Cafe Rio’s Cilantro Ranch Dressing

Oh Cafe Rio’s 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!
Cafe Rios Cilantro Ranch Dressing
Most people say that their favorite menu item at Cafe Rio is the Sweet Pork, but I say without a MOMENT of hesitation that mine is the Cilantro Ranch Dressing! It is spicy and tangy and SO GOOD. I seriously put it on everything — our Cafe Rio Burrito and Cafe Rio Salad for sure, plus quesadillas, sandwiches – I even dip veggies in it! I can’t keep it in the fridge for more than a few days before the bottle gets licked clean!
The recipe is seriously so simple — just toss all the ingredients in the blender and blend away! But, I’ll share a few tips about the ingredients. Make sure that you get the TRADITIONAL Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix, NOT the buttermilk. It won’t taste like the real Cafe Rio stuff with any other brand or type. Try to get the freshest ingredients that you can! Also, if you like it spicy, leave the seeds of the jalapeño in, but if you don’t like it as spicy, than take them out.
Our Cafe Rio recipes are what first made our site take off. We posted the recipe for Sweet Pork – find it HERE – and people went crazy over it. Little by little we figured out more recipes now we have a huge collection! We get 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! Make sure to send us your feedback, too!
To view ALL of our Cafe Rio / Costa Vida copycat recipes, click HERE.

Our Version of Cafe Rio’s Cilantro Ranch Dressing

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  • 1 packet TRADITIONAL Hidden Valley Ranch mix (not BUTTERMILK)
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced
  • 1/2 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)


  • Mix all ingredients together in the blender. That's it!


  1. Analisha says:

    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. Anonymous says:

    The real stuff has cayenne not jalapeno

    • Alabama says:

      Just my opinion, but the jalapeno gives it a better flavor.

    • Carinne says:

      Thanks for sharing this! What’s the shelf life and can it be canned for long term storage?

      • Erica says:

        It can’t be canned for long term– lasts in the fridge for about a week 🙂 Hope this helps!

  3. S says:

    I always have trouble with this being too runny. Any suggestions?

    • Alabama says:

      Mine was runny too, and with guests already at the house I added a LITTLE bit of sour cream. It thickened it just enough and didn’t affect the flavor.

    • Carla Hansen says:

      Using Best Foods mayo was much better for the consistency than Kraft.

      • Emily says:

        Agreed! We love Best Foods!

  4. Erica says:

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

  5. Di says:

    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.

  6. christi @ burlap and basil says:

    thanks so much for the cafe rio recipes!!

  7. Laura says:

    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!

  8. rynhere says:

    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.

    • Lue says:

      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!

      • shelly says:

        I know people who work at Costa Vida and it is buttermilk ranch 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!

  9. Timber says:

    Does the brand of mayonnaise matter? I normally don’t eat it so I’m clueless 🙂

    • Erica says:

      I would say Best Foods… But I am a mayo snob! Others may say a generic brand is ok but I like the Best Foods.

  10. Katie says:

    Can you freeze this? I always have leftovers!

    • Erica says:

      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!

  11. Heidi says:

    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?

    • Erica says:

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

    • Kirsten says:

      You could try maybe 3/4 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup sour cream. That should help, too.

  12. Zuzanna Czerny says:

    Yummy, I just made it and it tastes awesome! I love it, thank you!

  13. Jeanine Neider says:

    How much does the Cilantro Ranch Dressing recipe make?

    • Erica says:

      It should make about 2-3 cups.

  14. Liz says:

    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.

    • Erica says:

      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

    • Sandra says:

      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.

      • Sara says:

        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!

        • Linda Morgan says:

          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.

  15. Ashley Dennis says:

    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!!

    • Erica says:

      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!

  16. Elizabeth says:

    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.

    • Tania says:

      Thanks for the tip! I used half Best Foods regular mayo and half Best Foods olive oil mayo. So yummy!

  17. Denise Panter says:

    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!

  18. Karen says:

    I am trying not to eat dairy products. Any ideas for substituting the mayo and buttermilk?

    • Erica says:

      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!

  19. Nancy says:

    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.

    • Erica says:

      You can probably make it 5-7 days in advance and be fine! Hope this helps!

  20. Aggie says:

    How long does this last? Have you ever frozen it or canned it?

    • Erica says:

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

  21. Aleesha Bake says:

    I couldn’t love this recipe more. I live in NC and there are NO Cafe Rio’s OR Costa-Vida’s. Makes me so sad, so we make this recipe a lot, and have educated all of our friends on its deliciousness! I even did a review of your recipe on my blog. Thank you so much for this awesome recipe!

    • Erica says:

      Thank you so much for your review! We are so glad that you like the recipe– it is one of our very favorites!

  22. Julie Staley says:

    I wish there were estimated serving amounts listed on the dressing recipe. Thanks for figuring this recipe out!

    • Echo says:

      The standard dressing serving size is 2 Tablespoons, but honestly this dressing is so good that I’m sure we use more than that per serving. Having said that, there are approximately 16 servings of dressing in this recipe. Thank you for asking!

  23. Mommy at home says:

    So before I became a stay at home mom, I was an assistant manager at Cafe Rio. This recipe is actually the closest you can get to the original in my opinion after reading it. I haven’t actually tried it yet but after reading the comments I think I know why people are complaining about it too runny. Blend everything besides the mayo and buttermilk and seasoning….separately whisk those 3 items to the constancy you want but remember your adding the blended stuff after this still so that will also make it thin out.

    • Erica says:

      Thank you so much for the tip! That is a great idea for keeping it thicker. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Mallory says:

    I love this dressing! I made it last night and i blended the tomatillos and think thats what made it super runny. i’m not too sure though. but it was still super good! I added onion to mine because we LOVE onion. Thanks for the recipe!

  25. Julia says:

    How do you get this to last? Every time we make this it goes bad within a day or two and tastes horrible. We store it in the fridge but it separates and gets gross.

    • Erica says:

      We usually eat it up before having to store it.. I think the longest we have had to store it is maybe a day or two :/ I didn’t know it separated like that. Anyone else have this problem?

  26. Krystal says:

    Followed the recipe exactly and to me it tasted like watery lime and cilantro. Did I not let it set enough? Any suggestions??

    • Erica says:

      HMmm it may have needed more time to set up? I’m not sure :/

  27. Amanda says:

    I love this stuff! Yum!

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