I found a recipe online for Ranch dressing that uses mayonnaise, sour cream, and buttermilk. The ratio of these ingredients are to my like (tastes good enough). However, I'd like the dressing to be a bit thinner (more liquidy). How would I go about achieving this? Add milk, cream, water, or something else?

5 Answers 5


Anything, including a 'neutral' flavor, is going to change the flavor, even if all it does is reduce the 'intensity'. So what you need to find is what is an 'acceptable' change.

With this in mind I suggest your best 'first choice' would be to warm your dressing slightly. Place the container or mixing bowl into a warm water bath. You are not trying to 'cook' or make it 'hot' just warm enough to thin it out without actually changing the flavor profile.

If that doesn't work for you then you might consider adding something to the mix.

  • The most likely thing you can do is alter the existing ratio to favor the 'thinner' ingredients. More Buttermilk, less mayo or sour cream.
  • Your second 'best' option would be to seek an thinning agent that does not distort the existing flavor profile 'too much'. Best candidate would probably be heavy cream or soft butter.
  • If neither of those options produces an acceptable result you might look for a different thinner such as an oil (olive, soy, canola) or another dairy (milk, low-fat or whole)
  • Warming not an option as this is for a catering application (will keep dressing chilled for health & safety). Don't want to add buttermilk as that will definitely affect the tangy flavor profile of the dressing -- and I would say it's at its absolute max tanginess. I had not considered butter or oil in Ranch dressing; will look into it. Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 18:12
  • 1
    @CookingNewbie, you have accepted this answer (thank you). Because I offer a number of options, and you clearly ruled out one (I note for good reason) you might comment as to what you actually did and the results you got.
    – Cos Callis
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 15:17

Milk or cream would work. If you don't like how they change the flavor, you can instead blend in a neutral oil (vegetable, soy, canola, avocado) to thin it out to the desired consistency.


I would try decreasing the sour cream and replacing it with whole milk, cream, or buttermilk in equal volume measures.


Try peanut butter. It won't change the taste and will give it a nice brown hue.

  • 2
    How would adding peanut butter make it thinner?
    – Sneftel
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 20:36
  • 1
    Adding to @Sneftel ‘s question…or not change the flavor?
    – Damila
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 3:54

I add sun-dried vinegrette salad dressing. Its a great combo. 50/50. I would never use either on their own, but together its fantastic.

  • 3
    Sun dried tomato based dressing? This is gonna change the flavor profile far more than desired. Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 9:03

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