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We Tried Hidden Valley Ranch Cheez-It Dressing: Here's What You Need To Know

Cheez-It ranch dressing and Cheez-Its on salad
Cheez-It ranch dressing and Cheez-Its on salad - Matt Malmlund/Mashed

If there's one thing that goes well with just about anything, it's ranch dressing. This rich and tangy condiment has proven its versatility with successful flavor combinations like bacon ranch, jalapeño ranch, and avocado ranch. Now, you can add Cheez-Its to the list as well. Yes, you read that correctly. Hidden Valley recently launched a new Cheezy Ranch Dressing in collaboration with the world's most popular cheese cracker brand, and the company provided us with a bottle so we could try the new flavor for ourselves.

Unsurprisingly, this isn't the first time that a brand has blended the flavor of ranch dressing with cheddar cheese crackers. Cheez-Its previously released a Zesty Cheddar Ranch Grooves cracker variety, which we also sampled for our Cheez-Its power ranking. Unfortunately, it scored dead last out of 24 flavors. Is the Hidden Valley Ranch Cheez-It Dressing any more successful at merging these two tangy and delightful flavors? We'll go over that and a whole lot more in this in-depth review. But first, let's cover some key information about this product.

Read more: The Most Unique Chip Flavors Ever To Grace Store Shelves

Surprisingly, It Contains Real Cheese

cheez-it ranch dressing and cheez-its
cheez-it ranch dressing and cheez-its - Matt Malmlund/Mashed

Though unscrupulous brands like Cheez Whiz have conditioned us to associate alternate spellings of food ingredients with processed alternatives, the spelling of Hidden Valley's Cheezy Ranch Dressing is strictly a branding move. The ingredients list of this dressing indicates that it is, in fact, made with real cheddar cheese, just like Cheez-It crackers. So, no need to worry. In the case of both this dressing and Cheez-It crackers, the "Z" in the name is just for style.

Aside from the addition of cheddar cheese, the ingredients list is functionally the same as the original Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing or really any commercially prepared ranch dressing -- though we're not sure many people know what ranch flavor really is. Other key ingredients include water, vegetable oil, buttermilk, sugar, and salt. Presumably, it also includes egg yolk since that is included in the original flavor and eggs are listed in the allergens section of the ingredient. However, this ingredient is conspicuously absent from the ingredients list.

It's Cheaper Than Buying Cheez-Its And Ranch Dressing Separately

cheez-it ranch dressing on a plate with carrots
cheez-it ranch dressing on a plate with carrots - Matt Malmlund/Mashed

The new Hidden Valley Cheezy Ranch Dressing is a little pricier than the original flavor, but this is expected since innovation of this caliber doesn't happen for free. The manufacturer's suggested retail price of this product is $5.99 for a 20-ounce bottle, which is only nominally more expensive than the original ranch flavor. At the time of writing, a 20-ounce bottle of the original Hidden Valley Ranch is listed for $4.88 on Walmart's website. For additional reference, 20-ounce bottles of other specialty flavors like Buffalo Ranch are also $4.88 at Walmart.

The takeaway here? The next time you have both Cheez-Its and ranch dressing on your grocery list, you can save a couple of bucks by just getting a bottle of Hidden Valley Cheezy Ranch Dressing instead. Sure, you'll forego the spectacular crunch of the cheese crackers, but perhaps you can channel your cravings for crispiness into desire for a healthy garden salad. Okay, maybe that's a bit optimistic.

It's Available At Select Stores Only

a hand holding a bottle of cheez-it ranch dressing
a hand holding a bottle of cheez-it ranch dressing - Matt Malmlund/Mashed

Are you wondering where you can get your hands on this new product for yourself? Hidden Valley Cheezy Ranch Dressing is available for purchase at Walmart starting in late March and at Kroger grocery stores in April. This is a nationwide product release, but the Cheezy Ranch Dressing is being released only at these two stores, making it a somewhat exclusive offering. The release coincides with National Ranch Dressing Day, which is March 10. This spring, we'll also see Hidden Valley introducing six other new ranch varieties, which, sadly, are not snack brand collaborations themselves.

It is not yet known how long these new flavors will be available. That means it's very likely that the fate of Hidden Valley Cheezy Ranch Dressing rests on the success of its initial launch. So, regardless of our final verdict on this dressing, anyone who values the option to make a Cheez-It-flavored salad as a quick weeknight meal should probably go buy a bottle.

It's Somehow Healthier Than Normal Ranch

cheez-it ranch dressing and cheez-its from behind
cheez-it ranch dressing and cheez-its from behind - Matt Malmlund/Mashed

Ranch dressing is not the healthiest dressing or condiment choice, as its oil and buttermilk base makes it generally calorie-dense. A single 100-calorie serving of Hidden Valley's Cheezy Ranch Dressing is about 2 tablespoons or about 30 milliliters. That's about the size of a jumbo marshmallow. These calories account for 11 grams of total fat (1.5 grams of which is saturated fat), 150 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of added sugars.

To our surprise, Hidden Valley's Cheezy Ranch Dressing is actually marginally healthier than the brand's original dressing. The difference is minor but still noteworthy, especially considering this recipe adds cheddar cheese to the equation. Our best guess as to why is that Hidden Valley had to dilute the core ranch flavor somewhat so that the cheese flavor could cut through the mix. All this said, you should still be conscious of your portion sizes when consuming Cheezy Ranch Dressing.

The Final Verdict: It's Actually Pretty Good

cheez-it ranch dressing on a pizza
cheez-it ranch dressing on a pizza - Matt Malmlund/Mashed

Now, the moment we've all been waiting for. It's finally time to talk about the flavor. For starters, the new dressing is way better than we expected it to be. You are greeted with a tangy and herbaceous ranch flavor at first bite, and that's definitely something Hidden Valley knows how to do right when compared with other brands. Only after this initial rush of flavor settles in does the mild cheddar cheese flavor break through, leaving a distinctly cheesy aftertaste.

The cheese flavor doesn't necessarily scream Cheez-Its, but rather it has a note of ballpark nacho cheese nuance. Granted, that could be a psychosomatic effect of its saucy texture. Ultimately, the sweet and nutty cheese flavor is a welcome addition to the ranch flavor profile. Plus, the Venn diagram of dishes that go well with both cheese and ranch dressing is surprisingly inclusive.

The Hidden Valley Cheezy Ranch Dressing was a star when served atop chopped romaine lettuce and downright delicious as a pizza condiment. Although we alluded to it possibly being a bit watery earlier, it turned out to be the perfect consistency for both coating and dipping. It also has a Cheez-It orange hue that adds a lovely pop of color to any dish.

It Might Be Better Than Other Ranch Flavors

cheez-it ranch dressing and ranch flavored cheez-its
cheez-it ranch dressing and ranch flavored cheez-its - Matt Malmlund/Mashed

You may be surprised to find that Hidden Valley Cheezy Ranch Dressing is actually a hit. We are too. But how does it compare to Hidden Valley's original dressing? That depends on just how much you like cheddar cheese. If you're snobby about your cheese choices, you might prefer to skip out on the Cheezy Ranch Dressing. As for us, we love all cheeses.

When it comes to the different foods we sampled it with, Cheezy Ranch Dressing is an all-around upgrade over plain ranch. We might be inclined to opt for classic ranch if there were any traditional dishes that specifically called for it, but there aren't any. Ranch is a fun salad dressing! It also makes a great dip. We tried it with a fresh, sliced carrot, but it would be equally good with chicken wings, with pretzel bites, or on a burger. Plus, remember those ranch-flavored Cheez-Its we mentioned at the top of the article? This Cheez-It-flavored ranch is a hundred times better.

Methodology

cheez it ranch dressing on a pizza, salad, and carrots
cheez it ranch dressing on a pizza, salad, and carrots - Matt Malmlund/Mashed

Now that we've made known our opinion on Hidden Valley Cheezy Ranch Dressing, let's talk a bit about how we reached that opinion. Considering that taste is a highly subjective quality, we recognize the inherent biases that come from ranking food. Nonetheless, we tried to offer a minimally biased appraisal of this food product based on its taste, texture, and how well it worked as a substitute for traditional ranch in common snack pairings. We also paid special consideration to how well it incorporated the Cheez-It flavor.

Although this product was provided for free to us by a representative from Hidden Valley, the company had no input on the contents of the article. The opinions stated here are exclusively those of the author.

Read the original article on Mashed.