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Hidden Valley has 7 new ranch flavors including Cheez-It: Here’s my definitive ranking

Is it possible to improve on the dressing that’s already America’s favorite? Yes, I found out, it is.
Hidden Valley Ranch New Flavors
It turns out too much ranch is almost enough.Heather Martin

Caption: Hidden Valley’s seven new ranch flavors are quite the dizzying array.

Ranch dressing is one of the foundational flavors of the last 70 years of American cuisine. Invented in 1954 by guest ranch owner Steve Henson, it wasn’t long before its popularity led to Henson founding a company just to sell it, Hidden Valley Ranch. Although it has been the top-selling dressing in the United States for decades, it’s not just for salad anymore; it’s in one of the most-pinned recipes ever, ubiquitous for dipping everything from hot wings to baby carrots, and it’s even obligatory in pizza parlors.

With that history, it might seem like all the ranch possibilities have been exhausted, but Hidden Valley begs to differ. They’ve got not just one new flavor this spring, but seven.

The biggest newsmaker is definitely their partnership with Cheez-It crackers to bring Cheezy Ranch to the shelves, but the remaining six sound worthy of attention, too: Garlic, Nashville Hot, Creamy Jalapeño, Spicy Hot Honey, Green Goddess and Parmesan. They will be rolling out to Walmart and Kroger stores in late March and April, respectively, and the 20-ounce bottles will retail for $5.99.

Which ranch is the best ranch? In truth, there are no losers when it comes to America’s favorite dressing, but some are a little more successful than others. I tried all seven, and here’s my ranking:

7. Nashville Hot Ranch

Hidden Valley Ranch New Flavors
Courtesy Hidden Valley Ranch

While this flavor does live up to its hype in terms of heat (it’s listed as the hottest of the new flavors), we think of Nashville Hot as a bright, cayenne pepper flavor. This one has a prominent, smoky chili powder bite, with a less noticeable ranch aspect. If you’re looking for an enchilada-style note for your burger or nachos, this might fit the bill, but otherwise, it’s the least versatile of the lineup.

6. Spicy Hot Honey Ranch

Hidden Valley Ranch New Flavors
Courtesy Hidden Valley Ranch

Although there’s some sweetness and a genuine kick, we wished for more honey flavor. The label shows serving it with pizza, and that’s probably the best use for it, but it wouldn’t go amiss on fries or mixed with ketchup or mustard on a burger.

5. Parmesan Ranch

Hidden Valley Ranch New Flavors
Courtesy Hidden Valley Ranch

Like the other cheesy flavors, there’s real cheese in the Parmesan Ranch, enough to have some texture. It’s a less complex Caesar: There’s no anchovy and it’s Parm all the way. That makes it perfect for some uses, like vegetable dips or chicken sandwiches, but the strong flavor might overpower dishes where you want different components to hold their own. This is a great choice if you’re trying to cut a few calories, though, because just a little still has lots of flavor.

4. Cheez-It Cheezy Ranch

Hidden Valley Ranch New Flavors
Courtesy Hidden Valley Ranch

Cheez-It devotees would do well to remember that although it has the signature real cheddar tang, it’s still Cheez-It Ranch and not Ranch Cheez-Its. The cheddar-y flavor hits first, but it’s overtaken by (delicious) ranch pretty quickly. This one really sings on a salad with chopped Granny Smith apple, but it would also be excellent on a baked potato or nachos. It might be the best one to stock for a cookout, too, in terms of versatility.

It’s hard to choose a favorite with these last three; they’re equally successful in terms of capturing a specific flavor, and which one you choose comes down to what’s on the menu.

3. Green Goddess Ranch

Hidden Valley Ranch New Flavors
Courtesy Hidden Valley Ranch

This beauty is for pesto worshippers, sporting an intensely fresh basil punch. We think this is the best of the new flavors to use as an actual salad dressing, especially for a spring mix with avocado and tomatoes. It would also work beautifully to finish a cream sauce for chicken or asparagus, or to top grilled salmon.

2. Creamy Jalapeño

Hidden Valley Ranch New Flavors
Courtesy Hidden Valley Ranch

Jalapeño as an ingredient is sometimes reduced to just heat, but here, the mid-range spiciness lets the essence of fresh green jalapeño shine through. Somehow, it’s still true to the heart of ranch flavor as well. It would make a fantastic drizzled finish to soup or chili. It would excel on just about anything, really, from salad to fries to pizza, but we plan to put it on tacos as soon as possible.

1. Garlic Ranch

Hidden Valley Ranch New Flavors
Courtesy Hidden Valley Ranch

Don’t let the simple, familiar name dissuade you from trying the new version. This one reminds us of ranch mixed with pizza parlor garlic sauce, with a fabulous buttery backdrop and enough garlic to make your Bolognese blush. Try it on a steak salad, smashed potatoes, raw broccoli or, of course, a giant slice of pepperoni pizza.