Skip to Content

Does ranch sauce go with pizza?

Ranch dressing is a creamy, herbaceous sauce that has become a staple condiment in the United States. Known for its tangy, cool flavor profile, ranch pairs well with crispy, fried foods like chicken fingers, french fries, and buffalo wings. But does ranch belong on pizza? This is a debate that has passionately divided pizza lovers for decades.

In this article, we will explore the history of ranch, analyze its flavor profile, examine the popularity of ranch pizza, and weigh the pros and cons of this controversial combination. Whether you are a ranch loyalist or a purist who believes that red sauce reigns supreme, read on to learn more about one of America’s favorite condiments and its place in pizza tradition.

The History of Ranch Dressing

To understand the ranch pizza debate, it helps to understand ranch. This creamy white dressing was born in the 1950s on a dude ranch in Santa Barbara, California aptly named Hidden Valley Ranch. The spice mix was originally used to flavor the homemade buttermilk served to guests. It became so popular that the owners began packaging seasonings that could be mixed with mayo and buttermilk at home.

Hidden Valley Ranch was a success, and Kraft Foods acquired the brand in the 1970s. Bottled ranch dressings soon followed, allowing consumers to skip the homemade step. Through innovative marketing and the American affinity for creamy, cooling condiments, ranch became a best-selling staple across the U.S.

It’s no surprise that a dressing birthed on a ranch soon made its way into another Western U.S. staple – pizza. Pizza has always been a flexible and customizable dish, with endless regional variations across styles, sauces, and toppings. Ranch dressing was a natural addition to pizzerias looking to offer customers new flavors.

The Flavor Profile of Ranch Dressing

Ranch is cooling, tangy, creamy, and fresh – all qualities that complement hot, crispy, savory foods. But ranch also has a distinctive spice blend that gives it character. So what exactly gives ranch its signature zing? While recipes vary, most ranch dressings contain some combination of these ingredients:

  • Mayonnaise – A creamy, fatty base that contributes richness and moisture.
  • Buttermilk – Provides tang and balances the richness of mayo.
  • Sour cream – Adds even more cool, creamy texture.
  • Garlic powder – Gives ranch its savory, aromatic quality.
  • Onion powder – Adds subtle sweet onion flavor.
  • Dill – Provides herbal freshness.
  • Parsley – Also contributes an herbal note.
  • Chives – Delivers subtle onion and garlic flavors.
  • Black pepper – Adds a little spice.

Combined properly, these ingredients create a sauce that is refreshing on its own but also complements fried and spicy foods. The cooling dairy provides balance, while the herbs and spices add layers of flavor. This winning combination helps explain why ranch became a national sensation as a dipping sauce and sandwich topping.

The Popularity of Ranch Pizza

Pizza purists insist that pizza should be topped sparingly to preserve the perfect balance of crust, sauce, and cheese. Ranch defenders argue that this versatile dressing adds welcome moisture and herb flavor to an otherwise salty, greasy slice. Arguments aside, ranch pizza has become popular nationwide:

  • A 2019 survey found ranch dressing to be the 3rd most popular pizza topping in the U.S. after pepperoni and extra cheese.
  • 29% of respondents in a 2016 Harris Poll chose ranch dressing as their favorite pizza topping.
  • Major pizza chains like Domino’s and Pizza Hut now offer ranch as an optional topping or dipping sauce.
  • There are numerous recipes online for homemade ranch pizza featuring chicken, bacon, and other toppings.

Thenumbers indicate that while ranch pizza may not have mainstream approval, it has earned a cult following of loyal fans.

The Case for Ranch on Pizza

Ranch advocates argue that this dressing has several qualities that make it a delicious pizza topping:

  • Cooling effect: The creamy base offsets the hot temperature of pizza fresh from the oven.
  • Moisture: Ranch adds needed moisture to pizza, which can often be dry and salty.
  • Herbs: The dill, chives, parsley and other herbs provide freshness.
  • Spices: The black pepper, garlic, and other spices complement typical pizza toppings.
  • Tang: The vinegary tang cuts through grease and provides a flavor contrast.
  • Customization: Ranch allows customers to add the creamy accompaniment of their choice.

For ranch advocates, the dressing checks all the boxes – cooling, moisture, freshness, and flavor enhancement. It elevates a plain cheese slice and complements favorites like pepperoni and veggie pizzas.

The Case Against Ranch on Pizza

Pizza traditionalists argue that ranch has no place on an artisanal pizza crafted with quality ingredients. They cite several issues with treating pizza like a salad:

  • Clashes with red sauce: The flavors and textures don’t necessarily mix well.
  • Obscures other flavors: Unique ingredients and seasonings get lost under thick ranch.
  • Makes dough soggy: Pizza needs structural integrity, and ranch sauce makes crust limp.
  • Too heavy: Loads of ranch weighs down pizza and ruins the balance.
  • Wrong flavor profile: Savory pizza doesn’t need extra richness from mayo and sour cream.
  • Masks flaws: Mediocre pizza needs ranch to add moisture and flavor.

For pizza traditionalists, liquid ranch has no place on a carefully crafted artisanal pizza. In their view, high-quality pizza should need no sauces or seasonings beyond a well-made crust, tomato sauce, cheese, and judicious toppings.

The Verdict on Ranch Pizza

The debate over ranch dressing on pizza has passionate backers on both sides. Upon weighing the history, flavor profiles, and arguments for and against, what’s the final verdict?

Ranch works on some types of pizza

Ranch dressing pairs best with basic pizza styles featuring traditional toppings. The cooling dairy beautifully complements pepperoni, sausage, onions, peppers, and other classic ingredients. Ranch also helps balance the textural contrast of crispy crust and melted cheese with moisture and tang.

Ranch overpowers gourmet pizza

Gourmet pizzas with specialty ingredients, creative flavor combinations, and distinct seasoning blends don’t need – and often clash with – extra ranch dressing. The delicate balance achieved by artisanal ingredients and scratch-made sauce is best enjoyed as the pizza maker intended.

Ranch is no remedy for poor quality

Mediocre pizza made with subpar ingredients does benefit from added ranch. But that’s not ranch’s fault! No amount of extra sauce can rescue bad pizza not worth eating in the first place.

Ranch is a fresh, customizable option

Applied judiciously, ranch can provide welcome moisture, herbs, and tang. Pizza is all about customization. For ranch lovers, it’s nice having the option to add this favorite condiment.

Tradition has its place

Classic pizza styles have endured for good reason. In venues focused on authentic Italian pizza, traditional expectations make sense. But even in Italy, trends evolve!


The ranch dressing debate may never reach consensus in the pizza world. Pizza traditionalists argue it has no place sullying great pizza. Ranch fans believe that its cooling effect and flavor deserve a spot next to more accepted toppings. Upon review, both sides have good points. Ranch complements basic pizza nicely but overpowers gourmet versions. As a fresh, moisturizing option, its popularity makes sense – but moderation is key. Tradition is important, but even in Italy, new styles emerge. The verdict: ranch dressing can be a delicious addition to pizza, as long as used judiciously to enhance – not obscure – quality ingredients. Regardless of preference, pizza remains a customizable dish open to new traditions.


  1. “The History of Ranch.” Hidden Valley Ranch. Accessed 1 October 2023.
  2. McCormack, Lindsey. “America’s Favorite Pizza Toppings By State.” Delish. Accessed 1 October 2023.
  3. Dunifon, Rachel. “Veg Out: What Are the Most Popular Vegetable Pizza Toppings?” Pizza Today. Accessed 2 October 2023.
  4. Pizza Ranch. “Pizza Ranch Survey Reveals America’s Favorite Pizza Toppings.” Accessed 2 October 2023.