This vegan ranch dressing is my new favorite salad topper, and also doubles as an easy vegetable dip. Instead of using dairy or soy, it gets its creaminess from raw cashews!
Ingredients You’ll Need
This vegan ranch dressing is made with cashews instead of mayo, so it’s lower in fat and calories. It calls for only 1 tablespoon of oil, but you can leave that out if you follow an oil-free diet.
Here are the main ingredients you’ll need:
- Cashews (I use raw, unsalted ones)
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dried herbs & spices
Cashews are my favorite source of “creaminess” for vegan recipes, because they have such a mild, almost sweet flavor. If you’ve tried my Vegan Cheesecake, Vegan Chocolate Tart, or Vegan Nacho Cheese, you know how magical they can be.
Can’t eat cashews? My favorite substitute for cashews is hemp hearts, which are a complete source of plant-based protein. Otherwise, blanched almonds would probably be a similar substitute as well, they are just a little harder to break down in the blender.
How to Make It
To make this Vegan Ranch Dressing, all you need is a blender and 5 minutes of time.
Here’s how to do it:
- Process the cashews. I use dry cashews most of the time, but if you don’t have a powerful blender, you can soak the cashews in water for 2 hours ahead of time, to help them soften, then drain them. Place the cashews in a blender, and process briefly to help them break down.
- Add in the other base ingredients. Now you’ll add in the water, salt, acid ingredients, and other base spices like garlic and onion powder. Blend until very smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the seasoning here, so you don’t have to blend too much during the next step, but keep in mind the flavor will be even better with the added herbs.
- Add in the herbs. These will add even more flavor, and are the green “specks” you’ll see in typical ranch dressing. Don’t over-blend here, or your dressing will turn green. Just a few pulses will do!
That’s it! Pour the dressing into an airtight container, and let it chill in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.
Things You Should Know
The flavors will meld even more as they sit in the fridge overnight, and the dressing will thicken, so you’ll probably want to add a tablespoon of water the next day to help balance that out and make it easily pour-able again. This will also help dilute the overall taste, if the salt or garlic flavor starts to get too strong overnight.
This dairy-free ranch recipe is adapted from my friend Alisa’s new book, Eat Dairy Free, which is loaded with over 100 dairy-free and allergy-friendly recipes. If you’re not familiar with Alisa’s website, Go Dairy Free, it’s also a great resource for dairy-free living, including recipes, product reviews, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is ranch dressing made with milk? Traditional ranch dressing recipes usually call for a combination of mayonnaise, sour cream, and sometimes buttermilk, so they are typically made with milk. You could swap those ingredients for store-bought vegan alternatives, but I prefer this recipe instead!
What are the herbs in ranch dressing? The main spices used in ranch dressing are onion, garlic, and parsley, along with plenty of salt and pepper. I also like to add chives and a pinch of dill. The flavors will get stronger as they meld in the fridge overnight, so keep that in mind when you make this.
Is ranch dressing healthy? When it’s made with mayo and sour cream, ranch dressing can pack quite a few calories and grams of saturated fat into each serving. However, when you make dairy-free ranch dressing with whole food ingredients, I think it’s a healthier choice. Especially if it gets you eating more veggies!
More Vegan Salad Dressings
- Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
- Greek Salad Dressing
- Vegan Ranch Dressing
- Avocado Cilantro Dressing
- Creamy Cucumber Tahini Dressing
I hope you’ll enjoy this dairy-free ranch dressing recipe as much as I do. It makes a great dip for veggies, a party spread with chips, or practically anything else you use ranch for!
Vegan Ranch Dressing (No Mayo!)
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup water , plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried chives
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill (optional; but recommended)
- Place the cashews in the blender and process briefly to grind them into a powder. (If you don't have a good blender, you can do this in a spice grinder or coffee grinder first.)
- Add in the water, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper and blend until smooth. Stop and scrape down the sides, as needed, to make sure everything gets blended. The mixture should look smooth, creamy, and runny in texture.
- Add in the parsley, chives, and dill, and pulse briefly, just to incorporate them. (This gives the dressing a speckled look, like traditional ranch. If you blend too long it could turn green instead.) Taste and adjust any seasoning as needed. You may want to add up to 1/4 teaspoon more salt, or extra lemon for a more tangy flavor.
- Pour the dressing into an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors develop. It will thicken much more in the fridge overnight, so I recommend adding a tablespoon of water, or more, as needed to thin it out again the next day. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Shake the dressing before each use.
- If you can't tolerate cashews, hemp hearts are the easiest swap. Otherwise sunflower seeds may be used, but they have a more bitter flavor and you may need to balance that out with a little added sweetness.
- Alisa's original recipe calls for a 1/2 cup of grapeseed or rice bran oil, which will help make the dressing thicker, if you'd like. I only keep olive oil on hand at home, so I used a lot less of it to lower the fat content and keep the flavor neutral. (I think the olive oil taste would be noticeable if you used more.)
- If you'd like to soak the cashews for easier blending, I recommend soaking them in water for up to 2 hours, then draining and using only 1/3 cup of water in this recipe to start with. (You can always add more to thin it out later!)
Update notes: I updated this recipe in January 2021 to taste even better, using less oil. If you preferred the original recipe, increase the water to 2/3 cup total, use 1/4 cup olive oil, add an extra teaspoon of lemon juice and vinegar, and add 2 teaspoons of maple syrup. (I lowered the acid content in this recipe to eliminate the need for an added sweetener.) I also added the dried dill, because I think it tastes more like the ranch I buy at the store, but you can omit that, too.
If you try this Vegan Ranch Dressing, please leave a comment below and let me know how you like it! And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too. We can all benefit from your experience.
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