This taco salad dressing is a twist for the traditional one, but absolutely delicious. It’s made with zesty flavors you’ll love that give your taco salad a healthy spin.
Craving a healthy yet delicious twist to your taco salad? This dressing is one of my favorites. It’s plant-based and dairy-free, gluten-free and even oil free. But wow, it packs a serious punch of flavor! If you love cilantro, you’ll adore this one!
I originally made this dressing for a taco salad, which is is delicious on, but quickly was finding excuses to put it on everything. It’s amazing on eggs, tacos, flank steak and more. If there’s something you’d put cilantro on, you could probably drizzle this amazing stuff on it too.
It’s green, creamy and oh-so-dreamy!
Why Make your own Taco Salad Dressing?
We eat a lot of salads in our house and one thing I’ve learned is that homemade dressings are not hard to make and almost always 1000% better than what you can buy at the store. Store-bought dressings are typically loaded with preservatives and unhealthy additives—hint, hint—there’s a reason why they last for months in your fridge.
Making your own allows you full control over how much sugar, sodium and fat go into your dressing so you can be sure that what you’re eating is actually good for you!
The Key Ingredients for Creamy Cilantro Jalapeno Taco Salad Dressing
- Cilantro: Not only is this one of the most flavorful herbs, but it also boasts potential health benefits, as it is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and can contribute to improved digestion and help detoxify your body.
- Jalapeño: This adds a spicy kick to the dressing (less spice if you remove seeds). It also provides health benefits, thanks to their capsaicin content, which may aid in metabolism, promote cardiovascular health, and potentially have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Lime: Adds that nice acidic kick to the dressing and also provides some vitamin C, antioxidants, and citric acid, contributing to immune system support, skin health, and improved digestion.
- Raw Cashews: This is what gives the dressing its creamy texture. Cashews contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, essential minerals like magnesium and zinc, and valuable proteins, contributing to improved heart health, enhanced immune function, and overall well-being.
- Garlic: One you might already know for its health benefits. It adds a kick to the dressing and gives your body a little boost with its antimicrobial properties that may aid in immune system function and combatting infections.
Essential Tools You’ll Need
The one thing you will need to make this dressing is a high-speed blender. You soak the cashews to soften them, but if you don’t have a great blender, you won’t end up with a creamy texture. A longer soak time can definitely aid in making cashews softer, but a high-speed blender like a Vitamix makes it so easy.
If you’ve been wondering if you need a Vitamix, read my review here. I held out for years because of the price, but eventually caved and bought one and I can tell you without a doubt it has been so worth the cost. We use it at least once a day for our morning smoothie! I also use it for making date caramel for my vegan snicker bars, salad dressings, doughs and pureeing soups—I only have good things to say abou it!
Okay, now back to our salad dressing.
Other than a great blender, you don’t need anything fancy. A lime squeezer is helpful, but you can use a fork if you don’t have one. You’ll also need a bowl for soaking cashews and a knife for cutting cilantro. One other handy tool you might love is this rubber garlic skin remover. My mom stuck it in my stocking years ago and it’s been one of my most-used kitchen gadgets because it works so well.
How to Make Creamy Cilantro Jalapeño Taco Salad Dressing
Step 1: Soak Cashews
Before you do anything, you’ll need to soak your cashews. If you’re short on time you can pour boiling water over them and let them sit for at least 30 minutes. If you plan ahead, something I rarely do, you can pour water over them the night before, cover and let sit. A longer soaking time is essential if you don’t have a high-speed blender.
Soaking cashews (or any nuts for that matter) can actually make them easier to digest. This process can reduce the anti-nutrients like phytic acid, promoting better digestion, and increasing the bioavailability of essential nutrients, contributing to improved nutrient absorption and overall digestive well-being. If you have any gut or digestion issues, this is a good thing to know when cooking with any nut.
Step 2: Choose your Spice Level
I love that you can easily tailor this recipe to your own taste levels. If you like more spice, you can add some of the jalapeño seeds. If you don’t want any spice and just the flavor, remove the seeds and membranes before adding this.
I typically start with a small amount of seeds and taste test after it’s all blended. If I want to add a kick, I’ll toss in a few more and blend again. The spice does increase as it sits, so be aware of that before adding too many.
Step 3: Blend Ingredients Together
Put all the ingredients into a blender and power it up! I start on a lower setting and slowly move up to the highest. I usually let it run or a couple of minutes to ensure that creamy consistency.
Step 4: Season to Taste & Chill
Use a clean spoon and taste your dressing to see if it needs anything. We all have different tastebuds and preferences so you may want to add a little more of one of the ingredients to fit your taste profile. If it needs salt or pepper, adjust. Blend it again if you’ve added anything.
Then pour into a glass jar and store in the fridge. The blades from the blender can warm the dressing up a bit, so I like to pop it into the fridge for a bit to make sure it’s chilled before using.
Creamy Cilantro Jalapeño Taco Salad Dressing
- high-speed blender
- 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked overnight or for 30 minutes in hot water
- 1 bunch cilantro stems removed
- 1 jalapeno seeds removed*
- 1 clove garlic small clove
- 1.5 limes juiced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cold water
- Soak the cashews overnight, or pour boiling water on them and let stand for at least 30 minutes to soften.
- Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until creamy, scrapping down the sides as needed.
- Place in the fridge to cool—the blender blades can heat it up.
- Serve on taco salad, breakfast tacos, steak, chicken and more!
Customization Options for Taco Salad Dressing
Depending on your own personal tastes, you can add more cilantro, more jalapeño, more seeds or more lime to make it perfect for you. If you’re not big on raw garlic, you can skip that entirely. I do suggest using a small clove because it can become spicy and overpowering if you do too much.
Tips for Storing and Preserving Dressing
This dressing will keep for about a week in the fridge. It will oxidize a bit over time and won’t be quite as green, so I do suggest making this on the day you plan on eating, or just a day before.
Use an air-tight glass jar to store. I often save old glass jars from tomato sauce and pickles and wash them, remove the labels and reuse for sauces, vinaigrettes and more.
The Best Healthy Taco Salad Recipe
Now you might be wondering, what should I put this delicious green sauce on? Try it on my healthy taco salad recipe—it’s one of my favorites and also makes for great leftovers.
This simple and easy creamy cilantro jalapeño taco salad dressing is full of delicious and healthy ingredients like cilantro, lime, cashews and jalapeño. Save this recipe (click the heart over on the right to create or login to your account) to cook for your or your family soon and get ready to elevate your taco salad with this delicious homemade dressing.