This super easy, Light and Spicy Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing is one of those insanely good delicious salad dressings that will make you want to skip the main course!
A few weeks ago our daughter, Cait, made dinner for us. She served a wonderful grilled steak and the BEST salad. When I asked her about the dressing (it was so… good), she said, “It’s your Spicy Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing recipe”. It was like a delicious revelation to me, as, I’m not sure how, but I’d totally forgotten about this bright, vibrant dressing.
I’ve made it several times since, tweaking the recipe just a bit and I’ve served it on salads, as a sandwich spread and a veggie dip. It’s also fabulous drizzled over salmon, chicken, pork and shrimp. Last week Scott and I rented a condo at Kiawah Island on the coast of South Carolina and we went through a whole jar (the recipe makes a lot!) of this dressing during our stay. It took simple beach meals to a fresh, vibrant, gourmet level!
In addition to being crazy delicious, I love that this dressing is relatively light in comparison to some dressings. It’s wonderful being able to add SO much flavor without adding a lot of calories (less than 100 for 3 tablespoons, yay!).
This recipe actually came about several years ago. My daughter-in-law, Lindsay was coming for lunch and I decided to prepare a salad for us with fresh greens, tomatoes, black beans, corn, rotisserie chicken and tortilla chips. I was especially excited about the dressing, as it was one that I’d read about online, a copycat recipe from a Southwestern-inspired restaurant chain called Café Rio. It had a zillion rave reviews and I’d been dying to try it.
It was easy to put together; just throw the ingredients into a blender and whir it all together. It was done in just a few minutes, and we sat down for a south-of-the-border lunch.
Did the famous dressing live up to the hype? I can’t speak for the original Cafe Rio dressing, but this particular copycat dressing was a bit disappointing. Not bad, but Lindsay and I both agreed, not out-of-this-world-delicious either.
I couldn’t let get the recipe out of my mind though, so I decided to play around with some of the same ingredients and create my own rendition. I tinkered around for the next few days and, in the end, came up with a recipe we love. As in L-O-V-E!
This is not a Cafe Rio copycat recipe, since I’ve never had the original and it’s quite different from the copycat recipes I’ve seen; but it is insanely delicious, for sure!
So easy to throw together
This Light and Spicy Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing comes together quickly in the blender, just like the copycat recipe. Just combine all the ingredients (Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeño, fresh ginger and garlic) and give them a good whirl. That’s it!
The dressing is wonderful drizzled on grilled salmon and it’s a perfect pairing with this fabulous Mexican Sugar-Seared Salmon Salad. This salad will be sure to wow your guests for a casual, easy, dinner party entree with a beautiful presentation.
If you’re not a cilantro fan…
I’m calling my dressing Light and Spicy Buttermilk Cilantro Dressing. But just a little “heads up”; although the recipe does call for a generous amount of cilantro, you might be surprised if you’re not a cilantro fan. When you combine all the ingredients together, it’s not the cilantro taste that comes through, just lots of fresh, vibrant flavor. That being said, this dressing would also be delicious with fresh basil in an equal amount.
Either way, I promise you want this Light and Spicy Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing in your life… asap!
P.S. I mentioned that this dressing is nice drizzled over salmon. It pairs PERFECTLY with this Mexican Sugar Seared Salmon!
Café Tips for Light and Spicy Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing
- Jalapeño peppers can vary in heat levels so be careful. It’s better to start with just part of a jalapeño, add everything else and blend the dressing together, then taste it. You can always add more, but you won’t be able to remove the heat. We like things spicy, but not super hot, so generally I add one medium jalapeño with some of the seeds – however, I have had to add more if I’ve had milder jalapeños.
- Ginger? Yes! Although ginger is generally used more in Asian cuisine, it gives a delightful pizzazz to this dressing, in combination with the other ingredients. Don’t skip it!
- This Light and Spicy Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing calls for a package of buttermilk dressing mix. I came up with my own Homemade Buttermilk Dressing Mix awhile back. It’s delicious (and has no preservatives or weird chemicals) but it’s also fine to use a package of store-bought buttermilk ranch dressing. You can also buy buttermilk dry dressing mix in bulk, which is nice to have on hand.
- The way this dressing looks will depend on the type of blender you have. A regular blender will yield a dressing that’s pale green with tiny specks of green cilantro. A heavy-duty, high-speed blender will result in a dressing that’s deeper in color with no specks of cilantro. Both are delicious!
- I mentioned above that you could use basil to sub for the cilantro. You can also use a half and half mix (of fresh basil and cilantro) with fabulous results.
This Light and Spicy Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing is the most insanely delicious dressing you'll ever meet. Use it on salads, pizza, sandwiches, as a dip for chips or veggies, on nachos, quesadillas, salmon...
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise (I like Hellman's)
- ¾ cup Greek yogurt I use Fage
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 cup finely chopped cilantro packed tight (1 medium-size bunch)
- 1 small or medium jalapeño - Leave the seeds in if you like it spicier but see note in Café Tips above.
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons Buttermilk (Ranch) Dressing Mix 1 packet
- milk to thin, if needed
Combine all ingredients in a blender container. Pulse on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving to allow flavors to meld. Dressing will also thicken a bit. If it's too thick, thin with milk as desired.
Nutritional information does include 1 packet of Buttermilk Dressing Mix. 3 tablespoons of the homemade recipe has approximately the same number of calories.