Cilantro Lime Dressing is easy, delicious, and versatile! Great on bowls, burgers, fish, veggies, pasta, tacos, and so much more! (Trader Joe's copycat recipe)
What's the Story Behind this Recipe?
Years ago, my friend Val introduced me to a delicious Cilantro-Lime Dressing from Trader Joe's. It was bright, light, and vibrantly tangy, and low in calories. Mr B and I loved this dressing so much that I made 30-minute trip to our local Trader Joe's just to buy a bottle, which turned out to be $3.50 (at the time) - for 12 ounces!
I took the bottle home, enjoyed every drop, and decided then and there to figure out how to make something like it that didn't require fighting traffic or paying so much for so little. After a little experimenting, I came up with this refreshing alternative, which we like much better than the bottled version.
What Goes into this Recipe
This recipe has a simple list of fresh ingredients.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
★ Greek yogurt: We use full-fat plain Greek yogurt when we make this dressing. You can also use 2% Greek yogurt with good results.
We do not suggest using non-fat yogurt: it makes the dressing too runny for our tastes.
★ Diced green chilis: You can roast a couple of mild chilis yourself, or use a small can of diced green chilis. In this case, either one is a good choice.
When I use canned chilis, I try to buy the whole ones in a big can and distribute them into freezer bags to be used as needed. This ends up being much less expensive than buying the little cans.
★ Lime zest: Make it a habit to zest every piece of citrus that goes through your kitchen before juicing it. When sealed in a small, air-tight bag, citrus zest freezes very well, and will keep for up to three months in the freezer.
★ Oil: We use a light-tasting olive oil or Canola oil. Use any light, neutral oil.
How to Make this Recipe
This dressing is embarrassingly easy to make: simply layer all the ingredients in a blender cup and blend until smooth.
We love this stuff on so many things! Here are just a few ideas:
- Burrito Bowls
- Fish Tacos
- Chicken Strips
- Buddha Bowls
- Pasta Salad
- Fried fish
- Chicken salad
- Baked potatoes
- Steak & burgers
- Eggplant fingers
- Raw veggies (i.e., crudité, for the fancy folks.)
- Cuban salad
One of our favorite ways to use cilantro dressing is to make one of our summer go-to dinners - an easy, garden-fresh summer pasta salad. It takes just minutes to pull together, and you can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.
FAQs & Expert Tips
Properly stored in an air-tight container, this cilantro dressing lasts about a week in the refrigerator.
The most significant difference between our recipe and Trader Joe's dressing is the base: our recipe starts with Greek yogurt, while Trader Joe's has a mayonnaise base. From there out, the two taste pretty close (aside from the obvious fresh vs. bottle flavor, of course). Our recipe results in a slightly creamier dressing, with just the right amount of lime to brighten whatever you use it on.
The one change we consciously made was to leave out the the cotija cheese. We like to add cheese as needed, and adding it directly to the dressing didn't seem to do a lot to improve either the overall texture or flavor.
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Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing
- 1 Blender or immersion blender
- 1½ ounces cilantro 1 cup, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 4 ounces roasted mild green chilies one small can
- 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest & Juice of 1 Lime
- Layer all the ingredients in a blender cup and blend until smooth.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
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Originally published June 17, 2013. Post has been updated with new content, images, and recipe instructions to improve reader experience.
Matt Van Wyen says
Great to meet you tonight! Can't wait to make this!
Renée ♥ says
You and Christina were so much fun to talk with, Matt! Good luck in your search for a blender! (You really do need one, you know!)