How Long Can Ranch Sit Out? | Store-Bought vs. Homemade

Ranch dressing’s creamy texture and tangy-herbal taste make it a staple feature in kitchens and restaurants. It is the perfect dressing for a garden salad, makes a great dip for vegetables, and, believe it or not, is a delicious complement to pizza.

Although ranch has a base of sour cream, mayonnaise, and buttermilk, it has a surprisingly stable shelf life.

As a rule, you should return open containers of store-bought ranch dressing to the refrigerator within 2 hours of it being out. As long as it is properly refrigerated, open, store-bought ranch will stay good to eat for 6-9 months.

Unopened bottles of ranch will be good 1-4 months past the best by date stamped on the bottle. However, homemade ranch dressing has a shorter shelf life, only 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. 

Continue reading for details about storing ranch, making homemade ranch, and some exciting recipes that include ranch seasoning.

Storing Store-Bought Ranch Dressing

For the best results, opened bottles of ranch or buttermilk ranch can stay at room temperature for up to 2 hours. However, due to its surprisingly stable shelf life, if you accidentally fall asleep before putting the ranch back in the fridge, it will still be good to eat if returned to the refrigerator within 8 hours.

Store your opened ranch dressing in the refrigerator for 6-9 months. After six months, you should check on the quality of the dressing to ensure that it has not spoiled. Check to see that the dressing smells fresh and has not changed color.

If the smell is bad, the dressing has changed color, or mold has started growing, you should discard the dressing immediately. 

Unopened ranch dressing will remain good at room temperature in the pantry or cabinet for 1-4 months past the “best by” date. After that, you should check the bottle for signs of spoilage before eating it.

It may still be safe to eat even if the flavor is off. Hidden Valley Ranch notes that the vinegar in the dressing may develop a stronger flavor after the best by date. However, since ranch contains dairy and eggs, you should stick to the old adage, “When in doubt, throw it out.”How Long Can Ranch Sit Out

Storing Homemade Ranch Dressing

Whether you make ranch dressing or dip entirely from scratch or use a mix packet, homemade ranch doesn’t have as long a shelf life as commercial ranch. You should not let homemade ranch sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Furthermore, homemade ranch will only be good in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. Keep it in an air-tight container like a plastic container with a tight lid or a canning jar.

You can freeze homemade ranch if you have extra. It may not have the perfect texture once it is defrosted, but it will be safe to eat. You shouldn’t thaw and refreeze ranch, so the best way to freeze it is in small batches like ice cube trays.

Once frozen, pop out the cubes and place them in a rigid airtight container or freezer bag. Stored properly, frozen, homemade ranch will keep for 2-4 months, although the flavor may begin to weaken the longer it is frozen.How Long can Ranch Sit Out

Storing Packets Of Ranch Dressing Mix

If you like to mix up ranch fresh instead of buying it bottled, you might be using the pre-mixed packets of seasoning. According to Hidden Valley Ranch, these packets are best when used within one year of the date of manufacture.

However, as long as the packages are in a cool, dry place, the contents should be good for 18 months to 2 years from the date of manufacture. The best by date on the packets indicates the flavor quality of the contents, not the safety of the mix.

Making Ranch Dressing Or Dip

Ranch Dressing from A Mix

Hidden Valley Ranch (the best-known name in ranch seasoning) packets make homemade ranch quick and easy. Combine one seasoning packet with one cup of milk or buttermilk plus one cup of real mayonnaise. Whisk these ingredients together and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. 

Ranch Dip From A Mix

For a thicker dip like for potato chips or vegetable dip at a party, use 1 cup of mayonnaise, ½ cup of milk or buttermilk, and ⅓ cup of sour cream. Keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

If you want a completely different take on ranch dip, make a cheese ball for your next party. Combine 1 seasoning packet with two 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened.

Stir in 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup of cooked, crumbled bacon, and ¼ cup of diced green onion. Mix well (by hand or in your stand mixer), cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours or more. Serve with an assortment of crackers and vegetables to dip it with. Keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.How Long Can Ranch Sit Out

Homemade Ranch From Scratch

If you have a little extra time and want to customize your ranch, try making it entirely from scratch. 

In a large bowl, combine ½ cup of mayonnaise, ½ cup of sour cream, ½ cup of buttermilk (or regular milk) 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or white wine vinegar), and 1 teaspoon of Worchestershire sauce.

When these ingredients are mixed well, add in ¼ cup of finely chopped fresh dill, ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley, ¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives, ½ teaspoon of onion powder, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, ¼-½ teaspoon sea salt, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. Mix well and taste.

Increase the seasonings so that they fit the flavor you are looking for. Keep the dressing refrigerated in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.

For a thicker, creamy ranch dip, use the same seasonings, but replace the buttermilk with softened cream cheese. This will result in a thicker but still tangy dip. 

Alternative Ranch Dressing And Dip Recipes

Avocado Ranch Dressing

Add a ripe avocado to your ranch dressing for a fresh twist on an old classic. Use the same basic ranch recipe with just a few changes. Combine ½ cup of mayonnaise, ½ cup of sour cream, ¼ cup of buttermilk, ½ a mashed ripe avocado, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or white wine vinegar).

When these ingredients are mixed well, add in ¼ cup of finely chopped fresh dill, ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley, ¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives, ½ teaspoon of onion powder, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, ¼-½ teaspoon sea salt, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.

Mix well and taste. Increase the seasonings so that they fit the flavor you are looking for. Keep the dressing refrigerated in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.

With only a couple of minor changes, you can have a new refreshing version of ranch dressing that tastes great on chicken tacos or as a salad dressing.

Jalapeno Ranch Dressing

Do you want a little more spice in your life? Jalapeno makes a wonderful addition to the cool creaminess of ranch dressing. 

This recipe is a copycat of a dip a Chuy’s Tex-Mex Restaurant, which was started in Austin, Texas, but now there are multiple locations. This jalapeno ranch dip is good on everything from tortilla chips to tacos. You could even try it on a burger.

Combine 1 cup of sour cream, 1 cup of mayonnaise, 1 packet of dry ranch dressing mix, ½ cup chopped cilantro, and ½ cup of pickled jalapeno peppers in a blender or food processor. Puree until the jalapeno and cilantro are smooth.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 -2 weeks.  

Alternatively, you can use fresh jalapenos instead of pickled ones. Fresh jalapenos are less predictable in how hot they are, so remove the seeds first if you want a milder flavor. For a hotter dip, leave the seeds in. Start with 1 jalapeno and add more to suit your taste.

Southwest Spicy Ranch Dressing

You can add a little southwestern flair to your ranch dressing, making it perfect for a taco salad or a burrito sauce. 

Make up your rach dressing according to the mix instructions, then add ½ teaspoon of hot sauce (like Tobasco or Frank’s), ½ teaspoon of paprika, ¼ – ½ teaspoon of cayenne, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and ½ teaspoon of garlic powder. 

These additional flavors will turn your basic ranch into an irresistible topping which will be good stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Unusual Uses For Ranch Dressing Mix

Ranch Party Mix

 A fun and unique way to use that packet of ranch dressing mix that is in your cabinet is to make some ranch-flavored party mix. To make this party mix you will need a paper grocery sack. Plastic bags will not work; your party mix will turn out soggy and oily.

In your paper grocery sack, pour in one 10 ounce bag of oyster soup crackers, 6 cups of corn or rice Chex cereal, and 6-7 ounces of pretzel sticks. Sprinkle one packet of ranch dressing mix over the bag’s contents and then add 2 heaping tablespoons of dried dill.

Drizzle ½ cup of vegetable oil evenly over the cereal mixture. Roll the top of the bag closed and pick it up and shake it to distribute the seasoning. Let it sit for 2 hours, shaking it every 30 minutes. 

Store it in an airtight container or zip-top bag lined with paper towels at room temperature for about a week.How Long Can Ranch Sit Out

Cornflake Ranch Coated Chicken Bites

Try this crunchy ranch-flavored chicken for a weeknight meal that the whole family will love.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut 2-3 chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, removing any fat. Prepare 2 bowls for dredging the chicken: one with melted butter and the other with a packet of ranch seasoning mix, ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of crushed cornflakes. 

Dredge each piece of chicken in butter, then coat it in the seasoning and cornflake mixture. Place the chicken, not touching, in a single layer in a baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until the chicken finishes cooking. Store and leftovers in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.How Long can Ranch Sit Out 

Final Thoughts

Ranch dressing is a classic topping that is good on everything from salads to french fries. Open bottles of ranch dressing should be refrigerated within 2 hours. It has a remarkable shelf life, though, and can stay in the fridge for up to 9 months.

Homemade ranch dressing should only be kept for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. Unopened bottles of ranch are good in the pantry at room temperature up to 5 months past the best by date, while the packets of dry seasoning mix are good for up to 2 years from the date of manufacture. 

The creamy yet tangy taste of ranch complements many dishes and can be used in unusual ways you may not have considered. Explore the possibilities and try ranch seasoning in a new way.

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