This Cilantro Lime Sauce is the perfect copycat version of Cafe Rio’s cilantro lime dressing. Made with buttermilk, ranch seasoning, tomatillo, cilantro and lime, this cilantro lime dressing is the perfect addition to your favorite foods! 

Our favorite ways to use this cilantro lime sauce is to drizzle it on Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Burritos, sweet pork salads, Carnitas, Mexican Lasagna with Tortillas and more! Basically you can drizzle it on top of anything! Straws work too — just drink it right from the bottle! 

Cafe Rio Cilantro Lime Dressing in a glass jar with a spoon holding some of the creamy dressing.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Tastes just like Cafe Rio. This easy cilantro lime sauce recipe is a perfect copycat recipe. It tastes just like the delicious sauce from Cafe Rio — but better and made in bulk! Making homemade salad dressings at home is super easy. Not only is it waaaay cheaper, but you can adjust the heat level to what you’re comfortable with.
  • Great lime flavor. The balance of cilantro and lime flavor in this creamy cilantro lime dressing recipe is perfect.
  • Best cilantro lime dressing. You can serve this cafe rio cilantro lime dressing on top of all the things — burritos, tacos, salads, quesadillas, tostadas, nachos, and more! And the best part of making this flavorful sauce is all you have to do is add a handful of ingredients into a blender and blend! 

Ingredient Notes

Cilantro Lime dressing ingredients on a white background; ingredients include a tomatillo, jalapeño, buttermilk, cilantro, mayo, ranch seasoning and a lime.
  • Dry Ranch Seasoning: Since this easy cilantro lime dressing is a ranch dressing, we’ll use the dry ranch seasoning mix to add that ranch flavor. 
  • Buttermilk: The Cafe Rio cilantro lime dressing is a ranch based dressing. Ranch uses buttermilk as its base. So we really need buttermilk for this, not a buttermilk substitute. This will add a nice tangy flavor to the easy dressing.  
  • Mayo: Use mayo! Not Miracle Whip. The mayo will help make this a creamy cilantro sauce that we wouldn’t get without it. 
  • Tomatillo: Husk the tomatillo and then cut it into chunks. You’ll be adding the tomatillo into the blender raw, as is.
  • Jalapeño: This is where you get the heat. If you want a very mild dressing, do not add the jalapeño seeds. If you want a nice kick to the cilantro lime dressing, add the seeds. We like it both ways.
  • Cilantro: I slightly pack in the cilantro leaves. We want lots of that fresh cilantro flavor in this delicious cilantro lime sauce. 
  • Lime Juice: Feel free to use store-bought lime juice or if you can use fresh lime juice, that will just have more of a fresh flavor! Use fresh lemon juice if you prefer it over lime. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients in a blender. Add 2/3 cup buttermilk, 1/3 cup milk, 1 cup mayo, 3 tablespoons dry ranch seasoning, 1 tomatillo (husked and cubed), 1/2 jalapeño, 1/2 cup cilantro, and the juice from 1/2 a lime. 
  2. Blend. Blend the ingredients until smooth. Transfer the creamy sauce to a jar, dressing bottle or airtight container and store in the fridge. Serve over salads, on top of quesadillas, burritos, fish tacos, burrito bowls, or as a dipping sauce. Enjoy! 

Recipe Tips

As the Cafe Rio cilantro dressing chills it will thicken slightly.

If you prefer a mild Cafe Rio tomatillo dressing, then you can forgo adding the jalapeño seeds. If your taste buds can handle a hint of heat, add the seeds. 

If you don’t want to use mayo, try sour cream or Plain Greek Yogurt for a cilantro lime yogurt sauce — just note that the flavor will change slightly. 

Add 1/2 tsp minced garlic for added fresh garlic flavor. You can also add a touch of honey if you want some sweetness. 

Use any type of milk for the milk. It just helps make the dressing a little thinner to loosen up the texture of the delicious dressing without watering it down. 

If you don’t have a high-powered blender, you can use a food processor or immersion blender. You will need some sort of machine that will blend for it to be a creamy cilantro lime sauce. 

Drizzle this Cilantro Lime Sauce on …

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

Store any leftover cilantro lime sauce in an airtight container, jar or dressing bottle for 2 weeks in the fridge.

Do not freeze because the dressing is dairy-based so it will separate when thawed.

Recipe FAQs

Is cilantro lime sauce spicy?

If you add in the jalapeño, then it will have a slight bit of heat. However, don’t use the jalapeño seeds unless you want it to really be spicy. 

Is cilantro lime dressing gluten free? 


Can you freeze cilantro lime sauce?

No. The dressing is dairy based and dairy will separate when frozen and thawed. 

What to use cilantro lime sauce on?

There are endless ways to serve this cilantro-lime sauce! We love serving this delicious cilantro lime sauce on top of salads, on our favorite tacos, quesadillas, burritos, tostadas, nachos, and more! You can also use the cilantro lime crema as a dip for some fresh veggies. 

Cafe Rio Cilantro Lime Dressing in a jar against a light gray background.

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Cafe Rio Cilantro Lime Dressing in a jar with cilantro to the side.
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5 from 6 votes

Cilantro Lime Sauce

This is the best Cilantro Lime Dressing. So good you can drink it; in fact, we think it tastes better than Cafe Rio's!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Blend Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 6 minutes
Servings: 24 servings


  • 3 tablespoons dry ranch seasoning
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 tomatillo - husked and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 jalapeno - remove the seeds for a mild dressing. Add the seeds for spicier dressing
  • 1/2 cup cilantro - medium packed
  • 1/2 lime - juiced


  • Add all of the ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Place the dressing in the refrigerator to chill. The dressing will thicken slightly while in the fridge.
  • Serve over salad, with quesadillas, sweet pork burritos, or as a dipping sauce.


Calories: 76kcal (4%)Carbohydrates: 2g (1%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 7g (11%)Saturated Fat: 1g (5%)Cholesterol: 5mg (2%)Sodium: 209mg (9%)Potassium: 21mg (1%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 48IU (1%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 13mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
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