homemade ranch dressing

homemade ranch dressing | via she likes to eat











during the summer, my husband directs a family kamp. on saturday mornings, not many people are around and the pool is almost deserted. so we take the opportunity to crash the pool, bringing friends, floats, and snacks – trying to last as long as we can until the kids are all melting down for naps. one time, my good friend whitney brought veggies and ranch dressing for the kids to snack on, only her ranch dressing was made from scratch. my daughter, the one whose love language is sugar and who will not touch veggies thanks to her genetics from her dad, gobbled up carrots dipped in the ranch. i was GIDDY.

so i begged whit for the recipe, which is a family recipe, and it has become my favorite ranch dressing – storebought or not. i have edited it just a bit but have not strayed from the original ingredients. the kicker, in my opinion, is the saltine crackers – GENIUS! – which gives the salty flavor and makes it a little thicker so it’s never runny. this makes enough mix for a lot of dressing, so i store the mix in a mason jar and use it as i need it. it will keep for a few months in an airtight container.

mrs bartlett’s homemade ranch dressing


7 saltine crackers (or a heaping cup of the oyster-size saltines)

1 tbsp garlic salt

4 tsp onion powder

1/4 cup dried parsley

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 heaping tbsp dried dill


1. pulverize the saltines in the blender until fine. pour into a medium sized mixing bowl.

2. add all of the dried herbs and whisk to incorporate. store in an airtight container.

3. to make dressing: mix 1 tbsp ranch mix with 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup mayonnaise. use milk to thin, for desired consistency.


vanilla & cinnamon extracts – make your own

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i am personally not a huge DIY-er. i am not crafty, as as much as my mom sweetly says “honey you can do it”, i honestly have no desire to be.  if my husband were a part of this conversation, he would tell you the infamous first-year-of-marriage farm table story, where i begged him to let us buy this old farm table for me to refurbish. it sat on our back porch in north carolina for A WHOLE YEAR without being touched. when we moved, we had to throw it off the balcony into a dumpster because of all the wasps nests that had set up shop all over it… ::sheepish grin::
hey, i was busy with other things. like figuring out how to be a wife.

but there is one exception to my not being crafty: vanilla and cinnamon extracts.
i decided earlier this year to try it, probably because that meant i could source and buy cute little bottles and print out these really cool labels for them (being the design nerd that i am, this got me really excited). and aside from the obvious reason that it’s way cheaper, i like that you can control the flavor.

wondering where you might use the lovely-sounding cinnamon extract?
try this glorious, crumbly cinnamon coffee cake.

vanilla extract
makes one cup/8 ounces of extract


3-4 vanilla beans

1 cup/8 ounces medium- to high-quality vodka, bourbon, or brandy (**see note below**)


1. clean & dry a small, 8 ounce kerr/mason jar or bottle – set aside.

2. using a sharp knife (if you have one, a bird’s beak paring knife works like a dream) cut the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center, exposing all of the inside but not cutting all the way through the bean. cut in half or into 3 pieces and put into jar or bottle and (using a funnel for a bottle) top with vodka or brandy. make sure the beans are completely submerged in the alcohol. give it a good shake.

3. allow extract to sit for 8 weeks in a cool & dark spot, shaking the jar(s) every few days or so.

cinnamon extract

makes one cup/8 ounces of extract


4 cinnamon sticks

1 cup/8 ounces medium- to high-quality vodka


1. clean & dry a small, 8 ounce kerr/mason jar.

2. place cinnamon sticks in jar and pour vodka over the sticks. make sure the sticks are completely submerged in the alcohol. give it a good shake.

3. allow extract to sit for 8 weeks in a cool & dark spot, shaking the jar(s) every few days or so.

– after making a jar, i usually put a post-it note on the outside with the date that i made the extract. then after the 8 week period, i put on a nice sticker label.
– for vanilla extract: using vodka will create a cleaner extract, without much extra flavoring besides the vanilla itself; and using brandy or bourbon will create lots of rich character. (brandy and vodka are my 2 preferred extract alcohols.)
– after the 8 weeks and once you start using your extract, make sure to give the jar a good shake before using each time, to combine and in case anything has settled to the bottom.
– if you want to make more than one 8 ounce bottle, below i’ve done some multiplication for you:
2 cups of extract = 16 ounces = 1 pint = 6 vanilla beans (or 8 cinnamon sticks)
4 cups of extract = 32 ounces = 2 pints = 1 quart = 12 vanilla beans (or 16 cinnamon sticks)
– if you are looking for cute bottles or vanilla beans, beanilla is a great website. also, amazon sells good quality vanilla beans.
– which vanilla bean to use for your extract? if you want bold and smoky, go for a mexican bean. if you are wanting rich and creamy, use madagascar beans. if you want a chocolate-cherry/floral aroma, buy a tahitian bean.
– when you’ve used all of the extract, you can just add 1-2 new fresh vanilla beans (or 1-2 cinnamon sticks) and refill the jar with alcohol, shake, and let sit 8 weeks. how economical is that?!

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helpful resources:  joy the bakerspoonforkbacon, and beanilla.