Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette (Plus How to Make Grilled Fish Tacos)

We’ve posted a lot of Cafe Rio/Costa Vida-esque knockoff recipes that we’ve developed, like the Creamy Lime Cilantro Dressing and the Green Enchilada Sauce. Well, while I was living in Utah, but especially since I haven’t lived close to my favorite Mexican restaurants in over two years now, I have wanted a recipe for their Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette. See, some people are die-hard fans of their creamy dressing, while others prefer the vinaigrette, and I’m somewhere in the middle. In fact, I used to order a little cup of each because I could never make up my mind.

Well, I searched and searched the internet over and have not found any knockoffs of the vinaigrette. So I decided it was time to make my own. And I failed. A lot. This dressing has been a work in progress for a long time. But, my friends, the stars have aligned and the second I tasted this, I knew it was right. It doesn’t look exactly like their dressing because I emulsify the oil, but I promise, it tastes amazing.

cilantro lime vinaigrette-2

Ingredient Notes

  • Oil – This recipe calls for canola or vegetable oil because of its light flavor. If desired, you could use extra light olive oil. Avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil tend to be too strongly flavored.
  • Vinegar – Rice or white wine vinegar are tangy without having too much of a bite. White vinegar would be ok, too.
  • Lime Juice, Cilantro, and Garlic – Use fresh limes, cilantro and garlic! No jarred juice, or canned or dried garlic.

How to Make Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette

You’ll just need a few ingredients that you may already have on hand–canola oil (olive oil was too strong), rice or white wine vinegar (regular white vinegar would also work), lime juice, sugar, Kosher salt, lots of garlic, and cilantro.

cilantro lime vinaigrette ingredients
  1. In the jar of your blender, combine some lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar. Blend on high until everything is combined.
  2. With the blender running, pour the oil in as a steady stream.
  3. Add cilantro and blend until the cilantro has broken down but it isn’t completely pureed–you want to see some of the texture of the cilantro leaves. And that’s it!
cilantro lime vinaigrette-2
cilantro lime vinaigrette-3 copy

Serving Suggestions

I love this dressing on just about any salad, but I also love it because it works fabulously as a fresh, bright marinade for just about any kind of meat. It’s great drizzled over tacos, burritos, or any other Latin-inspired dishes. I personally love it on fish tacos!

These Beer-Battered Fish & San Diego-Style Fish Tacos are delicious, but I also love this dressing on grilled fish tacos. To make these, just marinate any kind of mild white fish (like cod, tilapia, red snapper, or mahi mahi) in lime-cilantro vinaigrette for about 20 minutes.

Lightly brush a grill with oil and cook over medium heat for 8-12 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish) until the fish flakes easily. Flake the fish and season with Kosher salt and a little extra dressing if you like. Serve the flaked fish in either homemade flour tortillas or corn tortillas.

Like with the fried fish tacos, you’ll need to slightly cook the corn tortillas so they don’t overwhelm the flavor of the fish; you can brush them with olive oil and bake them in an oven set to 425 for about 5-10 minutes, cook them in a skillet with some olive oil until they start to brown but are still flexible, or, as one of our readers suggested, run them under some water and then cook in a hot cast iron skillet.

Serve with pico de gallo or mango pico de gallo, cabbage (cole slaw mix), cotija cheese, guacamole, and lime wedges and salt for seasoning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this ahead of time? Absolutely! I’d recommend using the dressing within 5 days after preparing. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Did You Make This?

I’d love to hear from you! Snap a picture and tag me on Instagram, then come back and give this recipe a rating!

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

4.50 from 2 votes
A fresh-tasting Latin-inspired vinaigrette, this is perfect for salads or as a marinade for al kinds of meat and fish.
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice about 2-3 juicy limes
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup light flavored oil extra light olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro stems removed


  • In the jar of your blender, combine lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar. Blend until ingredients are completely combined. With the blender running, add the oil in a steady stream. Add cilantro and blend until the cilantro has broken down but still maintains some of its texture. Serve with greens, on any type of Mexican salad, or use as a marinade.
Author: Our Best Bites
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. Oh my this sounds amazing!! Its bright and early in the morning and I want to make this NOW! Thanks so much for sharing :):)

  2. I made this dressing (with these tacos) tonight and at my first taste I also thought the flavor was overwhelmingly canola. By dinnertime (a few hours in the fridge to rest) the other flavors came out beautifully. That said, I think next time I'll decrease the amount of oil a titch.

    My husband, who does not like fish, loved these tacos. Yippee!

  3. Omg! I just tried making this salad dressing last night. I love cilantro and this dressing was amazing! It was not hard to make at all. Everyone enjoyed it and it was just on regular salad, no need for anything mexican themed.

  4. Analisha–My guess is that either the cilantro and garlic didn't get chopped up enough in the blender or that it hasn't stood for long enough. If you try it again (or try blending it some more and let it stand), let us know how it goes! 🙂

  5. I have been trying many similar recipes, but haven't found that right one yet. This recipe sounded perfect it smelled delicious, but tasted of canola oil only. Do you have any suggestions on how I can fix this or avoid it in the future?
    Thanks so much for many wonderful recipes.
    [email protected]

  6. Just made these – SO wonderful! I used mahi mahi and it was so moist and tender and flavorful after marinating in the dressing. Served with mango pico and slices of avocado (also fabulous!). So fresh and tasty. Thank you!

  7. AWESOME!!! I had tried a recipe I found online…..but this is SO much better!!! You never dissapoint!!

  8. oh my goodness, these were amazing!! i poured a little dressing right on to the tacos as well! thanks for the recipe!

  9. mmm thanks for posting this! Can't wait to try it? Have you come up with a recipe for costa vida sweet pork? You should post it if you do! MMM now I want costa vida!

  10. I've never been to Cafe Rio so I know nothing of their dressing, but Trader Joes has an awesome Cilantro Lime dressing that is always out when I go in to buy it! Now, I can make it anytime. Thank You!

  11. Made the grilled fish tacos for dinner. Can I just say DELISH??!! Really, really good. The cilantro lime vinaigrette is the perfect sauce for drizzling. Thanks!

    Oh, and I used olive oil spray (found in the grocery store section by Pam, etc.) to spray my corn tortillas before cooking on my griddle. Perfect… not too oily, yet they were flexible and just the right amount of flavor.

  12. I drizzled this on steak tacos with shredded lettuce and fresh pico de gallo and it was soooo good. A couple hours after dinner I went through my fridge in search of anything I could dip in the leftover dressing!

  13. These sound amazing! I so prefer grilled fish tacos to fried… And with this dressing, I think these are going to become a new regular in our line up.

  14. these look DELICIOUS!!!!!!!! i will definitely have to attempt them- fish tacos were a weekly staple at home in Hawaii, and I have not found a decent recipe since. These look like they will satisfy my craving. Love the blog!

  15. I made this vinaigrette last night and brushed it over my chicken breasts. It was SOO good. My husband was sold. I think it is probably my new favorite way to cook chicken. I coupled it with the cilantro pineapple rice, chips with mango pico de gallo and some corn. YUM!!! Thanks for all the great recipes.

  16. "oh crap, don't have anything for dinner meal" Egg and (whatever I have to throw in it)potato Frittata!! Two main things that are usually in my kitchen.. eggs, cheese and potatoes! Fast, easy, cheap and all the picky eaters like it!

  17. I saw this earlier and knew what we were having for dinner. I just finished a batch of the vinaigrette but mine end up being green goddess green. I think I blended it a bit too long but it's still tasty. Thanks for sharing.

  18. I'm going to give this a whirl. I recently found a supposed copy-cat recipe on-line and it down right nasty. I've got my fingers crossed for this one. 🙂

  19. Hey Kate,
    This looks oh so good! We love to grill fish, thanks for a new way to feed our habit!

  20. I had my very first taste of Cafe Rio a couple weeks ago when I went with my mom and youngest sister to drop off the middle sister at BYU… it did not disappoint!! I didn't get to try any of the dressing, but this looks great and I love a good marinade.
    PS: I also love your cool glass pitcher w/ stopper! 🙂

  21. OMGosh!! I can't wait! Lolly's juju must have sent me this 😀
    I am trying this out asap

  22. I have to tell you…I've been scouring thrift stores (because I'm cheap…er…thrifty) to find a cute little glass pitcher like the one you guys always use for your pictures here. And a couple weeks ago I found one for a buck. I was so excited! It actually has some buttermilk syrup in it currently…yum!

  23. You guys already know that at this point the creamy lime cilantro dressing is part of my DNA… is it possible that this NEW version will take it's place???

    I cannot wait to find out!