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Hidden Valley Ranch Packet: Just How Versatile is it?

If you've only ever thought to use a Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning packet to make dressing, I can tell you, you're missing out. Spice up your life, and all sorts of dishes with this savory ranch seasoning.

by Haley J. Wilson

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Photo: Getty Images

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I think we’re all familiar with Hidden Valley Ranch. Not only is it great on salad, it's perfect for dipping pizza, breadsticks, cut up vegetables, and plenty of other things, too, I’m sure. I mean, it’s kind of like a right of passage as a child, right? And even as adults we love it, but as I’ve gotten older the bottled variety doesn’t interest me much anymore. Instead, if I’m craving ranch as a dip or a dressing, I turn to the Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packets. And whether you use milk, sour cream, buttermilk, or mayonnaise to bring this packet of seasoning to life, it’s going to taste great…and so much fresher than the bottled variety. But is that all this little packet is good for? Is it just a dip or a dressing?

Here in the Test Kitchen we tend to refer to anything that contains a ranch packet, or at least some of the seasoning, as Crack (fill in the blank); crack dip, crack chicken, crack casserole…you get the picture. I mean, it does seem that whatever that savory seasoning goes into makes it pretty irresistible. So, I decided it was high time to share the collection of recipes we have that utilize this magical seasoning.

But what's in a Hidden Valley Ranch Packet?

Have you ever wondered what's in this magical packet? Powdered buttermilk, salt, spices, monosodium glutamate, and lactic and citric acids are the heavy hitters in the ranch packet ingredients. With powdered buttermilk, you don't need to have fresh buttermilk on hand, but can still simulate the flavor since regular milk is typically called for. And what exactly are the spices that are used...well, parsley, dill, and chives are all very common in a typical ranch dressing, along with garlic and onion powders. And I know you're looking at the monosodium glutamate (msg) with a side-eye right now, but you don't have to worry. It's completely safe. The general population will have no problem with it, though there are some individuals who are sensitive to it, who probably already know they should steer clear. But msg is added for a reason. It's a major (natural) flavor enhancer, providing tons of umami flavor. And what about the lactic and citric acids? Lactic acid controls pH and is used as a preservative. Citric acid is found naturally in citrus fruits. It's also used as a preservative, and flavor enhancer, adding sour flavor to whatever it's used in.

You can either go big and buy the larger canister (you might be surprised how much you sneak it into recipes!), or purchase the individual one-ounce packets.

Recipes using Hidden Valley Ranch Packet

I managed to rustle up 10 recipes from our archives that contain powdered ranch seasoning. But why did we use the packet, and not bottled ranch dressing? Well, bottled ranch is going to add a lot of extra liquid that you may or may not want by the time you get the flavor you’re looking for. With the powder you get more flavor bang for your buck, without messing with the consistency of your final product.

In the Twice-Baked Potato Poppers and Loaded Baked Potato Dip the powdered dressing is mixed in with the potatoes to add great ranchy flavor.

Try, also infusing ranch flavor into dishes using the packet of seasoning in dressing or dip form, but with a twist. In the Garden Salad with ranchy vinaigrette, the seasoning is mixed with oil and vinegar for a vinaigrette, rather than a creamy dressing. In the Orzo & Summer Squash, the seasoning is mixed with mayonnaise, then used to dress the orzo pasta salad. And my favorite, BLT Nachos, use the ranch seasoning — it’s just puréed with mayonnaise and grape tomatoes for a simple, yet flavorful nacho topper.

And don’t limit yourself to using ranch seasoning in just one area of a dish. The Ranch Cheese Curds utilize it both in the batter used to fry the curds, and mix it into the marinara for dipping the curds.

Adding ranch seasoning to soups and casseroles is a cool way to flavor them without having to buy several herbs, like in the Chicken-Vegetable Soup and Creamy Ranch Chicken Noodle Casserole.

What do you think about a hot chicken salad, or a creamy, chicken pasta? The Creamy Chicken Ranch Puffs and Instant Pot Chicken, Bacon & Ranch Pasta are a pure delight. There may have even been hugs doled out to the recipe developers on these two dishes.

By now your creative juices are probably flowing at max speed and you might have some ideas of your own on how to put a ranch seasoning packet to use. But if you haven’t, you’re sure to love the recipes listed above if you love ranch as much as I do.

Our Favorite Hidden Valley Ranch Packet Recipes

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