How to Formulate Low-Fat Ranch Dressing With Clean Labels

Formulate low fat ranch dressing

Americans love ranch dressing. It’s the most popular salad dressing, beating out Italian, Thousand Island, blue cheese and Caesar by a landslide. Whether they’re putting it on salads, dipping their buffalo wings in it, or drizzling it over pizza, there are about a million different ways consumers use it. Maybe that’s why Americans use nearly three times as much ranch as any other prepared salad dressing flavor.

While it’s clear we have a love affair for this creamy dressing, not all ranch is created equal. When comparing fresh refrigerated dressing brands and restaurant dressings prepared on site to pre-packaged ranch dressing that sits on grocery store shelves, the result is clear. Consumers prefer the taste and texture of the dairy-based, fresh brands much more than their preservative-packed counterparts

Unfortunately, what they don’t prefer is the increased fat and calorie content and the limited shelf life that often comes with them.

And thus begins the dressing dilemma…

Full-Fat vs. Low-Fat Salad Dressing

Classic homemade ranch dressing recipes contain a perfect blend of spices including onion powder, garlic powder, dried dill or fresh dill, parsley, chives, salt and pepper. Of course, you can’t forget the savory ingredients such as full-fat buttermilk, heavy cream, sour cream and sometimes mayonnaise or olive oil. Some formulators step outside tradition by formulating a tangy Greek yogurt ranch dressing. It’s these savory ingredients that give it that signature creamy texture and mouthfeel…but also stack on the fat and calories.

For years, chefs and food scientists have relied on two competing options: go full-flavor (a.k.a. full fat content) OR go with a lower-fat or fat-free option that likely sacrificed taste and texture and didn’t comply with clean label initiatives

To make up for the lack of flavor and consistency, many in the food and beverage industry added artificial flavors and colors and packed salad dressings with sodium, preservatives and sugars like high-fructose corn syrup.

Because many low-fat salad dressing formulations end up replacing fat with a litany of questionable ingredients, the nutrition facts reveal that they are anything but “healthy” in the eyes of medical professionals and discerning consumers.

RELATED: Changing Consumer Attitudes Toward “Low Fat” and What it Means for Food Manufacturers

It’s been a constant battle to find a happy medium between full-fat and low-fat dressings. Despite their best efforts and numerous attempts, few food manufacturers have been able to replicate the taste and texture of the high quality, refrigerated restaurant-style dressings in a lower-cost and lower-fat application. 

But other food and beverage manufacturers have met the challenge of formulating a shelf-stable and healthy ranch dressing. They use all-natural whey protein concentrate as an alternative to cream, oil, sour cream and other high-fat ingredients in their salad dressing formulations.

How All-Natural Whey Protein Improves Nutrition, Taste and Texture 

Using an exclusive, proprietary production process, Grande Custom Ingredients Group developed Grande Bravo®a functional whey protein concentrate that is very different from commodity whey proteins. Grande Bravo has distinct water-holding capabilities that allow it to replace high-fat dairy ingredients and maintain the silky texture and mouthfeel of full-fat dressings. 

The Grande Bravo product line has several variations designed to provide different flavor and texture options that meet varying formulation challenges. By focusing on functionality, we are able to create a versatile ingredient that can be used as a low-cost, low-fat replacement for expensive, high-fat dairy ingredients such as cream, butter, fat, and cream cheese

Bravo Relative Functional CharacteristicsAs a result, food scientists are able to streamline their supply chains, lower the cost of their ingredients and reduce the fat and calorie content. Most importantly, they are able to maintain the same high quality, great taste and texture of the original

An additional benefit of using whey protein concentrate in salad dressing applications is its shelf-stable properties. Grande Bravo whey protein powders are shelf stable for up to 18 months, require no special handling, refrigeration or inventory controls. It also boasts a strict chain of custody and is sourced from Grade A dairy farms located in America’s Heartland that uphold the strictest quality controls and ethical treatment of animals. 

Case Studies Prove Whey Protein Concentrate Functionality

Similarly to salad dressings, Alfredo sauce formulations are notoriously high in fat and calories. One manufacturer was able to achieve a 50% reduction in heavy cream by using Grande Bravo. As a result, not only did they cut their expenses on cream in half, their new formulation also contained 30% less fat than the traditional recipe. This resulted in a lower-cost, lower-fat solution that still provided the same authentic Alfredo sauce taste and mouthfeel.

View this case study featuring a creamy Alfredo sauce and a cheese sauce to see how others achieved significant improvements at a cost savings. 

Another food manufacturer used Grande Bravo whey protein concentrate to reduce the fat, calories and cost in a new product launch of their spinach and artichoke dip — while maintaining a creamy texture. The R&D team at Grande Custom Ingredients Group collaborated with the company’s formulators to develop a formulation with 50% less fat and 23% fewer calories than their original version. They also experienced a savings of more than 25% in dairy ingredient costs.

Improving quality and reducing costs does not need to be at odds. To learn more about how you can use Grande Bravo to create great tasting lower-cost, lower-fat alternatives for your dairy-based sauces, dressings and other applications, please contact us today!

Reformulations reduce ingredient costs and improve quality. Alfredo sauce. Cheese Sauce. Get the infographic.

Consumers Demand Reduced Sodium. A guide to consumers changing perceptions. Download.