This Cilantro Lime Crema is creamy and zesty cilantro lime dressing and sauce with double lime flavor from both the zest and juice. Cilantro adds a fresh, fragrant, herbal note. I use this Mexican cilantro lime sauce on everything from Baked Chicken Tacos, Fish Tacos with slaw, and Chicken Street Tacos to a surprise drizzle on Game Day Nachos or my famous Chili Con Carne.
What Is Cilantro Lime Crema?
This creamy Cilantro Lime Crema is a delicious sauce often used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. It’s made with a few simple ingredients including sour cream (or sometimes Greek yogurt or Mexican crema fresca, which is like creme fraiche), fresh cilantro, lime juice, and often a bit of salt.
Fresh, fragrant and creamy, this cilantro cream sauce can be used as a topping, salad dressing or dipping sauce for dishes such as tacos, burritos, salads, and grilled meats. It’s a versatile condiment that can enhance the flavors of a variety of spicy dishes.
If you love this, you must also try my Avocado Crema.
Gather Your Ingredients for Tangy Cilantro Lime Crema
Before you get started, let’s meet our star players or our Mexican sour cream sauce for tacos, bowls, and so much more:
- Sour cream: The creamy base of our cilantro lime crema. This luscious ingredient gives a velvety texture to our sauce.
- Mayonnaise: A thick and creamy companion to sour cream, it adds body and a bit of tanginess to our sauce. Sometimes people actually call this sauce “lime mayo”.
- Lime: With its zest and juice, the lime infuses our crema with a fresh, citrusy burst that’s wonderfully refreshing.
- Cilantro: This aromatic herb (also known as coriander) adds an unmistakable punch of flavor that makes this lime cilantro sauce a real standout.
- Kosher salt: A touch of this brings out the flavors of our other ingredients, enhancing the overall taste of our crema.
How to Make This Cilantro Lime Crema Recipe: Easy Step-by-Step Directions
Cilantro Lime Crema is extremely easy to make, requiring just a few ingredients and zero cooking time. Trust me, once you try it, it’s going to become a kitchen staple.
- Combine Ingredients: Here’s where the magic happens. Each ingredient plays its part to create a symphony of flavors. So throw them all together and get ready for the transformation.
- Stir Well: Get in there and mix things up. This ensures all those wonderful flavors are evenly distributed throughout the sauce. If you want a vibrant green sauce, blend it up in a blender or food processor to puree the cilantro right in.
- Chill: Give it a break. Letting the crema sit in the fridge allows all the flavors to deepen and meld together, elevating the overall taste.
- Serve: The final flourish. Drizzle your crema on your favorite dishes and watch them transform from everyday to gourmet. It’s that simple and oh-so-delicious!
Grab these Tools
Ready to make a magical cilantro sauce for tacos? Here are the simple tools you need.
- A small bowl: This will hold all your ingredients together and give you enough space to mix them thoroughly.
- A whisk or a spoon: Essential for ensuring that all the flavors meld together into a creamy, homogeneous mixture.
- Zester and juicer: These are key for extracting all the zest and juice from your lime, which will give your crema that fresh and tangy edge.
How to Serve Cilantro Lime Sauce
Get ready to jazz up your meals! This crema is a superstar when it comes to versatility.
This versatile Mexican cilantro lime sauce is my go-to for enhancing dishes like my from-scratch Ground Beef Tacos, Quesadillas, Baked Chicken Tacos, Spicy Fish Tacos, and Chicken Street Tacos. It also adds a delightful twist when drizzled over Game Day Nachos or my renowned Chili Con Carne. I use it as a dressing on burrito bowls, vegetarian Taco Salad with refried beans or black beans, and drizzle it over my Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos.
It adds a bright, creamy touch that’s simply irresistible. Not just that, you can also use it as a dip for tortilla chips, raw vegetables or roasted potatoes. Just imagine the satisfaction of dipping a crispy tortilla chip into this creamy, tangy sauce!
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
Wondering how to store this delectable sauce? We’ve got you covered!
This sauce is perfect for meal prep as it can be made in advance and stored. Just ensure it’s in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s best used within 5 days, although the flavors develop even more over time. And remember, always give it a good stir before using it.
Variations and Substitutions: Switch It Up and Get Creative
Looking for ways to make this recipe your own? Check these ideas out!
Lighten It Up: Swap out the sour cream for plain Greek yogurt for a lighter twist that still packs a creamy, tangy punch.
Bring the Heat: Add some fire to your dish with minced jalapenos, finely-chopped serrano peppers or a splash of hot sauce for an extra kick.
Herb Swaps: Not a fan of cilantro? No worries, just leave it out and enjoy a delicious Lime Crema instead.
Make It Vegan: Go plant-based by trading dairy ingredients for vegan alternatives like vegan sour cream or unsweetened dairy-free yogurt and vegan mayo. Plus, it’ll be gluten-free too (just watch out for cross-contamination with the mayo jar).
Spice It Up: Toss in finely minced serrano peppers (start with 1/4 of a pepper and adjust to your desired heat level).
Pro Tips for the Ultimate Crema
Here are some insider tips to help you nail that perfect Cilantro Lime Crema!
Fresh is Best: Fresh lime juice and zest make all the difference, so ditch the bottled stuff if you can.
Chill Out: Give your crema some fridge time (at least 30 minutes) before serving to let the flavors really come together.
Make It Yours: Feel free to tweak the lime juice, cilantro, and salt amounts to suit your taste buds – this recipe is all about flexibility!
Cilantro Lime Crema is made of sour cream, mayonnaise, fresh cilantro, and the zest and juice of a lime, all combined and mixed together to create a tangy, creamy sauce. A touch of kosher salt is often added to enhance the flavors.
Mexican crema is a type of Mexican cultured cream that has a slightly tangy flavor. You can use sour cream as a substitute for Mexican crema in most recipes. While the flavors and textures might be slightly different, sour cream will still provide a creamy and tangy element to your dish. If you want to make it more similar to Mexican crema, try thinning the sour cream with a little milk or lime juice and adding a pinch of salt.
Other Mexican Recipes You’ll Love
We travel to Mexico every year and are obsessed with collecting the best Mexican recipes (as well as creating yummy fusion). Here are some reader favorites:
- Spicy Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw + Lime Crema: Crispy fish fillets topped with tangy slaw and creamy lime crema, a flavor-packed taco delight.
- Chili Con Carne: A comforting Mexican chili filled with tender ground beef, beans, and a medley of spices. Sounds like a hug in a bowl, doesn’t it?
- Ground Beef Tacos: Classic ground beef tacos made from scratch with the perfect blend of spices, toppings, and that crave-worthy homemade flavor.
- Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas with White Sauce: Gooey, cheesy chicken enchiladas smothered in a creamy white sauce, a delicious twist on a Mexican favorite. You’ll go for seconds!
- And of course, if you love Mexican cream sauces, you must also try my delicious Avocado Crema.
Cilantro Lime Crema
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- juice and zest of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- Combine Ingredients: In a small bowl, add the sour cream, mayonnaise, lime zest, lime juice, minced cilantro, and kosher salt.
- Stir Well: Mix all ingredients together until well combined.
- Chill: Let the crema sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Serve: Use your crema as a drizzle on your favorite dishes, and enjoy!
- Swap sour cream for Greek yogurt for a lighter touch.
- Add diced jalapenos or hot sauce for heat.
- Skip cilantro for a simple Lime Crema.
- Use vegan alternatives for a plant-based, gluten-free version.
- Include minced serrano peppers for extra spice.
- Add a minced clove of garlic for a different flavor profile.
- Opt for fresh lime juice and zest.
- Chill crema for 30 minutes before serving.
- Adjust lime, cilantro, and salt to your taste.
Last Updated on October 16, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD