This creamy cilantro lime dressing recipe takes only a few minutes to prepare, and it tastes amazing! Lime juice adds brightness and acidity, while cilantro adds an earthy flavor. Avocado helps to create a rich creaminess, and honey adds just the right level of sweetness. This recipe has a sweetness similar to honey mustard dressing, making it a perfect choice to use with bitter salad greens like arugula!
By now, you know how important flavor balance is to me when creating recipes. In my opinion, this cilantro lime dressing has a perfect balance of flavors, making it an excellent accompaniment to many salads and vegetables. You have sweetness (honey), sour/acidity (limes), saltiness (kosher salt), and bitterness (olive oil).
Because I’ve added avocado, it’s also thick enough to use as a sauce. I added a drizzle over my rotisserie chicken tacos last night, and it was so good. I’ve also been dipping raw veggies in it as a snack.
How to Make Cilantro Lime Dressing
More often than not, cilantro stems are discarded for recipes; only the leaves are used. What’s great about this recipe is that everything is pureed, so there’s no reason to discard the stems. Stems from fresh herbs have tons of flavor!
If you’re serving this dressing with a salad alongside something like a Tex Mex recipe that uses cilantro, you can use mostly stems for this recipe and save the leaves for your main course!
This salad dressing couldn’t be easier. Simply add the ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. Taste, adjust the seasonings if necessary, then serve.
Since you want the dressing to be very smooth, make sure not to rush the blending process. Blend on the lowest setting for around 15-30 seconds to chop up and incorporate the cilantro, avocado, garlic, and jalapeño pepper (if using) with the liquids. Then slowly turn up the speed to the highest setting while maintaining the funnel of ingredients.
If you turn the blender to high speed without maintaining that funnel, little bits of the ingredients will splatter against the top and sides of the blender instead of incorporating into the dressing.
No matter how many times I say to do this, I still sometimes rush. If this happens, use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the blender and continue pureeing until smooth. I usually do this regardless, just to be sure everything is blended.
Taste the avocado before adding it. Older avocados can develop an unpleasant, bitter flavor. Ideally, you want to use a fresh tasting avocado!
Some recipes use plain or greek yogurt in place of avocado for creaminess. I tried this and wasn’t a fan of the results. Yogurt has a tangy flavor, so that combined with limes creates a more acidic dressing and throws off the flavor balance.
This recipe has a sweetness similar to honey mustard dressing. I love it, but based on Jeff’s taste test reaction, it might be a bit too sweet for some. If you want to cut back on the sweetness, decrease the honey to 1 or 1 1/2 tablespoons at first. Taste the results and add more only if you think the dressing needs it.
If you’re watching fat and/or calories, you can increase the amount of water and equally decrease the amount of oil. I recommend using at least half of the oil for texture purposes.
I used a mix of extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil in this dressing. My current favorite olive oil (California Olive Ranch) left too much of a bitter aftertaste when used alone. Cutting that with a more neutral oil fixed the issue. But you might not run into the same problem. Avocado oil is pricy, so I don’t recommend running to the store to purchase it just for this recipe.
Don’t use bottled lime juice for this dressing! It has an unpleasant aftertaste. If you find juicing lemons and limes to be annoying, I recommend buying a citrus juicer. It’s super fast, and you waste less juice.
This dressing will work with so many salads! Here are a few examples
- Try with a taco salad (like this one from Taste of Home)
- Toss with baby arugula and toasted slivered almonds
- Use as a dipping sauce for baby carrots, red peppers, or broccoli
- Drizzle over steamed asparagus
What’s The Difference Between Dressing and Vinaigrette?
A vinaigrette is a type of dressing. “Dressing” is a more generic term that can also be used to describe sauces (for example, a sauce that accompanies a side dish). The terms are often used interchangeably. I see this recipe as a dressing because there’s no vinegar in the ingredients.
How to Store
Cilantro lime dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. After that, the avocado will begin to oxidize.
More Easy Salad Dressing Recipes
Cilantro Lime Dressing
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and stems, tightly packed
- 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice, or more to taste (about 3 limes)
- 2 tablespoons honey or light agave nectar
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (preferably a fruity oil, not a peppery oil)
- 3-4 tablespoons avocado oil (you can use all olive oil; see notes)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup ripe but firm avocado (3/4 - 1 avocado; see notes)
- 1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
- Optional: 1-2 tablespoons jalapeño, seeded and diced (around 1 pepper)
- Place the cilantro, lime juice, honey, garlic, olive oil, avocado oil, water, avocado, salt, pepper, and jalapeno (if using) in a blender.
- Blend on low speed for a few seconds to break up the ingredients, then slowly increase the speed to high (you want to go slowly to maintain the funnel created by the blender, otherwise some pieces might splatter upward and not blend).
- Puree on high speed for 30-60 seconds, or until the dressing looks very smooth. Scrape down the sides of the blender incase any ingredients are stuck to the side, then puree for an additional 10-30 seconds.
- Taste the dressing and adjust the seasonings if desired. You can add more lime, oil, salt, pepper, honey, jalapeño, etc. Just go slowly, because it’s easier to add than subtract!
- Use dressing immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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