Use this light, tangy, 5-minute Cilantro Lime Dressing to dress up your favorite taco or Southwest-style salad, or use it as a marinade for chicken or shrimp.

This dressing was made for black bean taco salads; turns out it’s so irresistible it deserves its own time in the sun!

Jar full of cilantro lime dressing.

Cilantro, lime, and jalapeño were fated to be together. I consider them a bit like a holy trinity of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Each is amazing, but together? True love.

Combine these fresh, zesty flavors into a salad dressing, and you have a show-stopper. While delicious any time of year, this is especially perfect for summer dining and entertaining. With zippy cilantro, tangy citrus, and a smidge of peppery heat all blended into a smooth dressing, this will be all the motivation you need to fist forkfuls of salad greens.

Why You’ll Love It

  • One step.
  • 5 minutes.
  • Fresh and vibrant flavor. This tastes like summer, pure and simple.
  • Keeps well. A smidge of fresh lime juice and a good shake and your day-old dressing still has great taste.

How To Use It

This dressing is a match made in heaven for our vegetarian taco salad, an everyday Mexican green salad, or any Southwest-inspired salad you enjoy. It’s also a great condiment to serve with tacos, like these filled with simple black beans or green chili adobo shrimp.

You can also repurpose any extra dressing as a quick marinade for chicken, fish, or shrimp. Just pour over your protein and let rest, chilled, for 2-6 hours, then cook as desired.

Ingredients & Substitutions

You’ll need a few fresh items, and some pantry staples.

  • Fresh cilantro, limes, and jalapeño. Even if you don’t normally care for much heat, I encourage you to try making cilantro lime dressing with a bit of pepper. It does not make the dressing “spicy,” it just adds a little zing.
  • One clove of garlic. Sub 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder if needed.
  • Olive oil or avocado oil.
  • Cumin and kosher salt. Use flaky sea salt if you prefer. Either of those is preferable to table salt, but if table salt is all that you have, use a bit less – 1/2 teaspoon instead of the recommended 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt.
Ingredients for dressing combined in the bowl of a Vitamix.

How To Make Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing

There’s just one step! Simply add all of the ingredients — cilantro, olive or avocado oil, lime juice, jalapeño, garlic, cumin, and salt — to a blender or food processor. Blitz until smooth and your salad dressing is ready to use!

Cilantro lime salad dressing blended together in the bowl of a Vitamix.

If you prefer a thinner dressing, or intend to use this as a marinade and want to stretch it a bit, you can add up to 1/2 cup of water, and blend again to incorporate smoothly.

Can I Make This Creamy?

Yes! To make creamy cilantro lime dressing, add 1/2 of a ripe avocado or 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt to the mixture.

Best Way To Store Homemade Salad Dressing?

Extra dressing will keep well tightly covered in the fridge for up to 1 week. I find these simple jars to be perfect for salad dressings; just be very sure to screw the lid completely closed!

Add a quick squeeze of fresh lime juice and give the dressing a good shake right before using again.

More Homemade Salad Dressings

Once you get hooked on making your own dressings, it’s hard to go back to store-bought! Add this Italian dressing, balsamic vinaigrette, lime Caesar, and creamy honey poppy seed dressing to your arsenal, and you’ll have the perfect match for any salad.

If you try this Cilantro Lime Dressing, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.

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5 from 1 vote

Cilantro Lime Dressing

Perfect for dressing up a taco salad, a green salad with Tex-Mex flare, or being used as a marinade for chicken or shrimp.


  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive or avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 or 2 small ribs of jalapeño pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced or grated
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water to thin out as desired


  • Add all ingredients except water to a blender or food processor. Blend on high speed until the oil and lime juice are emulsified into a smooth mixture. The cilantro, garlic, and jalapeño should be very finely diced.
  • Taste dressing. You can use as it is, or if you prefer a thinner consistency, add a bit of water and blend again. (I usually use it without water as a salad dressing, and with water as a marinade.)
  • Enjoy! Dressing will keep well tightly covered in the fridge for up to 1 week. Give it a good shake and add a quick squeeze of fresh lime juice right before using again.


  • To make creamy cilantro lime dressing, add 1/2 of a ripe avocado or 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt to the mixture.
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review below, then snap a quick picture and tag @nourishandfete on Instagram so I can see it!