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!
(If you can’t eat cashews, be sure to check out the substitutions down below the recipe, or try my Lemon Tahini Dressing for a nut-free and vegan option.)
This dairy-free ranch recipe comes from my friend Alisa’s new book, Eat Dairy Free, which is loaded with over 100 dairy-free and allergy-friendly recipes. Her book includes ideas for everyday meals, snacks, and sweets, with comfort food favorites like dairy-free Chicken Alfredo, Black Bean Burgers, “Cheesy” Twice Baked Potatoes, and Mylk Chocolate Cupcakes.
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.
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.
It could be easy to swap these ingredients for store-bought dairy free or vegan substitutes, but I prefer to use whole food ingredients, like cashews and olive oil, to avoid added preservatives or fillers. That’s why I love Alisa’s vegan ranch dressing recipe below!
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. There is usually a bit of acid, in the form of lemon juice or vinegar, and then also a touch of sweetness to balance it all out. You can add a few more herbs, if you like, such as dill or chives, depending on the flavor you’re going for.
I like to use dried herbs when I make ranch dressing, because it reminds me of the spice packets my mom used to use when I was a kid, but you’re welcome to use freshly chopped herbs if you prefer.
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. On top of that, dairy is a common allergen and may trigger an inflammatory response for certain people, making a dairy-based dressing less ideal.
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!
This dairy-free ranch dressing is made with cashews, olive oil, and herbs for an easy vegan and paleo alternative. It makes a healthy dip, too!
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2/3 cup water (or non-dairy milk)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or mild oil of choice)
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon spicy brown mustard (or ground mustard)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried chives (optional)
Put the cashews in your spice grinder or small food processor and whiz until powdered, about 30 to 60 seconds. (If you have a high powered blender, like the Vitamix, you can skip this step.)
Put the cashew powder, water, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper in your blender and blend until smooth. Stir in the parsley.
Pour the dressing into an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to thicken and let the flavors develop. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Shake or whisk the dressing before each use.
Reprinted with permission from Eat Dairy Free, by Alisa Fleming.
For 2 tablespoons: Calories: 72, Carbohydrates: 2, Fat: 6, Protein: 1
- I used maple syrup in this recipe to keep it vegan, but if you’d prefer to use honey, Alisa’s recipe recommends using 1 teaspoon of that instead.
- If you can’t tolerate cashews, sunflower seeds can be used instead, but the flavor will be slightly different. Because they are more bitter, you may want to add an extra splash of maple syrup to help balance that out.
- 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 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 1/2 cup of water in this recipe to start with. (You can always add more to thin it out later!)
Reader Feedback: Do you have a favorite dairy-free swap? Share your favorite recipe links below!
Disclosure: Alisa sent me a complimentary copy of her cookbook, but I am under no obligation to share a positive review. I just wanted to share one of her delicious dairy-free recipes with you, because she’s a pro at making them!