Buttermilk Ranch Dressing with Loose Leaf Lettuce and More

This buttermilk ranch dressing is my all time favourite for fresh leaf lettuce. It is a light, refreshing creamy dressing that won’t weigh down tender new greens and is bursting with flavour thanks to fresh herbs.

buttermilk dressing on greens
Light and creamy dressing perfect for tender leafy greens.

Also Read: 7 Creamy Dressings (Dairy & Non-Dairy), Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing, Avocado Dressing with Cilantro & Lime

Uses for Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Fresh leafy greens or loose leaf lettuce beg for a light dressing that will complement their delicate texture and flavour. I usually choose this ranch dressing or my Lemon Chive Vinaigrette for the job. These dressings taste great, take advantage of fresh garden herbs and aren’t so heavy that they’ll cause those tender greens to be weighed down.

I like to arrange a mix of leafy greens, baby kale, spinach, fresh herbs, edible flower blossoms or whatever is available on a platter. By serving the dressing on the side, I keep the salad looking it’s best, I can keep leftovers in the fridge (dressed leafy greens do not store well) and everyone can add as much or as little dressing as they like.

platter of tender leafy greens, edible flower petals and buttermilk ranch dressing
Mixed lettuce greens, baby spinach, dill, chives, parsley and edible flower blossoms (Johnny Jump-ups, violas, lungwort and apple blossoms).

But don’t limit this dressing to salad – here are some other ways to enjoy buttermilk ranch dressing.

  • topping baked potatoes, perogies, falafel or boiled baby new potatoes
  • alternative dressing for tuna, potato or egg salad or chicken salad
  • substitute for sour cream
  • dressing for any salad – not just the tender leafy greens – try it on salads made with dark leafy greens, romaine, pea shoots, chickpeas, pasta, whole grains, arugula, veggies, etc.
  • use it for a creamy cucumber salad instead of my Classic German Cucumber Salad
  • drizzle it on corn on the cob (for real!)
dressed salad in bowl with extra dressing on side
Celebrating spring with June foods – lettuce greens, herbs, radishes and a delicious buttermilk dressing.

Recipe for Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

buttermilk dressing
Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

Buttermilk Ranch

Here is a classic buttermilk ranch dressing. A true crowd-pleaser! Fresh herbs really shine in this light dressing. I love using a combination of dill, parsley and chives when I have all three available.
Prep : 10 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Servings: 6
Author: Getty Stewart


  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh herbs to taste (dill, parsley, chives) use all three if possible
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously or stir until smooth.
  • Store in the fridge for up to a week.


Buttermilk may vary in thickness. For a thinner consistency, add a little bit of milk. For a thicker, richer dressing add more mayonnaise or thick yogurt.
Love garlic? Add a clove of fresh minced garlic instead of the garlic powder.
Tried this recipe?Mention @GetGettyS or tag #GetGettyS

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories: 23kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 26mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Iron: 1mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: ranch dressing, salad, salad dressing
buttermilk ranch dressing with salad
The fresh herbs add such great flavour to this dressing.

What is Buttermilk?

It sounds like it’s rich, high fat and buttery, right? Well, it’s not. Buttermilk is the liquid left over when you make butter – all the fat goes into the butter, the liquid that is left behind is old-fashioned buttermilk and is virtually fat free. This slightly sweet liquid would usually be fermented so it would store longer. This gave it a slightly acidic flavour, which gives buttermilk its signature flavour and makes it perfect for buttermilk pancakes and biscuits.

Today, buttermilk is made by adding beneficial lactic acid bacteria to milk. The percentage of fat in buttermilk varies according to the fat content of the milk used, so look for skim or full fat buttermilk in the grocery store.

Buttermilk is a little thicker than regular milk with a slightly acidic flavour. Imagine the flavour and texture you’d get if you mix equal parts milk and yogurt.

buttermilk in pitcher
Buttermilk is low fat with a slight tangy flavour and a bit thicker than milk.

Buttermilk Substitutes

The acid in buttermilk is what makes it ideal for baking, salad dressings and meat tenderizing. Because of this, you cannot simply replace buttermilk with milk. You need to somehow incorporate some acid. Here are my favourite ways of making a buttermilk substitute.

Milk & Lemon Juice – Add one tablespoon of lemon juice in a measuring cup then add enough milk to make one cup. Stir well and let rest at least 5 minutes.

Milk & Yogurt – Mix equal parts milk and plain yogurt, stir well.


Once you dress tender fresh greens, they will not store very well at all. To keep your salad as fresh as possible, dress just before serving or better yet, serve the dressing on the side. This way, each person can add their desired amount and any leftover salad can be kept for another day.

Store this dressing in the fridge and use it and other creamy based dressings within 5-7 days.

buttermilk dressing

If you make this dressing let me know what you think and how you used it. Leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram at #getgettys or Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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