(Healthline) – When it comes to favorite salad dressings, many people put ranch at the top of their list.
What’s more, many people treat this tasty, creamy dressing as a condiment, adding it to everything from sandwiches to pizza to French fries.
However, if you eat ranch dressing frequently, you may wonder if you’re racking up lots of calories.
This article takes a look at the calorie content of some popular brands of ranch dressing and reviews some of this condiment’s health effects.
What’s in ranch dressing?
Traditional ranch salad dressing has a creamy buttermilk base that’s flavored with garlic, mustard, and herbs, including parsley, chives, and dill.
Some brands of bottled ranch dressing are made with yogurt instead of buttermilk. Others get their creamy texture from oil and eggs.
You can also buy ranch dressing as a powdered mix, adding your own milk, mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk to customize the creamy base.
The base of the salad dressing has the largest impact on its overall calorie count. It’s where the fat — and therefore most of the calorie content — comes from.
Ranch dressing is a very popular, creamy, herb dressing that some people feel enhances the flavor of everything. Its calorie content varies depending on the ingredients and amount of fat it contains.
Calorie content of some popular brands
There are countless brands of bottled ranch salad dressing available in stores and online. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists nearly 5,000 different entries for ranch dressing in their nutrition database (1).
An average 2-tablespoon (30-ml) serving of ranch dressing contains 129 calories, 13 grams of fat, less than 1 gram of protein, and about 2 grams of carbs (2).
Here are some calorie and ingredient details for a 2-tablespoon (30-ml) serving of several popular brands (1).
Original Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. One serving packs 140 calories and 14 grams of fat. Most of the fat in this dressing comes from soybean or canola oil and egg yolks.
Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing. A serving contains 110 calories and 12 grams of fat, which comes mainly from soybean oil.
Annie’s Cowgirl Ranch Dressing. This dressing has 110 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving, mainly from canola oil and buttermilk.
Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing. This brand contains 120 calories and 13 grams of fat per serving, with most of the fat coming from avocado oil.
Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing. This brand packs 150 calories and 16 grams of fat, which come from soybean oil and buttermilk.
Hidden Valley Greek Yogurt Ranch. Because it’s lower in oil, this has only 60 calories per serving and 5 grams of fat. The two main ingredients are fat-free, rehydrated Greek yogurt and water.
Bolthouse Farms Classic Ranch. This product is the lowest-calorie dressing of the bunch at 45 calories and only 3 grams of fat. Buttermilk is the main ingredient, and it also gets its creaminess from yogurt, milk, and cream.
Most bottled brands of ranch dressing feature soybean oil as a major ingredient and pack in around 110–150 calories for a 2-tablespoon (30-ml) serving. Those with yogurt or buttermilk as a top-listed ingredient tend to be lower in calories.
Not all calories are created equal
When it comes to bottled salad dressing, it’s not just about calories. It’s also important to consider the type of oil and what other ingredients it contains.
The soybean oil in many brands of ranch dressing is a leading source of omega-6 fat in many people’s diets.
In large amounts, omega-6 fats can increase inflammation and the risk of inflammatory diseases like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
On the other hand, oils like olive, canola, and avocado oil are healthier choices and linked to a lower risk of chronic disease, even though they contribute the same number of calories per gram as less healthy fats (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Although they don’t necessarily add to the calorie count, the artificial ingredients in some brands of ranch dressing might cause you to gain weight.
Researchers have found that eating more ultra-processed foods — those that contain ingredients made in a lab — tends to promote greater weight gain and the accumulation of belly fat, especially in women (7Trusted Source).
When comparing brands of ranch dressing, make sure you consider the ingredients — not just the calorie content. Some brands are made with highly processed ingredients and unhealthy fats.
How to make homemade ranch dressing
It’s very easy to make your own ranch dressing from a few simple ingredients.
You can choose a healthy base and tailor the ingredients and texture to your taste. Another major benefit of homemade dressing is that you’ll avoid additives, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients.
To make a traditional ranch dressing, start by mixing 1/2 cup (118 ml) each of buttermilk, plain Greek yogurt, and good-quality mayonnaise made with olive, canola, or avocado oil.
Next, stir in about 2 tablespoons of fresh, minced dill; 2 tablespoons of fresh, minced chives; and 4 tablespoons of fresh, minced parsley. If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can substitute dried herbs, but use about half the amount for each.
Finally, add 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, dried mustard, and salt, as well as a generous pinch of fresh ground pepper. Whisk everything together, and add a bit of water if it’s too thick.
This homemade ranch dressing will keep in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
If you want a healthier ranch dressing that’s free of unhealthy fats or additives, try making your own. It’s easy to do, and once you have the dried herbs and spices on hand, you’ll be able to whip up a tasty ranch dressing anytime the craving hits.
The bottom line
Ranch dressing is a staple in many kitchens.
It may promote healthy eating if it encourages you to eat more salads or vegetables. However, you should be aware that some brands are full of fats and other ingredients that might undermine your healthy eating goals.
While the calories in ranch dressing are important to consider, the ingredient list may be even more critical. Choose a variety with ingredients you recognize.
Alternatively, get out your whisk and experiment with making your own ranch dressing.