Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

This creamy cilantro lime dressing can be whipped up in less than 15 minutes and the flavors are perfect for salads, tacos, burritos, or just for dipping!

Jar of cilantro lime dressing with spoon.

Well, I guess it’s time I introduced you to my favorite salad dressing in the history of ever.

Creamy cilantro lime dressing.

It’s a thing. And it’s a GOOD thing.

If you’ve ever ordered a sweet pork salad at Cafe Rio (hold me) and gone with the creamy dressing (the only clear choice), you’ll understand how this version is channeling some serious Cafe Rio vibes.

It’s creamy. It’s ranchy. It’s cilantro-y. It’s perfect.

Plate of quinoa and pork with cilantro lime dressing drizzled over the top.

We eat this stuff over so many things: 

-Everyday ground beef tacos (try it, you’ll die)
-Burritos, salads or tacos made with this Instant Pot Smoky Chicken
BBQ chicken salad cilantro lime rice bowls
Mexican chopped salad (I regularly swap out the cilantro vinaigrette in that recipe for this creamy dressing)

Additionally, it’s my kids go-to choice for dipping vegetables. Meaning, we keep a jar of it in the fridge at all times.

And many nights when we pull out everything from the fridge for leftover dinner night which has the potential to be scary and invoke trauma, this creamy cilantro lime dressing is the glue that holds it all together and makes the leftover bits and pieces actually yummy.

This, and a lot of cheese.

In fact that meal you see up above is exactly what I’m talking about. Leftover shredded pork with a hacked version of this quinoa taco “meat” and some toppings. So good I wanted to cry.

Jar of cilantro lime dressing.

Last year when I was regularly feeding 100 construction workers monthly lunches, their favorite meal was a Cafe Rio-style lineup of cilantro lime rice, black beans, tomatillo pork, guac, sour cream, tomatoes, tortilla chips, etc.

But the element that always got the craziest amount of praise was this cilantro lime dressing.

I got really, really good at whipping up an enormous gallon-size batch of this to fill the large-and-in-charge squeeze bottles. And I was never sad if there was dressing left over.

Also, you can throw in an avocado for a super green, super creamy, avocado cilantro lime version (just thin out the dressing with a bit more buttermilk). AMAZING!

One Year Ago: Caramel Snickers Cheesecake Bars
Two Years Ago: Delicious No-Bake Cookie Dough Bites
Three Years Ago: Foil Packet Sweet Potato Tacos
Four Years Ago: Easy Brazilian Cheese Bread {Pao de Queijo}
Five Years Ago: Apple Cinnamon Waffles with Cinnamon Syrup

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use light mayo)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup salsa verde or green enchilada sauce (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from about 1 medium lime)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch of dried dill (about 1/8 teaspoon)
  • Pinch of salt (I use coarse, kosher salt)
  • Pinch of black pepper (I use coarsely ground black pepper)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts coarsely chopped, or small bunch of chives

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Thin with additional buttermilk, milk, or lime juice, if you want to adjust the consistency.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to serve (the taste gets better with time – it can be made several days in advance).

Notes:

The whole buttermilk + mayo + sour cream lineup is the profile I prefer for the best flavor, but you could try changing it up (use all sour cream, sub in Greek yogurt, more buttermilk, etc). Just keep in mind the flavor/consistency might change a bit. 

Salsa verde (green salsa) can vary in spiciness, so make sure you use a brand that you already know you enjoy the taste and heat level of. I like Herdez or Trader Joe’s (both have a slight kick). This homemade green enchilada sauce also works great in this recipe. 

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Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (adapted over the years from this recipe at Our Best Bites)