This delicious Pollo Tropical inspired Cilantro Garlic Sauce is so easy to make and versatile! It can be used as salad dressing, dipping sauce, or a taco topping. Just throw all of the ingredients into the food processor and blend.
Use this cilantro garlic sauce recipe for steak, chicken, or fish too! It adds so much flavor to a simple grilled or pan seared protein.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe & What You’ll Learn
- This creamy cilantro garlic sauce only requires a few simple ingredients, like garlic, fresh lime juice, fresh cilantro, and onion powder. It is different from a Brazilian cilantro garlic sauce, which is more like a chimichurri.
- This sauce is a cross between a garlic cilantro aioli and crema because it has both sour cream and mayo.
- Garlic cilantro lime sauce is super versatile. Use it as a dipping sauce for fries, veggies, or chips, on tacos, or as a salad dressing. This list goes on!
- This garlic cilantro sauce recipe is inspired by the sauce served at Pollo Tropical. It is kind of a Pollo Tropical copycat, but better.
- Cilantro garlic sauce only takes 5 minutes or less to make in the food processor.
- This cilantro sauce recipe is great for meal prep because it can be used in so many different ways.
- This sauce is gluten free, keto/low carb, and vegetarian. It can be made vegan by using dairy free sour cream and egg free mayonnaise.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Sour Cream: Both full fat and low fat will work. I like to use full fat because it makes the sauce a little richer and creamier. You can also use Greek yogurt.
- Mayonnaise: Use a high quality mayo, like Sir Kensington's.
Helpful Equipment & Tools
How to Make Cilantro Garlic Sauce
- Throw everything in the food processor and blend until smooth.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Place the sour cream, mayo, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and onion powder in the bowl of the food processor.
Step 2: Pulse until smooth and there are no garlic chunks left. Add water to thin if needed.
Make Ahead & Storage
- Refrigerator: Store cilantro garlic sauce in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Use good quality mayo. I highly recommend Sir Kensington's mayo. It has a great flavor.
- Use the cilantro stems. The stems have just as much flavor as the leaves.
- Use a spatula. A spatula is very helpful for scraping down the sides of the food processor bowl and transferring the cilantro garlic sauce to an airtight container.
- Blend until completely smooth. Stir the sauce and make sure there are no large pieces of garlic or any unblended cilantro leaves stuck to the bottom or sides.
- Taste as you go. Add more lime or salt if needed.
- Thin the sauce if needed. You can add a little water to the sauce if you prefer a runnier consistency.
- This recipe can easily be scaled. Since the recipe only yields a little over a cup of cilantro sauce, you can double or even triple it if you have a large food processor.
- Spicy: Add ½-1 jalapeño with the seeds and membrane or ¼-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Taste as you good so it does not get too spicy.
- Vegan cilantro garlic sauce: Use a vegan mayo, like Primal Kitchen’s, and a dairy free sour cream, like Kite Hill.
- Cooked garlic: If the raw fresh garlic is too strong, roast the garlic in the oven or sauté it on the stove.
Easy Cilantro Garlic Sauce
- ⅔ cup sour cream*
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise*
- 1 cup cilantro leaves & stems, packed
- 1-2 limes, juiced
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- salt to to taste
- Place the sour cream, mayo, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and onion powder in the bowl of the food processor.
- Pulse until smooth and there are no garlic chunks left. Add water to thin if needed.