Cilantro Lime Ranch Dressing – This bright, fresh Tex-Mex ranch is perfect over tacos, burrito bowls, salads, or veggies. It makes a DELICIOUS dip or dressing! (Vegan & Paleo friendly!)
I don’t know about you, but I’m always about 100 times more likely to eat my veggies if I have something yummy to pair them with. Sometimes, that’s an awesome seasoning blend. Other times, it’s simply roasting them to bring out their flavors. But one of my favorites is to add a great dip or dressing. I end up planning my meals around ways to include more of them when I have something yummy to drizzle over or dip them in.
This Cilantro Lime Ranch is one of those delicious dressings that nails the perfect balance of creamy, bright, and fresh. It’s at home as a dip or dressing for fresh veggies, or makes a fantastic topping for tacos, burrito bowls, nachos, and sooo much more.
Plus, it’s REALLY easy to make. You probably have at least half the ingredients on hand right now (I usually have all but one on hand at all times!).
What You Need to Make Cilantro Lime Ranch Dressing:
This Cilantro Lime Ranch is made from an easy mix of fresh and pantry ingredients that make it a cinch to pull together last minute.
- Bright, fresh cilantro is front and center here. It sounds like a lot, but it blends in beautifully and gives this cilantro lime ranch much of its color and flavor. If you’re nervous, you can always start with less.
- Lime zest + juice – It *is* cilantro LIME ranch after all, so this homemade ranch recipe gets a lime-y kick from fresh lime zest AND lime juice. It’s delightful!
- Jalapeño (if you want) – If I have it on hand, I love to toss in just a little bit of jalapeño. I only use a few slices of jalapeño since we don’t like things *too* spicy here. It’s mild enough for my picky little ones to eat it, but adds a nice smokiness and a tiny, subtle kick that’s delicious. Of course, if you like things spicy, feel free to add more!
Pantry & Staple Ingredients:
- Mayo or Veganaise – You can turn this into a paleo approved or vegan approved recipe, or anywhere in between, depending on what mayo or veganaise option you go with. I’ve got my two favorite options listed below!
- Garlic powder & onion powder – These are a staple for all my homemade ranch recipes. They’re more mild than adding raw onions and garlic, but still lend all that nice flavor.
- Dried dill – This turns it into true ranch for me. Just enough to brighten up the other flavors, not too much to overpower the whole dish. If you prefer to use fresh, use 3x the amount. (So instead of 1/2 tsp dried, you’d use 1/2 Tablespoon fresh)
- Salt & pepper – because they are life
Substitutions & Swaps
I love to play with recipes. The base recipe below is my go-to, but here are a few other ways you can mix things up with variations:
- Twist the flavor – You can also add about 1/4 tsp of chili powder or cumin if you like to give it more of a Tex-Mex flair. It’s delicious this way, and is probably my most used variation.
- Lighten it up! Want to lighten up your cilantro lime ranch? You can swap half the mayo for sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, or mashed avocado. (The avocado variation is delicious and the lime juice helps keep it from browning for a few days)
- Add more heat – If you like things spicy, the easiest way to add more kick is my adding more jalapeño. Each jalapeño varies in heat, so there’s really no way to know exactly how hot yours is until you taste it. If, after mixing, you find the heat lacking, add another few slices and blend them on in!
Frequently Asked Questions + Tips for Cilantro Lime Ranch:
My favorite way to blend salad dressings – I love using a hand-held immersion blender for salad dressings because the batches are smaller than smoothies. This is the one I have, and I LOVE it for blending dressings, vinaigrettes, sauces, and soups. That said, if you don’t have one, a traditional blender or food processor will also work! If you’re using a food processor, you may want to chop or mince your cilantro a bit before adding it so it blends easier.
How long will this Cilantro Lime Ranch keep in the fridge? Homemade ranch dressing usually keeps about a week in the fridge. If you’ve used the avocado variation, it’ll only keep about 3-4 days before oxidizing (the avocado will start to brown).
What’s the best way to store homemade ranch? You’ll want to store this cilantro lime ranch in an airtight container. Jars are GREAT for this. I usually go for a smaller glass jar (like these or these) with a reusable lid. I love these lids because they’re dishwasher safe, don’t rust, and even work for the freezer when paired with a freezer-safe jar. (Note: I never freeze ranch dressing–I mean for other things)
What’s Your Favorite Mayo or Veganaise? I use both, depending on what we have on hand or who might be joining us for dinner. If I’m doing veganaise, I prefer Just Mayo brand. It’s VERY neutral tasting and my family likes it better than mayo! We get it at Sprouts, Kroger, Natural Grocers, or even Amazon (it’s priced better in stores). If we’re going the mayo route, I usually opt for avocado oil mayo (which is often paleo or Whole30 approved). I can find it just about anywhere these days! Just check your label if you need to be strictly paleo or Whole30 compliant. This one is Whole30 complaint.
What to Pair Your Cilantro Lime Ranch With:
- The BEST Fish Tacos with Honey Lime Cilantro Slaw (Gluten Free)
- Plantain Burrito Bowls with Black Beans & Fresh Mango Salsa (Gluten Free & Vegan)
- Slow Cooker Beef Carnitas (Gluten Free & Paleo)
This bright, fresh ranch dressing gets plenty of flavor from fresh cilantro and plenty of lime. Add a bit of kick with some jalapeño, or see the notes for more ideas for playing with the flavor!
- 1 cup mayonnaise or veganaise*
- 1/2–3/4 cup loosely packed cilantro
- 3–4 slices jalapeño (or more, to taste)
- zest of 1 lime
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt (or less, if you prefer)
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried dill (or 1/2 Tbsp fresh)
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 3–4 Tbsp milk or water (I use unsweetened cashew milk or water)
- Place all ingredients in a blender, food processor, or a tall cup for an immersion blender.
- Puree until completely smooth.
- Taste and add additional salt, pepper, cilantro, jalapeño, or lime juice as desired.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
*Mayo & Veganaise: My favorite mayonnaise for this is avocado oil mayonnaise (which is often paleo or whole30 approved) and my favorite veganaise is Just Mayo brand.
Twist the flavor – You can also add about 1/4 tsp of chili powder or cumin if you like to give it more of a Tex-Mex flair. It’s delicious this way, and is probably my most used variation.
Lighten it up! You can swap half the mayo for sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, or mashed avocado. (The avocado variation is delicious and the lime juice helps keep it from browning for a few days. It won’t last quite as long, though.)
Add more heat – If you like things spicy, the easiest way to add more kick is my adding more jalapeño. Each jalapeño varies in heat, so there’s really no way to know exactly how hot yours is until you taste it. If, after mixing, you find the heat lacking, add another few slices and blend them on in!
- Category: Condiment, Salad Dressing
- Method: No-Cook
- Cuisine: American, Tex-Mex
Keywords: Cilantro Lime Ranch Dressing, cilantro lime ranch, vegan ranch, paleo ranch, dairy free ranch,
Recipe, photos & post updated Feb 2019. Originally posted Nov 2009.