The One Ingredient That Shouldn't Be In The Ranch Dressing You're Eating

Ranch dressing is among the most well-known of America's culinary contributions. It is right up there with Buffalo wings and the American version of pizza. Oddly enough, it goes well with both of these foods as well. Ranch is also well-known as a salad dressing, and dry ranch packets are great in any number of recipes.

Despite its versatility, however, it's a surprisingly misunderstood sauce. People assume it is simple or that it's just a little dill thrown into some kind of cream base. As The New York Times explains, the sauce actually requires a wide range of spices. While it does use a cream base, the dressing is anything but simple. The New York Times traces the sauce's origins to a special offering at Hidden Valley Ranch in Santa Barbara, California. Ranch chefs in the 1950s added 8 different dried herbs to a half-and-half mix of buttermilk and either sour cream or mayonnaise.

Eventually, the sauce became so popular that Hidden Valley became better known as a condiment brand than a guest ranch. Copycats and variations arrived on the market soon after, each with their own specific herbal blend. This boom in variety means that ranch dressing can now have several unique ingredients, but there is one specific addition that some people may want to avoid.

The wrong kind of gum

Whether it is the original Hidden Valley recipe as shared by The New York Times or a more recent twist from the Food Network, homemade ranch recipes contain a wide range of ingredients. Few people would be surprised to hear that prepackaged ranch sauces contain ingredients that don't exist in homemade versions. Most of them are used as preservatives, but one specific common additive may give some people pause.

Xanthan gum is a common food additive, according to WebMD. It thickens and stabilizes foods and medicine, as well as some kinds of toothpaste. When consumed in moderation, xanthan gum has little to no effect on the human body. If a person takes in too much, however, it can cause bloating and gas (via WebMD).

Both Kraft ranch and Hidden Valley's bottled versions (via Target) contain xanthan gum. It's hard to imagine that anyone would eat enough bottled ranch to set off the additive's side effects, but xanthan gum is common in many products, and consuming it from multiple sources can add up. To be on the safe side, people prone to bloating or gas may want to skip the bottled versions and whip up some ranch at home the next time they get a craving for that all-American dressing.