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Cilantro Lime Dressing (Whole30, Vegan)

$3.16 Recipe/$0.53 Serving

Cilantro lime dressing is the perfect compliment to your taco salads! Tangy, zippy and packed with bold flavors, this dressing will quickly become one of your go-to favorites! Ready in just 2 minutes thanks to your blender/food processor!

Bottle of cilantro lime vinagrette on wooden cutting board.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Versatile – this cilantro lime dressing can be uses as a vinaigrette for salads, as a marinade or as sauce for things like rice, quinoa or poured over roasted veggies. You can also add avocado, Greek yogurt or soaked cashews to make this a creamy dressing or thick sauce for dipping.
  • Easy to make, great for beginners – everything gets measured and added to a blender or food processor, making it simple and easy to make!
  • Great ingredients – this dressing is packed with healthy ingredients that will create an irresistible dressing with no added sugar or unnecessary ingredients. Naturally gluten free, dairy free, vegan, Whole30 and low carb friendly!
  • Great use for the cilantro dying in your fridge! Ever buy too many bunches of cilantro and let them shrivel up and die in your fridge? Not anymore! This dressing is the perfect use for that cilantro!
Ingredients to make whole30 cilantro lime dressing
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Ingredients

  • Cilantro – bright and floral cilantro brings a level of freshness and unique flavor to this salad dressing. If you love cilantro, you will love this dressing!
  • Lime juice – lime juice is the acid in this recipe and there is a lot of it. This Whole30 cilantro lime dressing is zesty and has a zing thanks to the lime juice.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – olive oil is a very common ingredient in dressing. It helps to cut through the acid from the limes and helps the flavor of the dressing coat your tongue more. If you find the dressing to be too tart, add another 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or 1-2 tablespoons of honey, maple syrup or 1-2 pitted dates (Whole30) to help create the flavor you love.
  • Spices: Salt, ground cumin, garlic powder, red pepper flakes – the salt helps to elevate all the flavors. Cumin adds a layer of earthiness and smokiness to the dressing. Garlic powder adds umami and unlike fresh garlic does not overpower the dressing. The red pepper flakes add heat and an additional layer of flavor to the dressing.
  • Water – water helps to thin out the dressing.
  • Pumpkin seeds (optional)– these are an unusual ingredient but they help give the dressing body and help to thicken it slightly. I got this idea from making pesto with cashews and almonds and loving how they naturally thickened the sauce.  The pumpkin seeds are optional. If you choose not to add them, you may need an additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

How to make cilantro lime dressing

  • Cut the bottom away from the cilantro (these are the thickest part of the stems and can be discarded). The thinner stems closer to the leaves are edible and I highly recommend you add them to this dressing as they are incredibly flavorful. No need to peel the leaves from the stems.
  • Measure the ingredients and add them all to a high speed blender or food processor. Blend for 30-40 seconds or until the dressing is well combined and all the pumpkin seeds are broken down completely (the dressing should not be gritty).
  • Serve immediately or put in the fridge to cool down before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge, you can also freeze leftovers!
Blender with cilantro lime dressing ingredients before and after blending.
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Top tips

  • Use a high speed blender: although you can use a food processor or high speed blender, I find that the blender helps to really emulsify the dressing and helps to break down the cilantro and pumpkin seeds the best.
  • Tips for when you have to use a food processor: Combine everything except the water in the food processor first, this helps to break down the cilantro and pumpkin seeds the best because of the friction without the added water. When you go to add water, add about ¼ cup at once then add the other 4 tablespoons one at a time, giving the food processor a chance to run for a few seconds between each.
  • If the dressing is too tart or sour: Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or honey/maple syrup/soaked dates to help balance out the flavor.
  • Make it creamy! Adding avocado, Greek yogurt or soaked raw cashews to make this cilantro lime dressing creamy to use as a dressing or as a dip.
  • Shake well before serving: This cilantro lime dressing does tend to separate when refrigerated so be sure to shake well before serving.
  • Use it as a marinade! You can also use this dressing as a marinade. Because the lime juice will start to toughen or “cook” the protein don’t let the protein sit too long in the marinade. Marinate chicken for 1-2 hours and substantial fish like salmon for 30 minutes – 1 hour and lighter fish like cod or tilapia for 15-30 minutes.
Bottle of whole30 cilantro lime dressing poured over a salad.

How to use vegan cilantro lime dressing

  • On salads, especially great on Mexican or Southwest style salads
  • On grain bowls or buddha bowls
  • As a dressing for slaw. This would be delicious on a purple slaw with shredded carrots or traditional coleslaw mix.
  • As a dip for vegan taquitos (especially if you go the creamy route)
  • Drizzled on tacos or burritos (or burrito bowls)
  • Stirred into rice or quinoa
  • Pour over cooked chicken, salmon, shrimp, tofu
  • As a dip or sauce for roasted veggies
  • Pour over oven roasted potatoes or air fryer sweet potatoes
  • Make a Mexican inspired pasta salad with chopped red onion, bell peppers, avocado and black beans and this dressing

Common questions

Other flavor variations

You can mix and match these flavor variations as needed. For example you can add smoky flavor and creaminess by adding in the chipotle peppers and avocado!

  • Spicy: Add ¼-1/2 jalapeno (up to 1 whole jalapeno depending on your heat tolerance) or 5-10 pickled jalapenos for added heat.
  • Smoky: add 1-2 chipotle in adobo to make a spicy, smoky sauce
  • Sweeter: add 1-2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup or 1-2 pitted dates soaked in hot water for a Whole30 sweeter version.
  • Creamy: add 1 small or ½ large avocado, ½ cup Greek yogurt (vegan or dairy depending on preference) or ½ cup soaked raw cashews (soak in hot water or on the counter, check out all my tips on how to soak cashews).
Cilantro lime dressing in a glass bottle with squeezed limes in bowl.

How to measure cilantro

I cut the thicker stems off and discard them immediately. I then cut the cilantro down into 3-4 sections about the size of my measuring cup. This way I can fit them in easily without stuffing them in. You want to pack the cilantro into the measuring cup without forcing or overly stuffing it (if that makes sense).

For me a cup of cilantro measured this way is about 1 bundle of cilantro. If you aren’t sure just use one bundle as the recipe is very forgiving.

Storing leftovers

  • Fridge: Store leftover Whole30 cilantro lime dressing in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
  • Freezer: Store leftover dressing in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Tip: Freeze the dressing in 1 or 2 tablespoon portions using a silicone ice cube mold. This way you can defrosting a serving at a time.
    • Defrosting tip: Defrost the cilantro lime dressing on the counter in a bowl or jar with a lid. Once defrosted, shake vigorously (with the lid on) or whisk well to ensure the olive oil is well combined in the rest of the dressing ingredients as it has a tendency to separate when frozen.

Substitutions

  • Cilantro: If you hate cilantro you can try a combination of Italian parsley, mint and basil for bright, herby dressing. It won’t taste exactly the same but should still be incredibly flavorful and delicious.
  • Lime juice: You can use lemon juice or red wine vinegar in place of the lime juice if you don’t have it.
  • Olive oil: You can use avocado oil in place of olive oil as avocado oil is very neutral tasting.
  • Ground cumin: You can substitute an equal amount of smoked paprika to add that smoky taste if you don’t have cumin.
  • Garlic powder: I prefer garlic powder because it doesn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients but if you love the taste of fresh garlic in dressing, you can use 1-2 cloves fresh garlic in place of the garlic powder. You can also use 1 tablespoon of dried chives in place of garlic powder if you cannot tolerate garlic.
  • Pumpkin seeds (optional): The pumpkin seeds are optional but I love how they add body to this dressing. You could also use cashews, sliced almonds, pistachios or hemp hearts in place of the pumpkin seeds.

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Bottle of cilantro lime dressing with limes and cilantro around bottle.

Cilantro Lime Dressing

$3.16 Recipe/$0.53 Serving
Whole30 cilantro lime dressing is perfect for salads or can be used as a marinade. So simple, ready in just 2 minutes with easy to find ingredients! Vegan, gluten free, dairy free, keto and low carb friendly.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: Salad Dressing
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cilantro lime vinagrette, creamy cilantro lime dressing, vegan cilantro lime dressing, whole30 cilantro lime dressing
Prep Time: 2 mins
Total Time: 2 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cilantro, loosely packed - $0.99
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil - $0.66
  • 3 medium limes, juiced - $0.99
  • 1 teaspoon salt - $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder - $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin - $0.05
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - $0.03
  • 1/2 cup water - $0.00
  • 3 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (optional) - $0.36

Instructions

  • Cut away the ends of the cilantro stalks. Measure the cilantro by loosely packing it in a measuring cup, using leaves and stems.
  • Add all ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor.
  • Blend on high about 40 seconds – 1 minute until pumpkin seeds are finely broken down.
  • Serve immediately or store in the fridge up to a week. Be sure to shake well before serving.

Notes

Top tips
  • Use a high speed blender: although you can use a food processor or high speed blender, I find that the blender helps to really emulsify the dressing and helps to break down the cilantro and pumpkin seeds the best.
  • Tips for when you have to use a food processor: Combine everything except the water in the food processor first, this helps to break down the cilantro and pumpkin seeds the best because of the friction without the added water. When you go to add water, add about ¼ cup at once then add the other 4 tablespoons one at a time, giving the food processor a chance to run for a few seconds between each.
  • If the dressing is too tart or sour: Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or honey/maple syrup/soaked dates to help balance out the flavor.
  • Make it creamy! Adding avocado, Greek yogurt or soaked raw cashews to make this cilantro lime dressing creamy to use as a dressing or as a dip.
  • Shake well before serving: This cilantro lime dressing does tend to separate when refrigerated so be sure to shake well before serving.
  • Use it as a marinade! You can also use this dressing as a marinade. Because the lime juice will start to toughen or “cook” the protein don’t let the protein sit too long in the marinade. Marinate chicken for 1-2 hours and substantial fish like salmon for 30 minutes – 1 hour and lighter fish like cod or tilapia for 15-30 minutes.
Other flavor variations
  • Spicy: Add ¼-1/2 jalapeno (up to 1 whole jalapeno depending on your heat tolerance) or 5-10 pickled jalapenos for added heat.
  • Smoky: add 1-2 chipotle in adobo to make a spicy, smoky sauce
  • Sweeter: add 1-2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup or 1-2 pitted dates soaked in hot water for a Whole30 sweeter version.
  • Creamy: add 1 small or ½ large avocado, ½ cup Greek yogurt (vegan or dairy depending on preference) or ½ cup soaked raw cashews (soak in hot water or on the counter, see this post for instruction on how to soak cashews).
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge: Store leftover Whole30 cilantro lime dressing in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
  • Freezer: Store leftover dressing in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Tip: Freeze the dressing in 1 or 2 tablespoon portions using a silicone ice cube mold. This way you can defrosting a serving at a time.
    • Defrosting tip: Defrost the cilantro lime dressing on the counter in a bowl or jar with a lid. Once defrosted, shake vigorously (with the lid on) or whisk well to ensure the olive oil is well combined in the rest of the dressing ingredients as it has a tendency to separate when frozen.
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Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
102
Fat
 
10
g
Carbohydrates
 
4
g
Fiber
 
1
g
Sugar
 
1
g
Protein
 
2
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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