Just as Mr Meatified doesn’t consider soup worth eating unless he can practically stand a spoon up in it, so he prefers a dressing that is so thick it is almost incapable of being poured. He also hasn’t eaten ranch dressing in years, much to his horror, and I had never found a way to recreate it. But when I came up with the coconut milk-based dipping sauce for these meatballs, I ended up with leftover sauce. Once it had been refrigerated, it thickened up considerably and I found Mr Meatified using it as a salad dressing. Which reminded me of the old ranch dressing conundrum and got me thinking. How could I recreate that thickness without having to refrigerate the dressing for hours before it was ready to pass Mr Meatified’s thick & creamy ranch dressing test? I needed to add SOMETHING to the coconut milk without adding too much flavor. And then I remembered: raw cashews! I’ve seen people use cashews to make a type of vegan “cheese” – could they work here as a thickener? The answer was a resounding “yes”!
I have yet to find the spare change or counter space to invest in a super duper blender, so I had to rely on my trusty (and cheap) mini food processor for this. Please let me know if you try this out in a blender or full sized food processor, as I suspect it is far quicker and easier that way and I would love to be able to add instructions for that method! I used raw cashews that I had soaked overnight and then drained (Mark’s Daily Apple explains the why and how of this better than I can!), so I am not sure if un-soaked cashews will produced the same results. Please feel free to play around and see what you like best – better yet, come back here and tell me!
Please note that – like all coconut milk / oil based products or recipes – the dressing WILL thicken considerably if you refrigerate it. If you have leftovers, you will need to let it come to room temperature (or heat it very gently) before it will be a pourable ranch dressing again.Print
Almost Ranch Dressing
This is a dairy free & vegan dressing, tangy with fresh herbs and lemon juice, which will satisfy all the Ranch dressing lovers in your house!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 10 mins
- Yield: 10 oz 1x
- 1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked overnight & drained
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbl fresh chopped chives
- 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
- In a mini food processor, use the “grind” setting to reduce the raw unsalted cashews to a fine / sand-like texture, then use the normal setting to get a paste-like, spreadable texture.
- Begin to add the coconut milk a tablespoon at a time, scraping the sides down when needed, and blend until you have a smooth paste. This will take several minutes. Once the mixture is smooth, add the rest of the coconut milk and the lemon juice, then blend to combine.
- Add the seasonings and fresh herbs and blend until combined / smooth.
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This is such a neat recipe!
Thank you! Sometimes I’m grateful for having such a picky person to feed! 🙂
Do you need to add the cashews to this recipe?
The cashews act as a thickener. You can make the recipe without them, but with coconut milk alone the dressing will be much thinner, the same liquid texture of coconut milk.
I was wondering if you could use almonds instead of cashews to thicken?
I haven’t tried that myself, but it may work — you would definitely want to use blanched almonds (without the skins) and to soak them beforehand, though, or you will end up with almond butter!
What you could do is put the coconut milk can in the refrigerator and just use the cream to come to the top to make it thicker if you can’t add the cashews.
I loved this dressing! I made it with my Blendtec and had the usual trouble with the nuts. It just tosses everything to the sides of the container if there is only a small amount, but I scraped it down and added some of the coconut milk before the cashews were all the way to paste and that took care of it. Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to another salad for dinner tomorrow now! 🙂
I’ve never had a Blendtec and made it with my not so awesome mini food processor – I’m so glad it could work for you and thank you so much for letting me know! I’ve been working on a version of potato salad using this recipe as a base and I totally feel you on the constant-scrape-the-bowl part!
A Magic Bullet mini food processor is excellent for grinding nuts, flax seed and the like. All stays in the bottom as needed!
When I want to thicken dressing without changing the taste I use Chia seeds. I use them instead of any oil in my vinegar and oil dressing.;
That’s a good idea! I never seem to keep chia seeds around, I will have to pick up some to play with 🙂
On the potato salad; we use sautéed yellow squash in place of potatoes and make our own mayo with homemade pickles. De-lish!!
Oooh, the squash sounds interesting, thank you! Never would have thought of that myself!
* just make sure to salt your squash for about 30 minutes or so, and rinse before you sautée it and if need be add a bit if water and steam covered till desired doneness.
Hi – Is it absolutely necessary to soak the cashews? I’d love to try this recipe tonight (insta-gratification!!!) but will wait till tomorrow if I have to. 🙂
Yes – it really helps make them softer and more blendable. It’s worth the wait!
Made this today. It is fantastic!!! Close enough to ranch for my three year old to like it too! I’m impressed! Thank u so much for the recipe.
Awesome! Thanks for letting me know 🙂
What does it mean by “soak the cashews”? Just in water?
Yes. Cover them with water and let them soak for at least a few hours until they are softened and the water is cloudy.
I missed the part about soaking and was in the process of making dinner. I put the cashews in water and threw it in the microwave for 4 minutes, drained and cooled while working on another part. It worked for me. The cashews were soft and the recipe turned out great!
Hello, I did not soak the cashews and it still came out great. I made it in a food processor. I love this dressing. Today was the first time using it. Thanks for sharing
That’s good to know! So glad you enjoyed it 🙂
I love the idea of this! Will this “keep” in the fridge for a while? I’d like to double the recipe and just pull it from the fridge when I need it, like a store-bought (preservative-laden) salad dressing. About how long should I expect for it to say good if kept in a fridge?
Hi there, like I said in the post, it won’t be pourable straight from the fridge because the fat in the coconut milk will solidify. You can either warm it slightly, leave it at room temperature ahead of time or reblend it to get the normal consistency. It will stay fresh as long as the herbs in the mixture – so if you used dry herbs, I’d say about a week or so.
I just started paleo about two weeks ago and am struggling a bit with the lack of choices. Happy I found this :o)
Thank you so much! I didn’t have the chives and I know it would have made it even better! LOVE it.
I just made it and it is AWESOME, I’m not a huge ranch dressing fan (probably because I’ve only ever had store bought). I didn’t soak the cashews (instant gratification problems, I have) and just threw them in my vitamix, it ground them fine and then I added the coconut milk and blended again and then the rest of the ingredients. I had no problems and it’s amazing. Thanks!
Ha! Yay for the Vitamix! Glad you enjoyed the recipe, thanks for stopping by to let me know 🙂
Accidentally doubled some of the spices, but still amazing! I’ve missed my ranch! Thank you!
So I read that it lasts about a week in the fridge, right? What if you don’t’ store in fridge? This seems so odd to me because of the other dressings we’ve always used in the past.
Since this recipe doesn’t have any chemical stabilizers or preservatives, it wouldn’t last very long outside of the fridge: the coconut milk and the nuts would go rancid, I’m afraid.
Yay! Glad you found something that you like! 🙂
What type of coconut milk do you use? Like the canned thick milk or like store bought brands like silk and so delicious? Just wondering what would make it the best! Thanks!
I use a canned brand – like this one – without preservatives or gums. Full fat — none of that watered down “lite” stuff! 🙂
Bless you! This is delicious, and makes my 1-2 cups of veg taste like a real treat. Thanks so much for posting it.
Aw, that’s fantastic to hear, thank you!
I’ve never been able to make a homemade dressing that’s creamy enough for me. This one turned out very thin as well. It didn’t thicken up at all in the fridge. It’s just like water. All I had was light coconut milk, so maybe that’s the problem. Cashews didn’t seem to do anything. I think I may have to get some xanthan gum. Would rather not use an additive, but from what I’ve read that seems to do the trick. I don’t eat bottled dressings anymore but sometimes get tired of my vinaigrette and miss a good creamy italian or ranch. Will keep trying.
It’s the light coconut milk that’s the problem. “Light” coconut milk is simply coconut milk with water added to thin it out – in other words, it has much less fat and fiber and you need those things to make a creamy dressing. Try it out with normal full fat coconut milk and you won’t need any additives. For other uses, if you prefer the thinner texture of “light” coconut milk, it’s cheaper to buy the full fat version and add your own water to thin it to suit 🙂