Does Ranch Go Bad?

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One of the most popular dips and condiments in the country, the humble ranch has taken over the world. Ranch dressing has become a staple in almost every household. Initially, ranch dressing was popularly used as a dressing for salads, but now it is the dip or dressing of choice for everything from chicken wings and nachos to carrot sticks and controversially, pizza.

Ranch was originally invented in the 1950s by a plumber and cowboy who whipped together a buttermilk dressing. It has since then evolved and has many variations, but essentially ranch dressing is made up of buttermilk, mayo or sour cream, salt, onion, garlic, herbs like thyme, dill, chives, parsley, and spices like pepper, paprika, and mustard. There are of course a whole lot of other spices, herbs, and ingredients that can be added to ranch dressing. Any supermarket or grocery store you go to will not only have a variety of ranch dressing brands, but each brand has a whole host of flavors.

Ranch dressing has become part of the zeitgeist and has found its way into pop culture, memes, and TV shows, and has even been embraced by vegans with its plant-based options. Ranch dressing seems to be that unique thing that is bringing people together because apparently everyone loves ranch.

If that is the case, then you like more than half the country has a bottle of ranch either sitting in the pantry or cooling in the fridge. And if you’ve had it for some time, you’re probably wondering if it is still good to eat. Does ranch dressing go bad? Can you eat it past its best-by date? And how can you tell if it has spoiled? For all the questions you’ve had about ranch dressing, read on to find out more.

Does Ranch Go Bad?

Yes, unfortunately, this beloved dressing/dip/condiment does go bad. Store-bought ranch dressing has a pretty good shelf-life because of the use of additives and preservatives and the commercial packaging. Ranch dressing is often still consumable, even after the best-by date. It is improper storage or external contaminants that usually shorten its shelf life.

How Long Does Ranch Dressing Last?

  • Ranch dressing is pretty shelf stable, which means it can last for a long time, even when not refrigerated.
  • An unopened bottle of ranch dressing will last in the pantry for about 12 to 18 months as long as it has been stored with some care.
  • An opened bottle of ranch dressing will last in the fridge for about 6 to 8 months.
  • Homemade ranch dressing will last in the fridge for about 3-5 days.
  • Homemade vegan ranch dressing will last in the fridge for about 7-10 days. This is because there is no egg and no dairy products in vegan ranch, both of which spoil easily.
  • If ever in doubt, go with the date on the label. Most bottles of ranch dressing will come with a best-by, sell-by, use-by, or expiry date. The best-by date is the date when the product reaches peak quality, it does not indicate when the product will go bad.
  • Freezing is an option for most food products, but it is not recommended for ranch dressing. This is because ranch dressing is an emulsion and emulsions do not freeze well.
  • If you do freeze ranch dressing, you will find that the ranch has separated. You will then have to fix it to be able to consume it. The frozen ranch dressing will last in the fridge for about 6 months.
  • It is better to refrigerate ranch.
Type of Ranch DressingPantryFridgeFreezer
Unopened bottle of ranch dressing12-18 months

Opened bottle of ranch dressing
6-8 months
Homemade ranch dressing
3-5 days6 months
Homemade vegan ranch dressing
5-7 days6 months

The table is just an estimate of how long ranch dressing can be expected to last. The actual date and numbers will depend on a number of factors including storage conditions, quality of ingredients used, and so on. If you are not sure about how long your ranch will last, just go with the date on the bottle.

How Best To Store Ranch Dressing?

  • An unopened bottle of ranch will be perfectly fine in the pantry or kitchen cabinet. Store it in a cool, dark place away from direct heat and sunlight.
  • Once the bottle has been opened, it has to be refrigerated. Ensure that the lid is tightly closed before storing it in the refrigerator. Keeping it open will cause external contaminants to enter the bottle, accelerating spoilage.
  • Since ranch has eggs and dairy products in it, keeping it outside, especially when it is hot increases the risk for spoilage, mold, and bacteria.
  • Homemade ranch does not have any additives or preservatives; therefore, it will start deteriorating at a much faster rate. Refrigerate your ranch within two hours of making it.
  • Store it in a dry, airtight container. Make sure the lid is tightly closed and that there is no moisture in it.
  • Homemade vegan ranch requires the same care and process.
  • While not recommended, if you do decide to freeze ranch, you can either freeze it in a freezer-safe pouch or bag or you can portion it out and freeze it in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, remove it from the tray and store it in a freezer bag. This way, you can take out and thaw just what you need.
  • Keep in mind that freezing ranch will change its texture and quality. The ranch will most likely separate. To use it, you will first have to thaw it and then whisk it together quickly till it regains its consistency,
  • If you are not able to fix the separated ranch by whisking, it is best to throw it away.
  • To thaw frozen ranch, you can leave it in the fridge overnight or you can immerse the bag in a bowl of warm water.
  • You can also microwave it with 10-second blasts, although microwaving should just be the last option in case of a time crunch.

How To Tell If Ranch Has Gone Bad?

  • The first indicator of a spoiled bottle of ranch is if the bottle is puffy and bloated up.
  • Another thing to look for is the smell. If your ranch smells overpoweringly like vinegar, then it has gone bad.
  • Laos, watch out for mold or any other kind of growth on the surface of the ranch. If you see anything that shouldn’t be there, then it is time to toss it.
  • Finally, the texture. If the ranch is clumpy, overtly thick, or runny, then it has gone bad. Ranch should have a soft and smooth texture, if it is grainy or has lumps or anything else, then it is time to get rid of it.

Ranch dressing is America’s most beloved and most eaten condiment. To sustain its taste and quality and to continue enjoying this delicious dressing, take a little extra care, especially when storing it.

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