A creamy, tangy, oil free vegan ranch dressing recipe made with cashews and fresh herbs. Or use silken tofu for a low fat, nut free version.
This healthy recipe tastes so much like a classic buttermilk ranch dressing, but with no dairy, no eggs, and no mayonnaise. Though it shares many of the same ingredients as my healthy, oil free vegan mayo.
Plus, it's gluten free, oil free, and WFPB diet compliant.
What I love about this delicious homemade ranch dressing
First, who doesn't love a healthy, guilt-free dressing? When it's homemade, with only whole food, plant-based ingredients--like my lemon aquafaba dressing or my strawberry balsamic dressing--you can pour as much on your salad as you want and feel great about doing it.
I love how much this dressing tastes like classic ranch. It's creamy, garlicky and tangy, just like the real thing. (You simply can't make a great ranch dressing, in my view, unless you get the balance of creamy and tangy right!)
It tastes like you whipped up mayonnaise, buttermilk and herbs together--but of course, we used none of those unhealthy ingredients here.
And it's adaptable based on your dietary needs. If you're looking for a rich and creamy dressing, the cashew version is divine. (And it's also soy free.)
But if you want to get as close as possible to a fat free ranch dressing, the tofu version has only 26 calories and 1 gram of fat per 2 tablespoon serving. It's also nut free, if nut allergies are a concern.
- cashews - raw, unsalted. Or substitute extra firm silken tofu for a nut-free, low fat ranch dressing.
- plain, unsweetened plant milk
- fresh parsley - or sub dried herbs
- fresh dill - or sub dried herbs
- lemon juice
- white vinegar
- apple cider vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- pink Himalayan salt & freshly ground black pepper
Follow these photos and instructions to help make it great, every time. Please also see the full recipe card at the bottom of this page.
Step 1. Soak raw cashews in hot water. (Or use extra firm silken tofu.)
Step 2. Add all of the ingredients except the herbs to a high speed blender.
Step 3. Process until smooth and creamy, with no bits of nuts remaining.
Step 4. Add the dressing to a mixing bowl, and stir in the herbs.
Know your blender. The cashew version of this dressing requires soaking your nuts and using a high powered blender.
You can get away with less soaking (less time, water not as hot) if you're using a very powerful blender. If not, more soaking time and hotter (even boiling hot) is best.
Don't process the herbs in the blender. Unless you don't mind green ranch dressing!
For the classic white dressing, finely mince your herbs by hand or in a mini chopper (food processor) and stir them into your dressing by hand.
Taste and adjust. This recipe has elements that make it rich and creamy, and elements that make it tangy. But individual tastes differ, so I recommend tasting the dressing before adding the herbs, and adjusting as needed.
More Dijon and cashews will make it creamier (more 'mayonnaisy'), more lemon and/or vinegar will make it tangier (more like buttermilk).
Apple cider vinegar is sweeter than white vinegar, so use them accordingly.
Substitutions and variations
Cashews or extra firm silken tofu work equally well in this recipe. The taste and richness will be different, so choose based on your dietary requirements.
Extra firm silken tofu. You can substitute firm silken tofu, but the dressing will be thinner. I do not recommend soft silken tofu, as the dressing will be too runny.
Fresh dill and parsley. You can substitute dried and still have a good result.
Vinegar. I use a combination of white and apple cider vinegars, because white vinegar is tangy without being sweet, while ACV adds a bit of sweetness, and I like to balance the tanginess/sweetness in this recipe.
That said you can use rice vinegar in place of the ACV (it's also a bit sweet). I would not recommend dark colored vinegars (sherry, balsamic) as they'll change the color of the dressing and may not look appealing.
You could also increase the lemon in place of the white vinegar, but your dressing will taste a little lemony.
Garlic. I use both fresh and powdered because I think they both contribute unique flavors. But you could skip one or the other if desired.
Dijon mustard. I have not tried this with any other mustards, and would probably not recommend another style as the flavor would probably dominate.
Plant milk. Any unsweetened, unflavored plant milk will work. Or, you could substitute water. But I would probably not use broth as it would change the color.
- Dill pickle ranch dressing. I haven't attempted, but yes, this is a thing! Add about ¼ cup of finely diced dill pickles when you stir in the herbs.
- Southwest ranch dressing. Stir in salsa and/or Mexican hot sauce.
- Buffalo ranch dressing. Stir in a few drops of cayenne style hot sauce.
- Pesto ranch. Replace some of the plant milk (about ¼- ½ cup or so) with homemade oil free pesto sauce.
How to eat ranch dressing
I love this dressing on a simple green salad or wedge salad made with romaine lettuce. It's also perfect for dipping raw veggies like celery, carrot sticks, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, etc.
Traditional ranch dressing contains dairy, and if it's mayonnaise-based, also contains egg. So it's not vegan.
Store bought dressings--even vegan options--are almost always made with oil, and therefore not healthy. This recipe uses unprocessed and minimally processed ingredients.
(Check out this article for more information about why oils are unhealthy and thus avoided in a whole food plant-based diet.)
Even the fats--primarily from the cashews or a minimal amount in the tofu--are healthy, and unrefined. If you're following a low fat diet, the tofu version is a better option.
Store this recipe in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 4-5 days. (The lemon and vinegar help to preserve it.) You can also freeze for up to 3 months.
Happy, whole food plant-based cooking, y'all!
More whole food, plant-based recipes
Best Vegan Ranch Dressing [Oil Free]
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked in very hot water for 15 minutes. (Or sub extra firm silken tofu-see notes)
- ¾ cup plain, unsweetened plant milk use less for thicker dressing; more for thinner. If using tofu instead of cashews, reduce to ¼ cup +/-.
- ¼ cup fresh parsley finely minced (or 1 tablespoon dried).
- ¼ cup fresh dill finely minced (or 1 tablespoon dried).
- 2-3 garlic cloves peeled and trimmed
- ¼ cup lemon juice (about 1 ½ lemons)
- 1 tablespoon + 2 tsps white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1.5 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Add all of the ingredients EXCEPT THE PARSLEY AND DILL to a high speed blender, and process until smooth and creamy. Make sure the cashews are completely blended in with no remaining solid pieces. (Note-if you blend the herbs, your dressing will be green rather than white.)
- Add the parsley and dill to the dressing in the blender or another container, and stir in by hand until well combined.