Quick and easy to make in under 10 minutes, this Cilantro Lime Dressing is perfect for so many dinners. Think everything from tacos, to your favorite burrito bowls, and fajitas as well. It’s also perfect over dinner salads and as a marinade for chicken too. It’s naturally gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. You can make it creamy or spicy in a number of ways you’ll find listed out in the recipe notes below.
I first made this Cilantro Lime Dressing for my Fish Taco Bowls a few years back. But ever since then, we’ve been putting this zesty dressing on all sorts of Mexican-inspired bowls. It’s even delicious on Asian-inspired salads, (made without the cumin) as well with the cilantro and lime pairing so well with so many flavors.
So whether you drizzle it over you favorite ‘bowl’ meal, or toss it with shredded cabbage for a tasty slaw, you’ll definitely love this one. There’s just so much bright fresh flavor, that it really levels up so many different meals and salads.
It’s also a great way to add a layer of flavor if you’re dairy free. Rather than using sour cream, try drizzling this dressing over your next taco instead!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Cilantro – the freshest cilantro you can find, from the farmers market whenever possible. Once you taste farm fresh cilantro you won’t be able to believe the difference. That being said, I make this with cilantro from the store all the time, and it’s very tasty. I just mention it because the extra freshness is nice when it’s available.
- Limes – fresh lime juice is an absolute must here. It’s one of those cases where you don’t want to use bottled juice because you will really notice it in the end.
- Cumin – just a touch adds a lot of depth to this dressing. However, it does make it more ‘Mexican’ so I leave it out if I’m planning on using this dressing with Asian flavors.
- Garlic – again adds depth of flavor to this dressing, and there really isn’t a good substitute for it. Like each ingredient in this simple dressing, you want to make sure it’s fresh. Jarred garlic might be okay in a stir fry, but it will overpower this dressing. Try using a garlic press to speed things up if you don’t like mincing garlic.
- Avocado oil – or any other neutral-tasting oil you like to use in your dressings works here. I use avocado oil as a healthy fat, but also because it has a wonderful buttery flavor. Olive oil works as well.
How to make this recipe step by step
Step 1: Start by juicing the limes, chopping the cilantro, and mincing the garlic.
Tip: Use a garlic press to speed things up! I use mine pretty much every single day of the year, so it’s definitely a worthwhile gadget to have.
Step 2: Place everything but the oil into the blender and blend on low speeds to combine. Then with the motor running at low speeds, add the oil in a thin steady drizzle through the hole in the top of the lid.
Keep adding the oil until it’s completely combined and the dressing is emulsified.
Step 3: Transfer to a container to store in the fridge for up to one week.
Ways to serve this Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Over my Strawberry Spinach Salad – it pairs really well with the feta cheese, or as a dressing to my Easy Green Salad. We also love it over my Asian Mandarin Chicken Salad, just omit the cumin. You can also toss it together with shredded cabbage and diced bell peppers for a slaw. It’s also great as a dressing for my Fully Loaded Taco Salad in place of the salsa dressing.
- Drizzle it over my Carnitas, Barbacoa, or Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowls. It’s also great with quesadillas.
- Use it as a marinade for chicken, pork, or seafood. You’ll find instructions for marinating, along with oven and grill instructions with my Best Chicken Marinades.
- And finally as mentioned above, we use this dressing in my Fish Taco Bowls, but it would also be great over my Fish Taco Lettuce Wraps with Mango Salsa, just sub it in for the avocado crema.
You can substitute basil in this dressing, however, I recommend just making my Basil Vinaigrette instead of this recipe if you don’t like cilantro.
For a creamy dressing check out my tips below for how to add an egg to this dressing, or you can also add a tablespoon of good quality mayonnaise at a time until it’s as creamy as you’d like. Both sour cream and Greek yogurt can also be mixed in 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
Add 1/2 to 1 diced jalapeno to the blender, this is one of our favorite variations, so yummy!
- To store – place any leftovers into an airtight sealed container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. This dressing tastes best the day it’s made, but it’s still pretty good for a week. You can also use the leftovers to make a marinade as well.
Tips & Tricks
- This dressing is meant to be zippy, but if it’s too much of a lime kick, feel free to add a touch of maple syrup or honey to sweeten to your taste.
- If you really hate cilantro, rather than trying to sub anything in here, I would recommend making my Basil Vinaigrette.
- Fresh lime juice really is the best combo here, but you can also use white wine vinegar if you don’t have fresh limes.
- I like to make creamy dressings by adding a raw egg to the blender. This creates a very creamy, slightly thicker dressing that is so good. It’s also a great way to get that creamy effect if you’re dairy-free. However that does involve raw eggs, so that decision is up to you, and what’s best for you. You can get a similar effect by adding a couple of tablespoons of good quality mayo to your finished dressing as well, but it’s not quite as good.
I really hope you enjoy this Cilantro Lime Dressing! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Cilantro Lime Dressing
- 1/2 cup cilantro - chopped
- 1/4 cup lime juice - freshly squeezed
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- 1 tsp sea salt - or to your taste
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 cup avocado oil - olive oil, or any neutral oil you like
- Add the chopped cilantro, lime juice, garlic, sea salt (or omit and season to taste at the end) and cumin to a blender.
- Blend on low speeds to combine, then with the motor running, add the oil in a thin steady stream through the hole in the lid until completely emulsified.
- Transfer the dressing to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.