Oh yes, friends, it can be done, with nary a soy product in sight. Unless you like it that way.
I’ve been lactose intolerant since I was 15, and in the 14 years since, I’ve progressed from major feelings of WOE (because it seems like dairy is in damn near everything) to now finding it mildly annoying. Still, there are things that I miss: fancy cheeses, sour cream and cheddar Ruffles, and occasionally, ranch dressing. I’ve tried vegan versions of ranch, and while it tasted fine, it didn’t really taste like ranch.
Those Hidden Valley Ranch packets have dried buttermilk in them, so without taking a lactase supplement*, they’re not really much better than the stuff in the bottle. I always figured that I could make it myself, but I was lazy about it until my aunt sent me a variety of special seasonings. Now, I think I make a pretty decent lactose-free ranch.
Here’s how I do it:
- 2 tablespoons dry ranch seasoning (I use this Penzeys mix**)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup lactose-free milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup mayonnaise
Stir together the seasoning and the water, then let it sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into the milk. This is a common cooking substitution for buttermilk, so it works out nicely for our lactose-free purposes. I used skim milk, since that’s what I had.
Stir together the seasoning and the “buttermilk,” then whisk in the mayonnaise. You’ll have to do it for longer than you might think to really get everything mixed together well. You can play with the ratio of mayo and milk to get the thickness you prefer. Made this way, it seems a little thin, but after it’s been in the fridge for an hour, it thickens up a bit.
This makes 2 cups worth of dressing, and it keeps for a week in the fridge.
If you instead have a dairy allergy, in which case the lactose-free milk isn’t going to help you, you can always try this recipe with the milk substitute of your choice and save yourself the $4 for the vegan bottled stuff. Give it a shot.
And if you’ve got any other lactose-related questions (i.e., the difference between lactose-intolerance and a dairy allergy), do give a shout in the comments. I’m no certified expert, but I’ll do my best to answer them.
* Lactase supplements, or the brand name Lactaid. I take two of these pills when I eat pizza or other things that have dairy, but not too much for my stomach to handle. Even with Lactaid, my stomach is powerless against real butter and cream.
**If you didn’t want to buy this seasoning mix, the ingredients listed on the back are salt, bell peppers (dehydrated), garlic, onion, sugar, black pepper, parsley, thyme, and basil.