April 15, 2013

Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing



I've been wanting to make my own creamy cilantro dressing ever since we tried the one from Trader Joe's last year. Store-bought dressings are convenient, but making your own brings a whole new level of flavor and freshness that's hard to beat. Plus you can control the ingredients, leave out additives/preservatives, and tweak it so it suits your taste buds just right. Yogurt is a great alternative for achieving creaminess and it works fantastic in this dressing. (Update: avocado also works, and is my go-to now!) You can serve it right away, or make it ahead of time to chill in the fridge so it's ready to go whenever you are. It's great on salads, wraps, drizzled on tacos for an extra flavor boost, and as a fun veggie dip. We love tossing it with the Southwestern Chopped Salad - delicious! :)

Notes and variations
We love this basic, light, refreshing dressing as is, but it's also easily customizable. Here are just a few ideas if you'd like to play around to please your own taste buds:

To add heat, use cayenne pepper or jalapeno.
For a different flavor combo, add cumin, more garlic, or more lime juice.
If you prefer to tone down the tartness, add a little honey/agave.
For vegan/dairy-free, use plain non-dairy yogurt. Avocado also works great! (You can also use this recipe as a guide, replacing lemon-basil with cilantro-lime.)


Recipe yields 3/4 cup dressing

Ingredients
1 cup loosely packed cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped
1/2 avocado (or 1/2 cup plain coconut or Greek yogurt)
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime), more to taste
1-2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. salt
Recommended: cumin, honey/agave

Directions
Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

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143 comments:

  1. This sounds delicious! Love the beautiful green colour too :)

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  2. mmm this sounds amazing! i'll have to try it!

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  3. Oh goodness....this sounds amazing! Cilantro and lime are two of the yummiest thing ever :)

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    1. Thanks Courtney. Agreed! I can never get enough :)

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  4. This looks so delish. I am a happy new follower.
    Elle
    http://bodybyzen.blogspot.com/

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  5. Sounds amazing have to try this soon

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  6. How long does this dressing stay "good" for in the fridge? Thanks!

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    1. AH - I wish I had an answer for that! I'm certainly no expert in food safety, so unfortunately the best answer I can give is use your best judgement :) In our house, it's always eaten up within a few days, so anything past that I'm not sure. I would guess it'd be good for at least a week, possibly more. Sorry I couldn't be more help, but hope you enjoy!

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    2. I made a similar avocado dressing that still tasted okay 2 weeks later. I think the oil and citrus will help it stay fresh for a while, but probably not as long as a store bought one.

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    3. Maybe to the date of your yogurt expiration?

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  7. My favorite creamy cilantro lime dressing comes from ourbestbites.com. ill try this one too!

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    1. Hi Laura! I'll have to go check that one out too - thanks!!

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  8. is there anything you can substitute for the oil?

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    1. Hi Samantha! I couldn't think of anything off the top of my head so after a little research I found this. Might be worth a shot! Hope that helps :)
      http://www.wisdomfromthekitchen.com/fat_free_oil_substitite.html

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  9. Anything to substitute the yogurt?

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    1. There are non-dairy yogurts available (soy, coconut, and almond-based varieties). Or you may want to try silken tofu or possibly even avocado. I haven't tried those so I can't vouch for them yet :)

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    2. Sour cream.

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    3. I used avocado. Very good

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  10. Disappointed. There was no depth to the flavor, no slight tang, and no hint of spice. Used OBB instead.

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    1. In my notes and variations above I addressed some possible options to achieve tang and spice if that's what you were hoping for. The dressing itself is meant to be basic, creamy and refreshing, while still allowing room for people to tweak it to their tastes if needed.

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  11. I give you 5 starts Kaitlin,I made this last night and came up so good,you can also add a garlic glove in the dressing.

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    1. Thanks so much! :) So happy to hear you liked it. Totally agree about the garlic! I always add at least two huge cloves. I have to remember to dial back the garlic when I write out my recipes, keeping in mind not everyone is as garlic-crazed as I am ;) Thanks for the message!

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  12. I thought this was delicious! I used 1 avocado instead of the greek yogurt, buttermilk instead of the oil (to desired consistency), and added 2 jalapenos and 1/2 of a small onion. Thanks for the great idea!

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    1. Hi Lexi! WHOA that sounds seriously amazing - I really love your adaptions! Definitely going to try onion in ours next time :) Thanks for the message!

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  13. Is there anything I can substitute the vinegar with? I have every other type but white :(

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    1. Hi Tifanie! If you have cider vinegar, that would work. Or possibly even fresh lemon juice - I bet the natural acidity would work in place of the vinegar. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out if you get the chance :)

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    2. The cider vinegar turned out well. This dressing was awesome and the whole salad a big hit at our bbq. THanks!!

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    3. Woohoo!!! Glad it was a success at your BBQ :) You're very welcome. Thanks for coming back and letting me know!

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  14. Just made this dressing! Working on the Southwest salad to go along with it! I am thinking the salad and dressing combo would work well as a salad in a jar if I layered the ingredients instead of mixing. Thanks for the recipes!

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    1. Hi Sara! Great idea - I bet this would be awesome in a salad jar! Hope you enjoyed it :)

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  15. It was truly a delight. Made the dressing with the Southwestern Chopped Salad, and together it was amazing. I really enjoyed it and will definitely be making it again, maybe adding chicken next time. Super healthy, and Super Delicious! Thanks!! :)

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    1. Excellent! Glad you liked the salad/dressing combo - we really can't get enough. Thanks for the message!

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  16. Made it! So good. Love that I had all the ingredients sitting around.

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    1. Oh I LOVE when I find a recipe and I already have everything in the kitchen! No grocery trip required :) Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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  17. I can smell the cilantro through the monitor!

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  18. Sounds yummy. Sara Guerndt how about us trying it?

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  19. found you on Pinterest-made the salad and dressing for company(why do I always have company when I try new stuff??)and it was amazing! I love that it is pretty much guilt-free eating. I did add a smidge of Stevia to the dressing but it probably would have been fine,made a southwest ranch dressing for another option, and added chicken to the chopped salad. Now I have lots of ready-made salads in the fridge for lunches this week. love it! Thanks for the recipe.

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    1. Hi Susan! Haha, awesome to hear you were brave and tried this for the first time with company over :) And even better to hear it worked out! Yay! The southwest ranch dressing sounds crazy good too. I LOVE having salads ready to go in the fridge throughout the week. Makes life easy and delicious :D

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  20. Amazing dressing! I made it tonight and am in love. Thank you!

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  21. Can't wait to try this one, it looks so good. I love cilantro! Thank you!
    amy@amymayd

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    1. Hi Amy! Thanks for stopping by - hope you enjoy!

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  22. I love this and eat a lot salad so I just made it for the second time. Sometimes I sprinkle some Cholulu pepper sauce over it and it gives it punch while still being healthy. I'm sure any of the bottled hot sauces would work well. Thanks!

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    1. Hey Robin! It's great to have many healthy dressing options when you're a big salad fan. Glad you've adapted this to suit your taste! Great idea with the hot sauce :) Thanks for the message!

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  23. I wonder hot it would turnout if a ripe avocado was substituted for the yogurt?

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    1. I haven't done it yet, but readers have had great success using avocado in place of the yogurt! Would love to hear how it turns out for you too, enjoy! :)

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    2. I just did! it worked out great, however it's not pourable creamy. it's thick. (i did half the oil, i may add the other half, lol)

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    3. Hi Tiffany! Great to hear - thanks! :)

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  24. I made this with plain greek yogurt, and wish I hadn't. I also added some solid coconut milk to "tone down" the tartness of the GY - next time I will eliminate the GY altogether & sub with the coconut milk.

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    1. Hi there, and thanks for your feedback! I made a note in the variations above for those looking to avoid the tartness from the Greek yogurt. I hope it suits your taste better next time using all coconut milk instead! :)

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  25. So glad to find this! Always wonder why folks not happy with a recipe feel they must add their negative opinion, quite sad. Beyond that, loved the dressing. Had to add some almond milk to get it to blend in my blender. I think it was because the greek yogurt I used was quite thick. Just delicious. Like the idea of adding more garlic and perhaps some chili or peppers. Poured it over my egg-white omelet - perfect!

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    1. Oh my goodness... pouring it over an omelet!? What a genius idea - that hadn't even crossed my mind! Definitely trying that next time I make it. Glad you enjoy it. Thanks so much for your message!! :)

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  26. Hi Garden Grazer,

    Just posted this recipes as one of my Friday Favorites! Thanks for sharing!

    http://jordannicholejackson.blogspot.com/

    Jordan Nichole

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    1. Hi Jordan! So glad you enjoyed it - thanks for sharing :)

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  27. Made this to go along with the southwest salad, it was great! I added about a 1/4 cup of greek yogurt and 1/2 an avocado. It was still quite thick so I added some coconut water. Also added a jalapeno. I will be making this again, thanks!

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    1. I LOVE your adaptions! And coconut water is a great idea to thin it out a bit!

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  28. this is such a great little recipe. had a half of a lime and some left over cilantro and greek yogurt so decided to give this one a try. only had apple cider vinegar, so used that instead. garlic bunch i was working with had three cloves left, so i decided to throw in the extra one. might have gone a wee bit strong on the garlic as a result, however still very good. color is beautiful too! i'm thinking this could be good on chicken or even in replace of sour cream on tacos. thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. Hi Brenda! It's definitely a versatile recipe. Would love to hear if you try it on anything else! Thanks for the message, and glad you enjoyed it :)

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  29. Thanks for the recipe! I used it tonight for some Mexican salad. I was a little nervous when I tasted it in my finger because it seemed a little strong, but on the salad it added the prefect amount of kick.

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    1. Hey Kali! Happy to hear it worked out for you!

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  30. I just made this. I like the concept, but it needs some tweaking. i'd ditch the oil altogether- unnecessary. I found it overpowering, like it left an oilyness in my mouth. and add more lemon and salt, but that's just personal preference. I like a lot of flavor.

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    1. Yep, feel free to tweak it to your taste however necessary!

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  31. Do you think sour cream would work n place of the Greek yogurt?

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    1. I haven't tried that, but I bet it would as they are often substituted for each other. Would love to hear how it goes if you end up trying it!

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  32. Hi! I just made this and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I'm gonna eat it all summer! Thanks!

    Pst! I also love the internet and pinterest, how else could I sit here in Sweden and make your recipe!?!


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    1. Hi Frida! YAY!! This is a perfect summer recipe - so refreshing! Glad you enjoyed it :)

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  33. Wow! I found this recipe via Pinterest and just made this dressing tonight. It is so delicious! I had to stop myself from eating it all with a spoon before it made it's way to the salad. I am dairy free for now, so I used avocado instead of the yogurt and I added a dash of coconut milk to achieve the desired consistency. Really really good! So excited to add it to my arsenal :)

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    1. Hey Kate! I share your struggle in resisting to devour this all with a spoon every time I make it. I suppose that's what double batches are for? ;) So glad you were able to tweak it to your taste and enjoy it! Thanks for the message!

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  34. I just made your dressing. I added some hot sauce, a bit more garlic, used rice wine vinegar and added a teaspoon of sugar. It tastes amazing and I can't wait to add it to the salad tonight. It reminded me a bit of a chip dip we used to get in Austin but that had an additional ranch flavor. I think this would be great over fish tacos as well!

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    1. Hi Beeker! I LOVE your adaptions and glad you liked it. It's great over tacos - give it a try! :)

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  35. I added about 1/4 tsp. cumin and 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, a whole lime and about 1/2 the cilantro (didn't have enough on hand)...it was DELISH!!! Thanks for the GREAT dressing!!!

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    1. Wonderful!! Thanks for sharing - so glad you enjoyed it!

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  36. Loved it!!! Tried it last night for our Ensenada style tacos. I eliminated the oil and added low fat mayo, paprika, Haas avocado and some green onions....yummy!!! Thanks!!!!

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    1. Awesome!! I'll have to try paprika in mine next time - sounds great! :)

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  37. Just made this and it is so delicious!! Will definitely make this often for my salad dressing :) Thanks for posting!

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    1. Hi Nicole! Glad you liked it - thanks for coming back and letting me know!

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  38. So this was awesome! A little too tart for my kids, though. So I added 2 TBS of honey to it and they ate it right up!

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    1. Hi there! That's great to hear! It is a bit tart and I'm so glad you were able to tone it down for your kiddos to enjoy. Thanks so much for the message! :)

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  39. Found this recipe on Pinterest and I'm going to make it for the 4th party at my house. I'm going to use sour cream and buttermilk in place of the greek yogurt. I'm sure it will be delicious even though it may not be as low in fat as it could be. ;)

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    1. Oh, and I'm going to add a little fresh garlic too. Thanks for the recipe!

      -jennifer

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    2. Hey Jennifer! Hope you and your guests love it at the party!! Fresh garlic is great in the dressing. Thanks for the message and happy 4th! :)

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  40. I made this salad dressing last night and really liked it! Everything blended up nicely, and between the cilantro and garlic there was a nice kick. Next time I'll add some more kick with pepper/cayenne. I really enjoyed having a creamy salad dressing while still being healthy.

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    1. Hi Jessica! Great to hear! Hope you enjoy it even more next time with a little kick :)

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  41. This is so good on tacos and fajitas.

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    1. Glad you like it. I totally agree! It adds a little something unexpected but so delicious!

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  42. EXCELLENT salad! Very light and refreshing for summer, but the beans give it some substance.

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    1. Thanks! So glad you're enjoying the salad! I love black beans and tend to put them in everything I can :)

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  43. Will be trying this tonight. Thank you.

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  44. I have made it twice already and I love it. I love the tart flavor, the freshness the cilantro gives and the creamy texture.

    The first time I made it, I might have added a little bit less garlic and followed the rest of ingredient list. The second time I made it, I omitted the salt, added more cilantro and lime and added a spoonful of cream cheese. It is SO yummy, I also love how it is so simple to make.l

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    1. Hi there! I love that played around with it and did your own customizing :) It's so fun to do with this recipe! Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the message!

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  45. Was really really good. I added a bit too much salt so to save it I blended in half an avocado and it was fine. I also added a dash of ground cumin. Will definitely make this often!

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    1. Hi Mairi! Yay! Glad it was a success for you. GREAT save with the avocado! I'm a cumin lover myself and always add it as well :)

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  46. the southwest chopped salad with cilantro lime dressing was DELICIOUS - thank you for sharing it!

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    1. You're welcome! :) Glad you tried it and enjoyed it!

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  47. Has anybody tried freezing this? I can't go through it all before it goes bad. thanks!

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    1. Hi! I haven't tried freezing this, so unfortunately I'm not sure how well it would hold up. You could definitely cut the recipe in half if you don't want to waste any though! Hope you enjoy!

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  48. Has anyone compared this recipe with the awesome Cilantro Dressing from The Cheesecake Factory Restaurant? I know theirs is dairy free and I believe was told has a little orange juice in it in addition to Lime and maybe even a little pineapple juice. It has no preservatives. I purchased a bottle at a rest. recently and it had to be refrigerated on the way home from out of town. It did last over a week.

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    1. Hi Suzanne! Thanks for the message. I've never tried The Cheesecake Factory's cilantro dressing - that sounds amazing. I love the addition of other citrus flavors and pineapple juice. People have had great success making this one dairy free with avocado in place of greek yogurt if you want to give that a shot!

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  49. I used Vegenaise (a vegan mayo) in place of the yogurt and it turned out really well. Thanks for this dressing recipe -- I poured it over a "southwestern quinoa" dish and it's yummy!!!

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    1. YUM! Great idea for a substitution with the Vegenaise - glad it turned out well! I'll have to try it over a southwestern quinoa dish next time :)

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  50. Hi there!! I was looking for a good salad to make with cilantro dressing. Glad that I found this recipe on Pinterest. Thank you for sharing this!!!

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    1. Hi there! You're very welcome - so glad you like it!

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  51. Very good!!! I added some honey. Will definitely make again!

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    1. Honey is a great addition! Glad you enjoyed it enough to make again! :)

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  52. Must be really yummy, as tasty as it looks.

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    1. Only one way to find out ;) Hope you give it a try!

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  53. I made this dressing last night. We were going to have the Southwestern Chop Salad with it but my back crapped out. The dressing was WAY too tart for both of us and I added some honey to even the flavors out. Worked great! It's really thick but I'm guessing it will get thinned out a little by the juices/wetness of the ingredients. It's now going to be dinner for today.

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    1. Glad you were able to work out the flavors to suit your palette. Hope you enjoyed it for dinner!

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  54. This is like the fourth or fifth recipe of yours...amazing. Can I come live with you? lol

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    1. Hahaha c'mon over - the more the merrier! ;) So awesome to hear you're loving the recipes!!

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  55. I cook weekly dinners at church, and this is my most frequently requested recipe. Everyone loves it! I always add some honey, though, the tartness is just too much without it. Excellent recipe.

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    1. Ahhh that's awesome! I also tone it down with honey for my family members that don't enjoy the tartness as much as we do ;) And how sweet of you to cook dinners for people at church! Thanks for the message - take care :)

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  56. I don't like cilantro - what can I substitute?

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    1. You could use parsley or basil if you like either of those!

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  57. This looks delicious! Any idea how long it keeps? I have some cilantro that is about to go bad, and I am wondering if I might be able to preserve its life by turning it into salad dressing... thoughts?

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    1. Hi there! We've kept this in the fridge for about 4-5 days before it gets eaten up (so anything past that I'm not sure.) I've also used cilantro right before it goes bad and it seems to hold up well in the dressing! Hope you love it :)

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    2. I made this (with half an avocado thrown in as well) and it was such a nice change from regular salad dressings. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    3. Yay! Glad you liked it and found it a nice change of pace! Avocado is awesome in this :)

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  58. Just made this tonight and it was so easy but with big bite. I may have put in too much garlic for my hubby's liking but I LOVED it! Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. Awesome! I'm like you and love a big bite :) This is pretty tart as is, but I often add honey/agave to tone it down a little. Glad you liked it!!

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  59. I got a great deal on cilantro the other day, 4 bunches for $1. I was actually looking for a cilantro pesto recipe, but found this first and Im glad I did! I made it last night, totally inspired by your southwest salad and it turned out great. Here are my tweaks according to what my pantry and fridge had: I used Meyer lemon (just squeezed about 2 quarts last weekend) added about one Tablespoon of oil to help emulsify, apple cider vinegar and.. this is the best part - as well as 1 cloved of garlic, I added 1 teaspoon of GARLIC JELLY. Yes, Garlic Jelly! It added some sweetness to the acidic lemon/vinegar and more garlic flavor. I got the jelly as a travel gift to myself while driving thru Gilroy, CA (the Garlic Capitol) To give this gift to anyone else, I would include a recipe card or two - this recipe being one of them. Thanks for being here and posting this great, totally tweakable recipe! Have a great day :)

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    1. Oh I get so excited for cilantro deals :D 4 for $1 is amazing!! I loved reading your message and am so happy you liked the dressing. Garlic jelly - whaaaaat!?!? My mind is blown. I've definitely never heard of that, but feel I need to make a road trip ASAP to the garlic capitol now ;) Your version of this dressing sounds incredible!! Thanks for sharing!

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  60. I cant wait to make this for fish tacos this weekend!

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    1. Yay! Hope it's a perfect match for your tacos! :)

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  61. Any suggestions for a cilantro substitute?

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    1. Fresh parsley or basil could work if you like either of those. Or you can try my creamy avocado lemon-basil dressing instead! :)

      http://www.thegardengrazer.com/2014/03/creamy-avocado-lemon-basil-dressing-dip.html

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  62. I made this today, and thought it needed a little something extra so I added 1/2 teaspoon each cumin, red pepper flakes and Vegeta seasoning, so yummy!!! Gave it a spicy kick!

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    1. Hi Linda! Your additions sound wonderful!! So glad you were able to tweak it to your liking! Thanks for the message :)

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    1. Great to hear Jo! Glad you enjoyed! :)

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  64. I made this twice now and both times it got an amazing response. My sister loved it and I did not at all think she would. I never use a recipe to its entirety, I always modify it like crazy. With this one, I added more cilantro (about 1 1/4 cup), cumin, paprika, honey, a couple shakes cayenne pepper sauce, juice & zest of 1/2 lime and 1 oz of tequila. The paprika and cayenne pepper sauce added a subtle kick at the end and the tequila added a unique flavor. Still stuck with the 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt, 2 cloves garlic, and 1/4 (ish) EVOO. I omitted the vinegar because I didn't have any and I am not a huge fan anyway.
    Thank you for sharing this! Sorry for all the mods! :D

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    1. Hey Erika! I'm definitely the same way with recipes, and have trouble following them exactly :) I love hearing when people tweak the recipes to suit their taste. Glad you did, and glad it was a success!! Tequila - NICE! ;)

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  65. Just made this today with vanilla Greek yogurt and it turned out delicious !!!! Both on salad and on grilled salmon !!

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    1. Awesome! So glad you enjoyed it and even turned it into a multi-purpose dressing! Love that :)

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