Our Version of Cafe Rio’s Cilantro Ranch Dressing

This Cafe Rio Cilantro Ranch Dressing is so stinkin' good! My husband loves this ranch so much he smothers his burrito with it. Yeah-- it is THAT good!  #caferio #cilantroranchOh this Cafe Rio Cilantro Ranch Dressing is So stinkin’ good! My husband isn’t a big fan of salad but he loves this ranch so much he smothers his burrito with it. Yeah– it is THAT good! Our Cafe Rio recipes is what first made our site take off. We posted the recipe for sweet pork and people went crazy over it. Little by little we figured out more recipes now we have a huge collection! We have gotten great feedback and positive comments from our fans out there. Check em’ out and you will see why we are the #1 site for Cafe Rio recipes!
To view ALL of our Cafe Rio / Costa Vida copycat recipes, click HERE.
Our Version of Cafe Rio’s Cilantro Ranch Dressing
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 1 packet TRADITIONAL Hidden Valley Ranch mix (not BUTTERMILK)
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced
  • ½ bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 jalapeno (we like it SPICY so we kept the seeds in it, if you like it mild, just remove the seeds)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in the blender. That's it!


  1. I am so glad that this isn’t a privage blog. I love this salad, and actually like your rice better than mine. The lime really gives it a nice kick. Thank you for sharing your recipes.

  2. I would maybe suggest using a little less buttermilk. If you let the ranch sit overnight it should thicken up a little too.

  3. It also helps to thicken it if you add a little flour to it. Not alot just a little. You can't taste the difference but it does give it more of a creamy texture.

  4. I live in Australia now so don't have access to fresh tomatilllos. I order the canned ones Forman American import shop here. Anyway, I found that four canned tomatillos do the trick for this recipe. I thought it would be too runny as the canned ones have a lot of liquid in them but as long as I make it a day ahead it thickens up just right. Just a tip for those who may not have fresh tomatilllos at hand!

  5. OK…I gotta comment here. I tried this. Too thick. Ditch the Jalapeno — Cafe Rio’s isn’t that spicy — seeds or not. Way off.

    • What?! I dunno what planet your cafe rio comes from but it is spicy! Blend it longer and it will thin it out…if you’re whipmy try a half jalepeno but there is for sure spice in there!

      • I know people who work at Costa Vida and it is buttermilk ranch packet..you make, as package says (I reserve some buttermilk to mix jalapeños and cilantro and tomatillos in blender with) after you blend you add the two together and, add lime juice..if you do them separate and don’t mix all ingredients in blender..then it doesn’t go runny!

    • I have never frozen it before so I don’t know how well it would freeze. If you try it please comment back here and let us know how it turns out!

  6. I also have trouble with this being VERY runny EVERY TIME and I have made this SEVERAL times. I ALWAYS make it the night before in hopes that it will thicken up, but, it NEVER does. Obviously we still eat it cuz it’s SOOO yummy, but, it would be nice if it would be thicker like the restaurant version. Someone suggested flour….I’ll try that next time. Honestly, that seems a little weird…..was wondering if there were any other suggestions?

    • Half the buttermilk next time.. it should thicken up a lot. Slowly add more buttermilk until you get the consistency you are looking for.

  7. Loved Cafe Rio, moved to Ohio, then California (NO Cafe Rio!) so I have been making this a lot over the past few years. A funny thing happened. I was visiting Utah and we went to Cafe Rio and I was totally disappointed! I think I have perfected my Cafe Rio cooking skills to the point where I prefer these recipes to the original. Thank you so much!

    Note- I roast the tomatillos and the jalapeno in the oven for the dressing. I also buy raw tortillas a cook them at home. I think it makes a huge difference.

    • Thank you so much for this comment! That is a great idea roasting the tomatillos and jalapeno. I am sure it gives it an even better flavor. Definitely trying that next time! We lived in Washington where there wasn’t a Cafe Rio and I remember going back to Utah and having it and thinking the same thing! I love that when you make your own you can make it perfectly how you want.. with as much or as little of everything as you like. Thanks again for the nice comment! – Erica

    • I live in CA and there are 2 or 3 Cafe Rio close to my home. I remember the day in Provo, when Cafe rio was still a solo shop, now it’s a franchise. Sad.

      • The original Cafe Rio was in St. George, not Provo. And to this day they are not a franchise – they are only expanding. How is that sad?? I say the more the merrier! Way to go small business growth and more delicious Cafe Rio for everyone!

        • Sara is right…..Cafe Rio is NOT a franchising company and has carefully planned their controlled expansion. How do I know this? I inquired of the owners if they would franchise and the answer was no.

  8. Wow!!! This was simply amazing! I made this 4 nights ago to try on my mock Cafe Rio chicken salad and my husband and I were just sitting in our chairs going Mmmmmmmmm the whole time we ate. Guilty confession: I have had this everyday since for lunch because he dressing it so divine. Haha. I am going to try more of your recipes – way to go!!! And yes, the dressing was runny- but I just took a large spoon and applied it to the lettuce that way. I’ll try some flour next time or maybe even some corn starch or X.gum. :) thanks!!

    • Glad you like it! If it is too runny for you– you can blend the tomatillos first and then use a fine mesh strainer to drain them. Just use the pulp. That should thicken it up a little!

  9. The recipe I follow says to blend everything but the mayo, then just wire whisk the mayo in. When I do this it is plenty thick.

  10. I make this same recipe abut instead of the tomatillos I use one cup of green salsa because you now can have pretty much of the ingredients on hand. It’s yummy!

    • I honestly don’t know how to direct you with this one. You could try using milk substitutes but I can’t promise it will turn out the same. Sorry I’m not of more help here!

  11. Need to feed a large group and will need to make several batches. Does anyone know how far in advance I could make this. My son is leaving for 2 yrs and he wants sweet pork salad at his going away event. I would like to get as much done in advance as possible. Any suggestions for the other ingredients in the salad would be helpful. Thanks.

    • It usually lasts about a week. I have never frozen it or canned it. I don’t think either would work too well :(


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