Cafe Rio Tomatillo Dressing

Cafe Rio Tomatillo Dressing is perfect for salads and bowls, as a dipping sauce, and topping for tacos and burritos. This creamy cilantro lime salad dressing made with tomatillos has a spicy kick with jalapeno.

Copycat Cafe Rio tomatillo dressing in a mason jar.

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What Makes Cafe Rio Tomatillo Dressing So Good?

Are you searching for something a little different to spice up your salads? Then look no further than this Tomatillo Dressing recipe from Café Rio. It has all the creaminess you love from traditional ranch but brings a lot more to your table.

The freshness of the cilantro, the tart flavors from the tomatillos and lime juice, and the spice from the jalapeno give this dressing a complex taste other dressings can’t match. 

This creamy dressing is what you’ll find as the Cafe Rio house dressing at the popular restaurant.

Why You Should Try This Cafe Rio Dressing Recipe

You can find similar recipes that use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. While this will cut down on fat, the dressing will be a little too tart. Likewise for sour cream. The full-fat mayo in this recipe also helps to cut the heat from the jalapeno pepper enough to make the spice pleasant and not too painful. 

Tomatillo Dressing Ingredients 

For this dressing, you’ll need:

  • Buttermilk
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dry ranch dressing mix
  • Tomatillos
  • Garlic
  • Fresh cilantro chopped
  • Lime juice
  • Jalapeno pepper

Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix works well in this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite. 

Fresh lime juice is for the best flavor, but if you don’t have any, substitute two tablespoons of bottled lime juice. 

Copycat Cafe Rio tomatillo dressing ingredients.

Cooking with Tomatillos

Tomatillos aren’t an everyday ingredient for most people. You can find tomatillos in your grocery store’s produce section. They look like small green tomatoes.

If you are not used to working with tomatillos, here are a few tips to help:

  • Choose smaller, green tomatillos with green, moist husks in the supermarket since they tend to be the ripest. The fruit should be firm and not dent under light pressure. 
  • Store the tomatillos in the vegetable drawer in your fridge for up to two weeks. Do not remove their husks until you are ready to use them. 
  • To use, peel off the husk and rinse them off before cutting. 

How to Make It Cafe Rio Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

To prepare Cafe Rio’s Tomatillo Dressing: 

  1. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and roughly chop. 
  2. Cut off the stem of the jalapeno pepper, and it split open horizontally. Use a knife to trim off the ribs of the pepper and get rid of the seeds. Leave the ribs and seeds alone if you want to have the dressing extra spicy. 
  3. Add the buttermilk, mayonnaise, and a packet of dry ranch dressing to the bowl of a food processor or the jar of a blend. 
  4. Process for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to process until the dressing is smooth and creamy. Depending on the power of the equipment you are using, it may take a minute or two. Be patient and ensure no large chunks remain in the dressing. 
  6. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the dressing into a container and chill for at least an hour before serving.
Tomatillo dressing ingredients in a food processor.
Blended tomatillo dressing in a food processor.
Copycat Cafe Rio creamy tomatillo dressing in a mason jar.

How to Use the Dressing 

Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing is excellent on salads, as a sauce, or as an ingredient in another dish. See below for a few suggestions.

What to Serve It With

Drizzling Cafe Rio Tomatillo Ranch Dressing on just about anything will make it better. Try it on beef fajitas or tacos for an extra pop of flavor.

Use Cafe Rio’s dressing as a dip for taquitos, fish sticks, potato chips, or veggies. Mix the dressing with canned tuna or Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken to make a stand-out filling for sandwiches. 

How to Store the Salad Dressing 

Keep any extra Cafe Rio Tomatillo Dressing in an airtight container in the fridge. 

How Long Does It Last

Chilled Cafe Rio Tomatillo Ranch Dressing will last up to three days.

A spoonful of tomatillo dressing over a salad.

Favorite Salad Dressing Recipes

Check out more of my easy salad dressing recipes and the best salad recipes on CopyKat!

Copycat Cafe Rio tomatillo dressing in a mason jar.

Cafe Rio Tomatillo Dressing

Cafe Rio creamy tomatillo ranch dressing is great for salads, burrito or taco bowls, as a dipping sauce, and more!
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Sauces
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Salad Dressing Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Chilling: 1 hour
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 20
Calories: 90kcal


  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup full-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 package Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
  • 2 small tomatillos husks removed and cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 small lime juiced
  • 1 jalapeno seeds removed if you like it mild, or keep the seeds for spicy


  • Add the buttermilk, mayonnaise, Ranch seasoning packet, tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and jalapeno to a food processor or blender.
  • Blend for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the dressing is smooth and creamy.
  • Pour the dressing into a mason jar or airtight container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.


This recipe makes approximately 2½ cups of dressing.


Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 189mg | Potassium: 34mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 66IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 0.1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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