes sense that ranch seasoning works well with vegetables. Adding a dusting of dried ranch powder over sliced vegetables is an easy way to add flavor without overpowering their fresh flavors, and without adding extra fat from the dairy-based dressing or dip. Ranch's herby zip is particularly delicious with bright juicy summer vegetables like cucumber and tomato, as the seasoning melds with the veggies' natural liquid, flavoring them from the inside out. Adding ranch is a great way to make healthy vegetables more enticing.
Add To Potato Salad
Potato salad can be delightfully rich, pleasantly starchy, and creamy, but if it's not well-seasoned, it can come off as bland. A little bit of ranch can change that. Whether it's the classic American mayo-based style or a tangy vinegar-laced German potato salad, ranch works as an effective flavoring. Dill is made to match with potato dishes, and its freshness really pops in cold preparations like salads. The addition of fresh herbs like parsley and chives, in addition to the seasoning powder, will give ranch potato salad even more herbal complexity.
Amp Up Marinades
If you want an easy way to ramp up a weeknight dinner, all you need is some protein, liquid, and ranch seasoning. The herbs and spices in ranch are like a cheat code when it comes to flavoring mild proteins like chicken, fish, pork, and tofu. A little time soaking in a ranch marinade is all a cut of meat needs to get good and seasoned, with a kick of garlic and herbs that's versatile enough to go with any meal. It's flavorful, but not overpowering, and you can adjust its intensity by how much time you let your protein bathe in the marinade.
Give Garlic Bread A Boost
If you enjoy garlic bread, you're most likely already a fan of garlic. And one easy way to amplify the garlic flavor of your bread even more is to season it with ranch. Not only will it add an extra level of allium goodness, but it's also got all those other dried herbs to bring more depth and dimension, as well as buttermilk powder for a creamier texture. Take your favorite garlic bread recipe, add some ranch seasoning into the butter mixture to taste, or just sprinkle some over the top when it comes out of the oven and enjoy the explosion of flavor.
Make Ranch Butter
What can't ranch butter do? With a little kick from the herbs and spices of the seasoning mix, butter becomes a flavor delivery system for just about anything you can think of. Put a pat on top of a grilled steak or pork chop and let the richness and tanginess melt over it. Spread it on toast for a savory morning treat. Use it in baked goods, like quiche crusts. Just mix a little ranch powder into softened butter, and keep it refrigerated or frozen until the mood strikes. You'll be able to upgrade the flavor of any food in an instant.
Mix Into Scrambled Eggs
Luscious, creamy scrambled eggs don't need much to improve them. Usually, just a little salt and maybe some pepper does the trick. But if you're looking for a zippier breakfast, use ranch powder instead of salt (or in addition to it, we won't judge) to season your scramble. Fresh herbs are always a great garnish for this dish, but it's hard to beat the convenience of getting the flavors of multiple herbs and spices in one dash like you can with ranch.
Stir Into Soup
Whether you are finding your homemade soup bland or are looking to jazz up something from a can, ranch is there to help. A little dash of ranch stirred into soup can be just what it needs to get to the next level of flavor. Thanks to ranch's versatility, it fits right in with all types of soups. It gives creamy bisques and rich potato soups a well-needed zing, and lighter broths a touch more texture and spice. Throw some in a cold soup like gazpacho for a real pop of flavor.
Sprinkle Over Corn On The Cob
Corn on the cob is one of those vegetables that screams summer. While fresh corn certainly doesn't need much to improve its natural sweetness and snappy texture, you can elevate your cobs just right flavor-wise with a few deftly applied sprinkles of ranch. Of course, you'll want to make sure the corn is slathered with butter or oil first, so the seasoning has something to stick to, and you'll instantly have a flavor-packed veggie side dish perfect for any cookout.
Use As Dry Rub
It may not be marketed as such, but ranch seasoning works perfectly as a dry rub for meat. Before you get grilling, griddling, frying, or roasting, massage some ranch onto the protein to add an extra layer of zesty flavor. The subtle herbal kick gives a welcome bright and savory boost to white meat, dark meat, beef, game, seafood, you name it. And ranch is mild enough as a dry rub that its flavors will appeal to a wide variety of even the pickiest eaters, great if you've got a grill going for a hungry group.
Mix Into Mac And Cheese
Carbs, fat, and flavor -- mac and cheese has it all, perhaps more than any other dish out there. But without proper seasoning, it can taste a little bit one-note and overly rich. A quick and easy way to remedy this enviable problem is the simple addition of ranch. You can mix the powder into the sauce to let it infuse every bite of the entire dish. If you want it to be more of a subtle accent, you can instead sprinkle it on. Mix it in with breadcrumbs and layer them over the whole dish for a crunchy, flavorful topping. Ranch seasoning is one of the simplest ways you can make boxed mac and cheese a little more interesting.
Punch Up Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is the perfect side for picnics, beach trips, and backyard barbecues. There are an infinite number of variations on the dish, but virtually any of them can be boosted by a hit of ranch seasoning to turn up the flavor volume. To make sure the ranch is evenly distributed, it's best to mix the seasoning powder into the dressing before you toss the pasta, veggies, and other ingredients together. And make sure to do that while the pasta is still warm for maximum flavor.
Top Avocado Toast
Avocado toast can be as simple or as ornate as you want to make it. The nice thing about avocado is its mild flavor, which allows it to mesh well with all kinds of different ingredients. So you can make avocado toast fresh and simple, hot and spicy, meaty and rich, or with the help of ranch seasoning, herbal and bright. Sprinkle it over slices or mix it into the mashed fruit. And no matter what other toppings you use to grace your toast, ranch will complement them beautifully.
Season Plain Rice
Rice is a staple of most worldwide cuisines, and for good reason. It's filling, economical, and easy to prepare. Unfortunately, if you don't season it properly, it's also boring. You can add plain salt, but using a packet of ranch seasoning instead makes plain rice so much for flavorful. Fresh herbs and alliums are great too, but throwing in a spoonful of ranch powder is hard to beat for how easy it is.
Zest Up Tuna Salad
Fresh herbal flavors pair beautifully with tuna, bringing out the brightness of the seafood. That makes ranch the perfect seasoning for tuna salad. It adds a dimension of zest and zip that you can't get by just using fresh herbs -- ideally, you want to add those too, for maximum flavor. But if you don't have them on hand, ranch is there to come to the rescue. Give new life to tuna melts and cold sandwiches. Or just scoop ranch tuna salad on top of greens, and it's like a dressing and topping in one.
Pep Up Deviled Eggs
You can't beat classic deviled eggs as a hand-held party snack. The traditional recipe is fairly simple: cooked egg yolks mashed and mixed with mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, and dill, and garnished with paprika. If you don't want to mess with that definitive formula too much, and why would you, you can put a flavorful spin on it by using ranch seasoning. The dill flavor is still there, partnered with extra herby flavors, and along with that you get the pungent garlic and onion flavor as well as creamy tang from buttermilk powder. These deviled eggs are guaranteed to pack a flavor punch at any party.
Flavor Roasted Nuts
Roasted nuts are a satisfying and healthy snack to have on hand, full of fiber and good fats. According to Mayo Clinic, adding salt or other seasonings compromises their benefits somewhat, but they can still be confidently enjoyed in moderation. If you're looking to pep up your nuts with zesty, savory flavor, it's easy. Take raw nuts and drizzle them with oil, sprinkle or toss them with ranch seasoning, and brown them in the oven. You can even toast nuts in the microwave to save time.
Add Zip To Hummus
Hummus, made primarily from chickpeas and tahini, is that rare kind of dip that's both delicious and good for you. Mixing ranch seasoning into it won't boost its nutritional properties, but it will add an extra layer of savory, herbaceous flavor. Buying pre-made hummus and spicing it up with ranch powder is the easiest way to try this flavorful food, but you can make your own creamy hummus easily with a food processor or blender. Sprinkle ranch on top, too, for even more tangy zip.
Make Ranch Bagel Schmear
Alliums and herbs, like garlic, chives, and dill, are commonly found in bagel schmear. These bright ingredients contrast nicely with the richness of cream cheese and the chewy, dense texture of the bagel itself. So why not throw them all together using one catch-all seasoning? Mixing ranch with cream cheese makes a flavor-packed schmear that's good on every type of savory bagel -- garlic, onion, salt and pepper, everything, or just plain. Toasted or untoasted, that's up to you. Ranch schmear is equally delicious on both. Or, if you're making a bagel sandwich, use it as a spread.
Create Your Own Cool Ranch Chips
Cool Ranch Doritos, which made their debut on grocery shelves in 1986, were largely responsible for putting ranch into the national spotlight, and making it more than just a dressing. The fact that they're still around to this day is a testament to ranch's deliciousness, especially when the flavor is combined with snack foods. You can approximate the taste of these legendary chips by adding ranch seasoning to just about any snack, including homemade tortilla or potato chips. Just sprinkle the seasoning on them while they're hot instead of salt.
Add Tang To Grilled Cheese
A gooey, crunchy grilled cheese sandwich is one of life's greatest pleasures. Sinking your teeth into buttery griddled bread and reaching the creamy molten center is so satisfying, it's a shame when it's lacking crucial seasoning. So much of grilled cheese's appeal is its interplay of textures, but don't forget about flavor, too. Sprinkling ranch seasoning on the interior of the sandwich as it's being assembled can add a much-needed punch of herbs, spices, and salt that will elevate this classic comfort food to a new echelon of sandwich.
Elevate Twice-Baked Potatoes
Ranch and potatoes are natural companions, with the zesty zip of the seasoning adding brightness to the rich, starchy root vegetable. One of the most luxuriously delicious ways to prepare potatoes is the one-two punch of the twice-baked method. It's time-consuming, but worth it: the first bake cooks them through, then the filling is scooped out, mixed with dairy, cheese, and seasonings, stuffed back into the shells, and baked again to form a browned crispy top. Mixing the filling with ranch powder is not just an easy way to add herbal flavor, it's smart, too -- the long cooking time in a hot oven can cause delicate fresh herbs like dill to lose their flavor. Ranch's dried herbs solve this problem, making these gourmet potatoes even more intensely delicious.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.