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Copycat Recipes | September 22, 2011

Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing

Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing is an essential component to any Cafe Rio style meal!

What’s a Cafe Rio salad without the dressing? While other copycat recipes use dried or bottled Ranch dressing, this recipe is all home made.
Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing  is creamy, tangy and a little bit spicy. Made with fresh tomatillos, and a fresh jalapeño, the amount of heat will depend on the amount of seeds you leave in the dressing. If spicy dressing is not to your liking, make sure to remove most of the seeds from the jalapeño before adding to the dressing. Also, it is good to know that any spice added to the dressing is likely to increase in intensity the longer it sits! I always use food handlers gloves when cutting up jalapeños they leave juices and oils on hands long after washing, and can cause a lot of irritation to your eyes when touched even hours after cutting up. If you don’t have food handler’s gloves, you can use a plastic grocery sack on each hand!

Tomatillos are found in the refrigerated section of the produce department.   They look like small green tomatoes when peeled and are covered in a paper like skin. When purchasing fresh tomatillos, look for fruit that is firm to the touch, the squishy tomatillos are most likely overripe or damaged! Make sure to thoroughly wash the tomatillo after peeling as stated in the recipe as they usually have a bit of dirt and oily film on the skin.

I like to use a blender or an immersion blender when making Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing. Throw all of the ingredients in a large jar or the blender and whirl until smooth. So simple and fresh. If your family loves dressing, you may want to make a double batch!

Interested in making more copycat Cafe Rio recipes?

5 from 5 votes

Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing

Course Salad
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword cafe rio dressing, Creamy Tomatillo dressing, salad dressing
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 30
Author A Bountiful Kitchen


  • 2 cups mayonnaise not light
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro washed, stems removed
  • 3 to matillos  washed thoroughly, dried and quartered (remove outer paper-like skin)
  • 2 stems green onion green parts only
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 jalapeno seeded
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice about 2 limes
  • sea salt to taste about 1 teaspoon


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or use a hand immersion blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Store in refrigerator.
  3. Yield, about 20 servings.
  4. Keeps in fridge for about 10 days.

25 thoughts on “Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing

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Recipe Rating

  1. Um. Blonde question. When you say jalapeno, seeded, does that mean de-seeded? Or to leave the seeds … I'm assuming I need to get rid of them or this will be SPICY!

  2. Brooke- yes that means de-seeded. and remember, asking questions and experimenting will only make you a better cook! Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. This dressing is spot on! Thank you so much, we love it! Do you know if it can be frozen for later use?

    1. Thank you! I have not ever frozen the dressing? Im guessing it will not freeze well but if you give it a try, please come back and leave a comment and let us know!

  4. You ROCK! Searched high and low for this dressing that is truly homemade and it was SO disappointing to see how many people have to rely on a packet of MSG-ridden dust from Hidden Valley to make a dressing!

    I’ll give yours a try … I’m hopeful. Thank you! : )

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe is spot on. I had my friends try it, and they liked it better than Cafe Rio’s!

  6. We’ve got someone who is allergic to milk products, but not yogurt. Do you think I could sub yogurt in for your cream? :/ Will it change the flavor too much?

    1. Hi Hannah, you can substitute yogurt for cream for the dressing. It shouldn’t change the flavor too much. Thanks for asking and for reading ABK!

  7. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! The only thing I’d add is one hidden valley ranch dressing packet! (Make sure it’s the packet and not the actual dressing☺️) seriously though, adding it makes this recipe PERFECT!

  8. I made this today for the first time. The dressing seems to taste too much like mayo/sour cream. Wondering if I should add more of the other flavors, or will it be better later after it has time to sit in fridge?

    1. Hi Angela,
      Sorry Im missed your question earlier! You may wan to try plain Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream next time. You may like the flavor better, it is a bit lighter!

  9. 5 stars
    This was great! I love that it didn’t require a packet of dried ranch dressing powder! I added 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder for an extra punch of flavor because I didn’t have a jalapeño on hand (also my kiddos are weenies about heat).

    1. Hi Melissa,
      I agree, this dressing is so good without the packaged mix! You might want to try 1/2 of the called for Jalapeño next time!

  10. 5 stars
    This is amazing!! I only had one cup of sour cream, so I used that plus one cup of milk. It is so perfect. I want to drink it. Thanks, Si!

  11. 5 stars
    I made this for a missionary homecoming. Everyone said it was the best cafe Rio salad ever!