Monday, October 13, 2008

Copy Cat Recipes for Game Day

Game day. It didn’t mean anything to me two years ago, then Jim came into my life and my eyes have been opened to what watching the NFL on Sunday is all about. Food! No, it’s actually about Beer! Maybe the combination of the two along with rooting for your favorite team. I have really had a good time learning about football, there are A LOT of rules and Jim has been so patient to answer my questions and explain the calls on the field.

For game day this week I wanted to see if I could recreate two of my favorite restaurant dips. Chuy’s is a Tex Mex restaurant chain in Texas. They have locations in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. If you live outside this great state of Texas however, I’ve found a copy cat recipe for their “OH MY, THIS IS SO GOOD I WANT TO EAT IT ON EVERYTHING” Jalapeno Ranch dip. At Chuy’s they will serve this alongside their salsa with chips. I like to put this on my enchiladas and refried beans too.

My favorite hot sauce can actually be found in some grocery stores - it's the On The Border Salsa in Medium Heat. On The Border Mexican Grille and Cantina is more widely known with restaurants in over 30 states in the USA. We are glad that we can buy this in the store and bring home, but I can't keep this in my pantry - I love it so much we are always out of it. I'm so excited to try this copy cat Salsa recipe too.

Let's start with the Chuy's Jalapeno Ranch Dip.

Here is what you will need. I cut this recipe by ¼ because Jim and I don’t need this much Jalapeno Ranch Dip around the house. And still, even making ¼ of this recipe was enough to split in half and send down to my neighbor Oscar who is a salsa loving expert.

1 quart mayo
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup jalapenos, canned & a little of the juice
1 cup tomatillo sauce
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 packs dry Ranch mix

One cup of real mayo.
1/4 cup buttermilk.
1/4 bunch of cilantro and 1/4 cup jalapeno. And after I blended and tasted, I ended up adding another 1/4 cup of jalapenos. So in my opinion, 1/2 cup jalapenos with about two tablespoons of the vinegar is best.
One package of Ranch dressing powder. Found near salad dressings at the grocery store.

1/4 cup tomatillo salsa. If you have time, I love this homemade recipe for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa. In a pinch for time, the jarred stuff works just fine here.
Then just pulse and blend for 10-15 seonds in your blender or cuisinart.
This is really creamy and herby with a slight kick from the jalapenos.
I like the way this dip turned out although I think it is slightly (very slightly) off from how Chuy's does it. I know sometimes flavor can be lost when you half or quarter a recipe and I wonder if that happened here. I would guess that substituting regular milk for the buttermilk would reduce the tang that I feel is slightly too strong in this dip. Actually, the measurements for the dry ranch mix in the original recipe was three packets. When I cut the recipe by 1/4 I went ahead and added one whole packet because dividing that into fourths was too complicated for me to do quickly. Maybe adding less than one packet of ranch mix would have been better.

Here is the recipe I found online for the On The Border copy cat Salsa:

2 large Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes (Mexican style)
2 jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cumin, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/3 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, to taste
I decided to half this recipe, since Jim and I don't need a gallon of this stuff. If it turns out well, I will research how long I can keep this in the fridge - then maybe I will make a gallon to store.
One roma tomato.
One can of diced tomatoes with green chiles.
Put your gloves on for this next part.
Half a jalapeno and remove seeds. Careful, these little buggers can really burn your skin.
Add to your cuisinart mix.
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar.
1 Tablespoon cumin.
1 teaspoon minced garlic.
The recipe calls for a vidalia onion which my grocery store didn't have so I used a white onion. I think a vidalia onion would have given the salsa a sweeter flavor without the bite that I think the white onion gave.

I washed a half bunch of cilantro and threw it all in.
Now blend. Since this was very thick and layered in the cuisinart, I pulsed about 10 times, then opened and stirred from bottom to top a little, then put the lid back on and pulsed 10 more times.
This texture is a little different than what I buy in the jar. The jar version from On The Border has larger chunks of tomatoes. Next time I might withhold the chopped roma tomato until the very last 5 pulses.
The flavor is VERY close to how I like it. I think using a different onion would have made a big difference, but I like this a lot and will definitely try this again with the full batch.

Oscar? Have you had a chance to sample these two dips? I'd love to hear what you think of them!
*************UPDATE 10/14/08*************

I received Oscar’s comments on the dip and salsa. He is a lover of salsa, so his opinion means a lot to me. Let’s start with his review of the jalapeno ranch dip. He agreed that it was too “ranchy” and I believe it was because I added a whole package of dry ranch powder. He also commented it was too thick and I can agree with that too. I already suggested substituting plain milk for buttermilk which I think will make the dip thinner and less “tangy.” And I suppose, at the end of mixing, you could simply pour in more milk to thin it as much as you like. This dip was really good and he had a lot of great things to say about it.

The salsa he said was “REEEEEALY GOOD” and that made me so happy to hear. In Texas, there is a lot of competition for “good salsa” and everyone has their own preference on what is good. He thought it had an overly powerful garlic flavor and I can see where he taste that. I love garlic and I even had that thought cross my mind too. I only added a teaspoon of minced garlic which adds up to two garlic cloves. I have to remember however that raw garlic is VERY potent, so next time I will either sweat them first in a skillet and/or only use half a teaspoon. I think the onion should be substituted also for a sweet Vidalia onion. Oscar commented positively on the liquid to chunky ratio saying it was perfect, not too chunky, not too watered down. This is a real winner. I will continue to make this EASY salsa for parties and tweaking it ever so slightly until I one day will be able to enter it into one of the thousands of salsa competitions in Texas and WIN! I need to come up with a name for my salsa, I can’t enter it as “On The Border Copy Cat Salsa” because I’m changing some things as I go along I can claim it as my own. Any ideas?

Thanks Oscar for your feedback. Thanks to everyone who reads this blog and leaves a comment. They are ALWAYS appreciated and I believe it makes me a better cook.


  1. Oh that looks good! I can't wait to try it. Thanks!!


  2. Your pictures are so vibrant! Lovely colour. I don't think they sell powdered ranch dressing over here, so I will have to stick to that gorgeous salsa.

  3. They both sound sooo good!! My husband has been the same way with me about baseball - very patient in explaining everything. i think he just likes that I'm even interested!!

    And about the RR magazine - I totally agree! I haven't been bookmarking much from my food magazines lately, but this issue has SO much marked! I can't wait to try it all!

  4. I love game is another excuse to eat fun food. The salsa looks fantastic!

  5. Liz, You have a giveaway every day? How do you do that? I’d like to start doing giveaways on my site too. Tell me more!!

    Foodycat, Too bad about the powdered ranch dressing – however, Pioneer Woman has a great recipe on her site for homemade ranch. I bet you could use that as your base and then omit the mayo and add the spice! Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment.

    Deborah, I only do it because it makes him so happy that I’m interested in it too. Be sure to tell me about other RR recipes you make from that magazine issue.

    Thanks Bridgett, I’m really getting into game day food. This is fun!

  6. Ooh, nice I need to go to ross and find some cool stuff!

  7. Oh gosh....Chuy's creamy jalepeno!!! You really could eat that on just about everything! Forget having a few chips...that stuff is addicting, not to mention their salsa. Thanks for the recipes! (I buy the OTB Medium Salsa,'s our favorite!)

  8. Try using 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup milk and a little lime juice. I will just give you my recipe so maybe you can compare the 2.
    Jalapeno Ranch
    In bowl combine
    1 Buttermilk Ranch Mix packet.
    2 cups mayo
    2 cups buttermilk (or 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup milk)

    In a blender combine
    2 tomatillos
    1 jalapeno, seeded
    1/2 - 1 bunch cilantro {we always use the whole bunch}
    1 Tbs lime juice
    1 clove garlic, crushed

    Mix the two together and refrigerate.

  9. When I make salsa I add a tsp of sugar and that cuts down on the strong garlic taste and gives it a little different taste. my family loves it!

    1. I never thought of doing that! Great tip Rebekah!

  10. This is great feedback, thanks for all the comment love. -Mandy

  11. Mandy, thank-you so much for these recipes! I made both for our neighbourhood Superbowl party yesterday (I'm not native to Texas, so I feel free to interpret "Superbowl" as a food festival with some football thrown in, right?). Both were big hits. After reading your comments, I substituted half-and-half cream for the buttermilk, which probably added another 3000 calories but it was soooooo good. I think we have a new tradition now, thanks to you. :-)

    1. When it's superbowl, calories shouldn't count! Glad you liked this.

  12. I've been making Chuy's dip for around 10 years and this is the recipe that I was given:
    8 oz. cream cheese
    16 oz. sour cream
    1 pkg. dry Hidden Valley Buttermilk salad dressing mix
    4-6 oz can jalapenos
    1/3 bunch cilantro
    Put everything into a blender and just keep blending until everything is all mixed up. It will take at least 7-8 times of pushing the blend button. The thing that makes it thicker or runny is the amount of jalapeno juice that you use. I usually use some of the juice from the can, but not all of it. Super yummy!!!

  13. Thanks for the recipes; i love a good salsa and have to make my own as purchased is always way too hot for me. i'll change that to suit myself as i go through your recipes. Just thought i'd let you know you're saying tsp. for the cumin and red wine vinegar but showing pics of adding a TBS. I guess it works ok though as nobody else mentioned it.Happy cook'in!

    1. Thanks Lorraina, I fixed the typo.

  14. Great recipes! White onions are the best onions for salsa, as the flavor doesn't intensify over time.

  15. your recipe is right on! I like to roast my jalapenos directly on my gas burners to bring out the flavor!

  16. Next time you make it try Pickled Jalepenos from a jar...or add some dill to the mix. Ours tastes pretty authentic...i think it is the dill/pickled flavor you may be missing.

  17. I made the Chuy's dip last week, and we loved it! I just used 2% milk, and I was very happy with the flavor. It tasted even better the next day, so in the future we'll make it a day ahead. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  18. Your pictures shows you using 1 tablespoon of the red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the cumin BUT the recipe under the pictures shows 1 teaspoon. Which is it please???

    1. Hi Rena, It's Tablespoons. I fixed the recipe above. Thanks for your comment. :-)

  19. I made the copy cat Chuy's jalapeño ranch dip and it's perfect! The Chuy's by me is always incredible now we can at least have the dip even when we can't eat there! Thank you so much!!

  20. I love Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno! Seriously!!! I could drink it through a straw I love it so much. I no longer live in TX and have recently found out they have one in Atlanta, GA! I know!!! Tex-Mex in Atlanta! Its a 5 hour drive for me but my sister lives there so next time I visit her, we are totally going to CHUYS!

    I am definitely going to try both these recipes but am wondering, do you think they use can ingredients or fresh? Last week I made a copy cat recipe of Cafe Rio's Tomatillo Dressing from a blog called "Chef In Training" (see link to dressing below for the recipe). There were some VERY similar flavors going on in this dressing & chuys creamy jalapeno. She used an entire bunch of cilantro, 1 cup mayo and 1 cup buttermilk, 1 packet ranch, fresh tomatillos and lime juice! Hers called for garlic powder but I used fresh garlic. Her ratio of buttermilk, mayo and ranch mix, might help the thickness of your recipe. Here is the blog/recipe:

    Also, during my last few visits to Chuys, I was inquiring about the ingredients of the creamy jalapeno. I was told there was onion, cilantro and lots of GARLIC! But they keep that recipe under lock and key. :)

    I will let you know after I make your version if its good enough to drink through a straw...not that I actually would. LOL I just started a blog 100 days of Pinterest. If you would like to follow,

  21. Does anybody know how to make their guacamole?

  22. I'm so sorry...but I made the jalapeno dip just like you said and I did not like it. I tried to doctor it up but it didn't make it taste any better.

  23. I would try roasting the garlic, jalapeño and onion on the grill adds a nice flavor and adds a little sweetness to it! Sounds yummy!


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