Whether it’s game day and you’re having wings or you’re at a steakhouse and ordering a salad, you’ve likely had to choose between ranch and blue cheese before. However, if you were to put ranch and blue cheese dressings next to one another, you’d be hard-pressed to spot the difference.
As a dip or dressing, they look the same and taste almost the same. If you’re on this article, you’re wondering what’s the difference between ranch and blue cheese.
Ranch dressing is made with buttermilk, garlic, onion, mustard, herbs, and spices and is the most popular salad dressing in the United States. Blue cheese dressing has a similar composition to ranch but with some extra ingredients like vinegar, cumin, and of course, blue cheese.
Dressings vs. Cheese
The showdown between ranch and blue cheese dressings needs to have a caveat placed before it. While the dressings are similar and in a feud for which is the better game day, wing, or salad side, ranch is a dressing, but blue cheese by itself is not.
Blue cheese is a type of strong cultured cheese made with the Penicillium mold. The mold ferments the cheese and dots it with its signature blue and green spots. Blue cheese dressing is a dairy-based dressing that includes blue cheese.
What they’re made of
With that basic distinction out of the way, their actual compositions can now be addressed. Though they’re similar and because of this have similar flavor profiles, the two have some key differentiating ingredients.
In the 1950s, a man by the name of Steve Henson created ranch to keep his crews of workers satisfied during lunch breaks. Fifty years later, ranch had become the most popular salad dressing in America.
Ranch is made by mixing buttermilk with garlic, salt, mayonnaise, herbs like dill and parsley, and spices like black pepper and cayenne together to make a thick emulsion. Depending on the recipe, other ingredients like sour cream, yogurt, Worcester sauce, vinegar, etc. can be added to balance flavor and texture.
Blue cheese dressing’s composition is so alike to ranch’s that they’re nearly impossible to tell apart by eye or taste.
Blue cheese dressing is made with crumbled blue cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, onion powder, and garlic powder. As with ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing can have added ingredients like herbs, spices, Worcester sauce, lemon, etc.
Can’t tell the difference? That’s okay!
So, now that you know the differences in their makeups and the type of mold in blue cheese, can you finally tell them apart? No? That’s okay!
Ranch and blue cheese share the same look, consistency, and almost identical flavor. Both are dairy-based dressings with a tangy punch and a cooling effect against heat.
Ranch gets a zesty kick from the addition of herbs like dill and chives against the backdrop of sour buttermilk. Blue cheese dressing gets its flavor profile from its titular ingredient which packs a funky pop, mellowed and balanced by mayo, sour cream, vinegar, onion, and garlic.
When it comes to using them, they share many of the same flavors and functions too. They’re great with wings, on top of salads, or as dips for a party platter.
Ranch and blue cheese dressing are so hard to tell apart that it could drive you insane. But don’t fret, it makes sense why you can’t tell them apart. They’re so darn similar.
Ranch’s primary distinguishing ingredient is buttermilk which provides a tangy body to the sauce. Outside of buttermilk and the occasional chopped herb, ranch dressing and blue cheese are nearly identical.
Blue cheese’s main component difference is, you guessed it, blue cheese. The funky, crumbly cheese is mixed in to give the sauce that tangy pop that just can’t be beaten.
Can you substitute ranch for blue cheese?
If a recipe calls for blue cheese dressing, ranch is so similar that it can be swapped, and no one will be the wiser. However, if the recipe calls for the cheese itself, ranch dressing cannot be a substitute.