How Long Does Ranch Last? (+ 4 signs it’s bad!)
Creamy and so dreamy, Ranch is an all-time favorite American pantry staple. But How Long Does Ranch Last in the fridge? Let’s take a deep dive into the world of ranch!
❓ What kinds of ranch dressing are there?
- Homemade ranch dressing: Homemade ranch dressing can either be made from scratch or with a ranch dressing mix. It usually contains dairy and has a better flavor than the bottle due to its creaminess and freshness. My original ranch dressing recipe is a dairy-free version that still tastes super creamy. It’s perfect for keto, whole30, and paleo diets as well.
- Commercially prepared dressing: Store-bought ranch dressing is found in most fridges in the United States. It contains some preservatives and it’s not quite as creamy as homemade, but for ease, it gets the job done!
⏰ How long does ranch last in the fridge?
How long does homemade ranch last?
This will depend on a few factors like what the ranch is made of, if it was refrigerated quickly after being made, or if it was left at room temperature. Most ranch contains dairy products like regular milk, fresh sour cream or greek yogurt which spoils quickly when left out, however, if the ranch is stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container soon after being made, it can last for up to two weeks. You’ll want to note if you used an already opened container of dairy, or if it was brand new, as this will also affect how long it lasts.
Another factor to consider with homemade dressing is the herbs. Fresh ingredients like herbs tend to degrade fast making the ranch go off quickly. If dried herbs or a ranch seasoning mix were used, they tend to have slow bacterial growth compared to fresh herbs and will last longer.
How about the shelf-life of store-bought dressing?
For my example, I’m going to use the classic: Hidden Valley Ranch, however, most commercial copies from the grocery store will have similar results. If in doubt always check the expiration date, and don’t consume the food after that date.
Commercial ranch, if stored in its sealed container can last for between 6 and 9 months, as long as it is refrigerated as much as possible. An unopened package of ranch salad dressing could last for up to a year in the fridge, but be sure to check the expiration date before consuming it.
Why does it last so long?
Great question! It’s all about the ingredients. Ranch, like Hidden Valley, contains mostly oil, followed by water, sugar, and salt. These are known as non-perishable foods because they don’t go off quickly, if at all! It also contains a few funky ingredients like monosodium glutamate (msg), disodium phosphate, sorbic acid, and calcium disodium ETDA, specifically to preserve the freshness of the product. As you can see, salt (aka sodium), which is one of the most common natural preservatives, is also one of the key ingredients in ranch dressing, helping to keep it fresh. This ranch contains 260 milligrams of sodium per 2 tbsp which is over 10% of an average adult’s daily sodium intake. That’s a lot!
🪄 Top tips for storing ranch dip (homemade or commercial)
- Container: For the best quality, store all ranch in a covered container, ideally an air-tight container. A jar is great!
- Fridge: Keep the ranch chilled in the fridge as much as possible. If you do take it out to use as a dip, for example, only take out what you need at the time and pop the rest back in the fridge to keep it cold.
💩 4 Signs that Ranch has Gone Bad
Eating ranch dressing that is off, like most bad foods, can lead to an upset stomach and food poisoning. The best way to tell if it’s off is by sight, smell, and taste. Here are the different ways to tell if ranch has gone bad:
- Smell: When food goes off, one of the first ways to tell is from the smell. It will have an unpleasant off odor. If it smells off, throw it away!
- Mold: As ranch goes off, little bits of mold will appear. They can be many colors like grey, blue, green, black, and yellow, and can also look fuzzy in appearance. If you see strange colors, it’s time to throw the ranch away!
- Separation: Some separation is natural and can sometimes occur anyway. However, if the separation is accompanied by mold or an off smell, it’s best to chuck it out.
- Taste: Finally, if the ranch sauce or bottle of ranch looks and smells okay, give it a taste. If it tastes bad then it’s off. Otherwise, carry on and enjoy!
🤔 How to use up ranch dressing
- As a dipping sauce: My favorite way by far to eat ranch is as a dip. It goes perfectly with potato chips or crisps, french fries, sweet potato fries (my fav) roasted vegetables, chicken wings, and chicken tenders.
- Salad Dressing: This is a great way to get in those greens! Drizzle over a colorful salad, and why not sprinkle a few salad crispins or gluten-free croutons on top as well? Yum!
- Over a baked potato: Load that baby up with cheese, a drizzle of homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, and maybe a wee shake of hot sauce, and it’s *chef’s kiss* heaven!
- Mixed into a chicken salad: Sometimes instead of mayo I like to use ranch dressing. It adds tons of flavor for no effort. I use this Chicken salad recipe and just replace the mayonnaise 1:1 with ranch!
- In casseroles: Oh yes, creamy, cheesy casseroles are some of my favorite things in life. I added ranch to this Crack Chicken Casserole (i.e. chicken, bacon & ranch casserole), and it also tastes great on top of my Keto Enchilada Casserole.
- In a soup or chili: My Crack Chicken Chili has most of the ingredients from ranch without the actual ranch in it, so I like to boost it with a drizzle of ranch on the top when serving. Delish!
- Make another dressing out of it: For a quick blue cheese dressing, I just add some blue cheese crumbles to my ranch and it tastes AMAZING. Another quick dressing is my Almost-Thousand Island Dressing. I mix together 1 part tomato sauce (this is my ketchup recipe) to two parts ranch, and then toss in some sweet pickle relish. Heinz ketchup would work too. It is so good and so easy!
🥣 What’s a good homemade ranch dressing recipe?
My 5 minute Homemade Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (pictured in this post!) is such an easy recipe to whip up and tastes amazing on everything! Homemade salad dressing tastes so much better than commercial salad dressings and this healthy dressing is no exception! It contains dried herbs, no dairy (I used homemade almond milk “buttermilk” instead for that vinegar flavor) as well as a clove of fresh garlic or two to pack in that garlic flavor. It’s perfect for keto, paleo, and whole30 diets as well! Click the link above for the full recipe for the best ranch dressing. Store-bought dressings won’t beat this ranch recipe.
😋 Other posts to check out
- How Long Does Chicken Salad Last?
- Is Ginger Keto?
- How to bake Sausage Links
- How to make Whiskey Sauce without Cream
- Learn how to make Shredded Chicken in an Instant Pot
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