Cilantro Lime Dressing
This Cilantro Lime Dressing has unbelievable flavor and only requires a handful of ingredients. It’s a fresh, creamy and balanced dressing that elevates any salad, but especially Mexican-theme salads like this Steak Salad.
If you’re not a fan of the typical salad bars at the grocery store, I totally get you.
Staring at steel buckets full of standard cut up vegetables and bottled salad dressings doesn’t make me excited about eating salad.
When I eat a salad, I want thoughtfully selected ingredients that truly go together, plus a flavorful dressing that’s more than just olive oil and a little vinegar. Well, this creamy cilantro lime dressing is beyond spectacular!
Why This Recipe Is The Best
Bursting with flavor – The flavor of this dressing is off the charts, which is no surprise given the ingredients that are in it. The proportions of ingredients are spot on so the flavor is rich but well-balanced.
Creamy and thick – This really coats greens well, adhering nicely to all of the ingredients. It’s able to be drizzled, but also thick and creamy.
5 minutes to make – This dressing tastes unlike anything you’d find at the store, and it really only takes a few minutes. You can definitely meal prep it and make a big batch once a week.
Can make it in the blender – Just like Basil Vinaigrette, Romesco, and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, simply toss the ingredients into the blender to make this really fast. You can also use a food processor, or mix this by hand.
This recipe is similar to my Cilantro Jalapeno Sauce in flavor, but more of a zingy and tangy take that makes it more akin to a salad dressing or vinaigrette.
It’s well-suited to many different types of salad, but especially Mexican-themed ingredients, like this Steak Salad with queso fresco, avocado, tomatoes, and more. I’ve also used this for chicken-centered salads, and sometimes drizzle it on pork too.
Tips for the Best Results
Dry the cilantro thoroughly – I recommend washing the cilantro ahead of time, and making sure it has time to dry thoroughly. Leftover water on the leaves will significantly thin out the dressing and make it watery.
Use the freshest ingredients possible – Part of why homemade salad dressings are SO much better than the storebought stuff is because you’re using FRESH ingredients. Herbs lose their flavor as they age, so try to use the freshest ingredients possible.
Use full fat yogurt – A good dressing needs fat, because it allows the flavors of the cilantro, jalapeno etc to “bloom” more on the palate. Try a full fat yogurt here, or if you’re using mayonnaise, make sure it’s not fat-free.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
There are only six cilantro lime dressing ingredients you’ll need, plus salt and pepper:
- Olive oil
It might seem like a simple ingredient list, but the flavor is outstanding.
I recommend you try this recipe “as is” first, because in my recipe testing, this was the best combination of ingredients. But here are a few substitution options if you have limited choices:
Herbs: Cilantro is the best, but basil is also an interesting herb to substitute here. It goes really well with salads that have corn.
Oil: Instead of olive oil, you can substitute avocado oil.
Greek Yogurt: You can substitute an equal amount of avocado, or mayonnaise. If using avocado, it will not keep well for more than a day.
Let’s make it!
How to Make It Step-by-Step:
Place all the prepped ingredients except the olive oil into a blender, and add salt and pepper as well:
Blend the ingredients up until smooth:
Then add the olive oil and mix briefly, just until the oil is incorporated:
Why wait to add the olive oil?
Blended olive oil tends to become bitter in flavor. so it’s best to blend all the other ingredients first, then mix in the oil at the very end.
The dressing will have a creamy quality to it, but still be thin enough to pour like a dressing:
FAQ and Tips
You may store the dressing for about 5 days in the refrigerator before the flavor starts to deteriorate. I would not keep it longer than 10 days.
Technically yes, for up to 2 months, but I don’t recommend it because the ingredients get discolored, and a lot of the appeal of this dressing is the fresh and vibrant flavors. That will deteriorate in the freezer.
More Easy Sauces Made In the Blender:
Cilantro Lime Dressing
- 1 bunch cilantro*
- 1 jalapeno
- 3 large cloves garlic minced (2 tbsp minced)
- 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt**
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 6 tbsp (3 ounces) extra virgin olive oil
- If the ends of the cilantro stems look brown or old, trim them off, keeping as much of the stem as possible. The stems blend well and have great flavor.
- Cut the stem off the jalapeno, and remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno if you desire. Keeping those in will make the dressing more spicy, and they will blend up just fine.
- Place the cilantro, jalapeno, minced garlic, lime juice, yogurt, salt, and pepper into a blender, and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Add the olive oil, and blend for a few seconds, until just incorporated.
- Taste and make any necessary seasoning adjustments. Then enjoy!
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Post updated in July 2021. Originally published May 2018.