Ranch freaks, rejoice! The ultimate ranch taste test has finally arrived. Today we are talking homemade (or I should say semi-homemade) Hidden Valley ranch dressing made from the ranch seasoning packet versus the classic bottle of Hidden Valley ranch dressing. We did a side-by-side comparison to find out once and for all which ranch is the ranch.
Ranch Packet Pros:
The ranch packet has a fresher taste, because you add your own mayo and milk. Even though all the herbs and spices in the mix are dried, they rehydrate quickly and leave you with a product that feels homemade. This version of Hidden Valley Ranch is more flavorful than the bottled version and much, much thicker. It would be ideal as the star of a vegetable crudite platter. It’s also more versatile. I made it exactly as instructed on the package, but you could easily customize the ratios to make it any texture or level of flavor intensity you’d like.
Bottled Ranch Pros:
Literally, zero effort is required to enjoy the bottled Hidden Valley Ranch. You don’t have to work or wait or have other ingredients on hand. The texture is thinner, making it much easier to drizzle it onto a salad or use it as a dip for a slice of pizza. The flavor is subtle. This is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to overpower their food but desires a creamy element. This ranch remains edible for quite a while after it’s opened.
Ranch Packet Cons:
The ranch packet is so salty. For some people, that might be a pro, but the saltiness is definitely overpowering. I don’t think I could dip an already salty buffalo sauce-covered wing into this version of Hidden Valley Ranch. And forget making this in a pinch. It requires plenty of mayo and milk, so unless you already have those two things on hand, you’re going to be swinging by the grocery store and spending more money. Then, after it’s made, it has to be refrigerated for 30 minutes to thicken. And, since this is made fresh, it has a relatively short shelf life and should be used immediately.
Bottled Ranch Cons:
The bottled Hidden Valley Ranch is certainly less flavorful than the freshly made packet version. It also has that slightly strange tang that some packaged products have from excessive citric acid. It’s not super prominent, but it’s definitely present.
And the winner is …
I am shocked to say this, but the winner of this head-to-head Hidden Valley Ranch-off is bottled Hidden Valley Ranch. I know you’re doubting my tastebuds. You might even be mad. But here’s the thing: Yes, the ranch packet tastes better. If your only concern is taste, get the packet. The bottle, however, wins in every other arena. Financially, one packet of Hidden Valley Ranch will run you $1.50 to $2, plus the additional costs of purchasing whole milk and mayonnaise. A ready-to-consume bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch will run you about $2-3 in total. Time-wise, the packet has to be prepared and then it has to sit for at least 30 minutes, whereas the bottle has no wait time whatsoever. The packet is very thin and perfect as a dip, while the bottle has a texture that is better for salads (it is, after all, a salad dressing).
But what really seals the deal for the bottle is that the dressing you make with the packet goes bad relatively quickly. Whereas I can keep the bottle in my fridge and use it…forever? I’m sure it’s not actually forever, but it feels like forever compared to the prepared packet. Plus, the classic bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch does taste good. You might think you’re too good for it, but you’re wrong! It’s tangy, slightly herby, and super creamy. So while the packet does taste better, it can’t make up for the fact that the bottle takes the lead in every other category. In the end, save the packet for when you’re throwing a party, use the bottle the rest of the time to save on money, time, and waste.