This cilantro lime crema recipe is made in just 10 minutes with a bunch of fresh ingredients and is also highly customizable. Mild, creamy, and tangy, this creamy sauce is the perfect topping for your tacos, quesadillas, and nachos!
Cilantro lime crema is a creamy sauce or dressing that combines the flavors of cilantro and lime juice along with the spiciness of fresh chili peppers. It is a popular condiment in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine and is often used as a topping or accompaniment for various dishes.
This easy cilantro lime crema recipe uses only a small bunch of ingredients like cilantro, lime juice, Mexican crema, garlic, and green chili peppers. All those ingredients are blended together until smooth and nicely incorporated.
What Is Crema?
In Mexico, crema is a dairy product that is similar in texture to sour cream but has a milder and slightly sweeter flavor. It is made by fermenting cream with lactic acid bacteria, giving it a tangy taste.
Mexican crema is often used as a condiment or topping in various dishes. It is commonly drizzled over crispy tacos, tostadas, and sopes to add a creamy and tangy element. It can also be added to soups, enchiladas, and quesadillas for flavor and richness.
Also, Mexican cream is used to make salsas, like chipotle crema sauce, to add creaminess to guacamole, and to prepare other Mexican dips.
Ingredients & Substitutes
- Mexican Crema: Set the base for this delicious sauce. However, you can also substitute it with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.
- Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise adds creaminess and a sweet touch to this salsa but you can easily leave it out if you want a healthier version.
- Fresh peppers: I like to use serrano or jalapeño chiles, but any green fresh chili pepper will work on this recipe.
- Cilantro: Cilantro is the hero of this sauce. It brings in freshness and a subtle green hue. If you can’t find cilantro where you live, replace it with coriander seeds and add a few leaves of parsley for color.
- Lime: Lime juice is ideal for its citrusy and tangy flavor. You can also replace it with lemons in a pinch.
- Garlic: Garlic brings in a deep savory flavor to this cilantro lime cream sauce. You can also use garlic powder instead.
- Milk: Use milk to adjust the consistency of the sauce. The more you add, the runny the salsa will be.
- Seasonings: Salt and pepper to taste.
How To Make Cilantro Lime Crema Recipe
Wash the cilantro sprigs thoroughly and remove any tough stems. Pat them dry with a paper towel.
TOP TIP: Don’t discard all stems of the cilantro sprigs, they add tons of flavor to this condiment!
Peel the garlic cloves and remove the stems from the chilies. You can leave them as they are for a spicy kick or remove the seeds and membranes if you don’t like spicy.
Add chilies, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper to a food processor or a blender. Blend until all ingredients are nicely chopped.
Now, add cream, mayonnaise, milk, and then pulse a few times to combine all ingredients together into a creamy sauce.
TIP: You can also add a bit of lime zest for fragrance and a kick of flavor!
Adjust salt and pepper to taste then transfer to a bowl and serve, or place in a jar and store in the fridge until needed.
Recipe Tips & Notes
Making this cilantro lime crema recipe is really easy. I make it often and even if it’s your first time, I am confident you won’t have any trouble if you follow my step-by-step recipe.
However, here are a few tips and notes that you might find helpful:
- Use fresh cilantro leaves, fresh lime juice, and fresh garlic cloves for the best flavor.
- When adding lime juice, start with a smaller amount and gradually add more until you achieve the desired level of tanginess.
- Find the right balance between creaminess and tanginess. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a little more lime juice or milk to achieve the desired consistency. If it’s too thin, adjust it with a bit more cream.
- If you prefer a mild flavor, cut the chilies in half lengthwise and use the tip of a knife to discard the seeds and membranes.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Chilling allows the flavors to meld together and gives the sauce a better consistency.
Looking for some creative ways for adding a kick to your cilantro lime crema recipe? These are my favorites:
- Avocado: You can blend in half of a ripe avocado to the basic cilantro lime crema recipe for a creamy and velvety texture.
- Chipotle: For a smoky touch, blend one or two chipotle peppers in adobo into the sauce.
- Honey: For a touch of sweetness, add a teaspoon of honey or agave syrup to the basic cilantro lime crema recipe. The honey balances the tanginess of the lime juice.
- Vegan: Make it vegan by substituting with vegan options of cream, mayo, and milk.
How To Use
This cilantro lime crema tastes divine and you can’t stop yourself from eating it with a spoon! But let me tell you how to use & serve this creamy sauce…
- Tacos: Drizzle this sauce on top of those potato tacos and enjoy the freshness and tanginess it brings. It goes so well with shrimp or fish tacos too.
- Salad: This sauce serves as a perfect dressing on a taco salad. I like to replace regular cream for my ensalada de coditos (macaroni salad) with this. It is just SO GOOD!
- Burritos: Use this sauce as a spread for your favorite burrito recipe.
- Dip: Serve it along with totopos corn chips, roasted vegetables, or chicken wings.
- Soup: Spoon the sauce on soups. Its creamy texture and refreshing flavor will complement every soup! I love it with this caldo de queso!
- Marinade: Yes! you can use this creamy sauce to marinade your favorite proteins, I recommend chicken, pork, or fish.
Cilantro lime crema can last for about 5 to 7 days when stored properly in the refrigerator. It is important to note that the specific shelf life may vary depending on the freshness of the dairy used, so please pay attention to this.
To store it, transfer the sauce to a clean jar or glass container with a tight lid and place it on the highest shelf of your fridge.
To prevent any spoilage or contamination, always use a clean spoon when taking the sauce from the jar.
What is Mexican crema used for?
Mexican crema, a creamy and slightly tangy condiment, is widely used as a versatile topping for crispy tacos, tostadas, and enchiladas, adding richness and balancing out spiciness.
Can you freeze cilantro lime crema?
Yes. You can freeze cilantro lime crema for up to 2-3 months. However, take in mind that the texture and consistency may change slightly after thawing. but it should still be usable in dishes where texture is less crucial, like in marinades.
More Sauces Recipes
Have you tried this Cilantro Lime Crema recipe? Leave a comment below to let us know how it turned out! Also, don’t miss out on our latest blog posts! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Cilantro Lime Crema
- 1 ½ cups Mexican crema (or greek yogurt, or sour cream)
- 1 bunch cilantro (read notes)
- 2 serrano or jalapeño pepper
- 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
- ¼ cup milk (optional, read notes)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 2 lime (juiced)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Cut the chilies in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes (read notes).
- Add chilies, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper to a food processor or a blender.
- Blend until all ingredients are nicely chopped.
- Add crema, mayonnaise, milk, and then pulse a few times to combine all ingredients together into a creamy sauce.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste then transfer to a bowl and serve, or place in a jar and store in the fridge until needed.
- Don’t discard all stems of the cilantro sprigs, they add tons of flavor to this condiment.
- You can leave the seeds and membranes on the chilies for a spicy kick.
- Adjust the consistency of the sauce by adding more milk or water, the more you add the thinner the sauce will be.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Chilling allows the flavors to meld together and gives the sauce a better texture.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.