Healthy Cilantro-Lime Sauce

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This Healthy Cilantro-Lime Sauce is thick, creamy, and ridiculously flavorful! It’s hard to believe this is a naturally dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan sauce, but it is!

Overhead image of the Healthy Cilantro-Lime Dressing

Healthy Cilantro Sauce

My original Cilantro Lime Sauce is a go-to on so many recipes. I almost always have a batch of it in the fridge. Whether we’re drenching Shrimp Tacos, Baked Chicken Tacos, or Air Fryer Chickpeas, everyone goes crazy for it!

But through the years of sharing recipes using this sauce, I’ve received countless emails or comments asking how to make it a bit healthier or how to make it without the mayo.

Well, I finally rose to the challenge and after a few weeks of testing, I am so thrilled with the result — I can’t wait for you all to try it!

QUICK TIP

The ingredients in this Healthy Cilantro-Lime Sauce are naturally gluten free, but make sure to check all your ingredient labels to be sure they weren’t processed in a facility with gluten.

Overhead image of all the ingredients in a blender

Ingredients

Here’s a quick breakdown of the ingredients in this Healthy Cilantro-Lime Sauce:

  • Fresh limes: We love zesting the lime with a microplane and then juicing with this citrus juicer. When zesting, avoid the white pith of the limes–it can be quite bitter.
  • Minced garlic: Use jarred, frozen, or fresh — whatever you prefer.
  • Fresh cilantro: Take a fresh bunch and loosely pack it in the measuring cup for the perfect measurement.
  • Jalapeño: Remove the seeds and ribs to control the heat in this sauce or leave in ’em for a spicier sauce!
  • Cashews: We use these raw cashews.
  • Olive oil: We recommend extra-virgin olive oil for the best possible flavor.
  • Water: We thin the sauce with water, but don’t worry– it doesn’t make it bland! With so many intense flavors, the water balances everything nicely and ensures it can blend into a nice smooth sauce.
  • Salt and pepper. No sauce is complete without salt and pepper, and this creamy sauce is no exception. Add to your taste preference, remembering that an extra pinch can be the difference between a good and a stellar sauce!

How To Make This Healthy Cilantro-Lime Sauce

This sauce is as simple as adding everything to a blender or food processor and giving it a whirl! Taste, adjust, and enjoy! Below are a few tips:

  • Which to use—a high-powered blender or a food processor? Either works just fine, but to get an ultra-smooth sauce, use a powerful blender. In the food processor, you’ll have a slightly chunkier sauce (the cashews won’t break down as well).
  • For the smoothest possible healthy cilantro-lime sauce, soak the cashews to ensure they’re softened. 
  • Chill the sauce: This is a great sauce to make ahead of time as it gets more flavorful as it sits. It also tastes better cold!
  • If you’d like a slightly sweeter sauce, add a drizzle of honey. Depending on the cilantro used, you may want to add a touch — there can be some flavor variation from bunch to bunch.

Process shots-- images of the dressing after blending

How To Use Homemade Cilantro-Lime Sauce

Healthy Cilantro-Lime Dressing in a bowl

More Homemade Dressing Recipes:

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Healthy Cilantro-Lime Sauce

5 from 1 vote
This Healthy Cilantro-Lime Sauce is thick, creamy, and ridiculously flavorful! It's hard to believe this is a naturally dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan sauce! 
Print Recipe

Healthy Cilantro-Lime Sauce

5 from 1 vote
This Healthy Cilantro-Lime Sauce is thick, creamy, and ridiculously flavorful! It's hard to believe this is a naturally dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan sauce! 
Course Salad, sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword Healthy Cilantro-Lime Dressing, healthy cilantro-lime sauce
Prep Time 15 minutes
Soaking Cashews 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 1 cup
Chelsea Lords
Calories 765kcal

Equipment

  • High powered blender (We love this mini “Twister” jar for all sauces and dressing!)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeño (seeded & coarsely chopped to measure out)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 large lime zest & juice (2 tbsp juice; 1 tsp zest)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Fine sea salt & pepper
  • Optional: honey (Note 1)

Instructions

  • SOAK CASHEWS: Place cashews in a heatproof bowl and pour about 1 cup of boiling water over them. Let stand for at least 10 minutes up to an hour and then thoroughly drain and let dry.
  • BLEND: Add drained & dry cashews and remaining ingredients to a small powerful blender or food processor (Note 2). Season to taste with salt & pepper (I add 1/2 tsp fine sea salt & 1/4 tsp pepper). Blend until completely smooth.
  • STORE: Place in the fridge to chill and for the flavors to intensify and meld. The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated; simply stir before serving. This sauce/dressing gets thick as it's stored, so if you'd like to thin it after storing, add in a touch more lime juice.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Honey: If you’d like a slightly sweeter sauce, add a drizzle of honey. Depending on the cilantro used, you may want to add a touch — there can be some flavor variation in cilantro.
Note 2: Which to use — a high-powered blender or a food processor? Either works just fine, but to get an ultra-smooth sauce, use a high-powered blender. In the food processor, you’ll have a slightly chunkier sauce since the cashews don't always break down as nicely.
Nutrition information is based on the whole batch of sauce.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 765kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 71g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 46g | Sodium: 19mg | Potassium: 629mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 897IU | Vitamin C: 59mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 5mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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