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Kalyn's Kitchen

Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing

If you’ve had the creamy tomatillo dressing from Cafe Rio, this recipe for Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing can help you make it at home! And this tasty dressing is low-carb, low-glycmeic, gluten-free, and South Beach Diet friendly! Use the Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.

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Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing found on KalynsKitchen.com

Every place has its own food culture, and if you live in Utah, Cafe Rio is a big part of that culture. I’ve loved Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing since the first time I tried it, and ten years ago my brother-in-law Kelly gave me some copycat recipes for Cafe Rio Dressing, Chicken, and Rice, which I posted on my then brand-new food blog. This Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Dressing is the adapted version I’ve made over and over since then, and it really does taste just like the famous creamy Cafe Rio dressing.

I love the slightly sharp tomatillo flavor that makes this Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Dressing so good, so when I have lots of tomatillos, I sometimes increase the number of tomatillos and decrease the amount of buttermilk in the ranch dressing. Do that if you’re a tomatillo fan like me and you want more tomatillo flavor.


Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing found on KalynsKitchen.com

I’ve seen various versions of this dressing around the web, sometimes with canned tomatillos but I always use fresh Tomatillos. (Back in 2007 an anonymous commenter left the tip of roasting the tomatillos before using them in the dressing. I’ve tried it both ways and still feel that the roasting step is completely optional. If you’re trying the version with roasted tomatillos, cut them up and roast for 15-20 minutes in a 400F oven. Watch them, and remove when they start to get barely browned.)

I confess I often use a package of Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Style Salad Dressing Mix for the base of this dressing, but you can make your own Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing or Buttermilk Dressing to use as the base if you prefer. Whichever version you’re using, mix up two cups of Ranch dressing in a small bowl. (If you’re using the package mix, it will seem thin because the dressing needs to chill for an hour or so.)  If you’re planning to increase the amount of tomatillos, remember to put a little less buttermilk or milk in the dressing.

Remove large stems from the cilantro, wash and spin dry or dry with paper towels, then finely chop it in the food processor. Add the tomatillos, garlic, lime juice, and Green Tabasco sauce or jalapeno pepper and process about 30 seconds, until ingredients are finely pureed. Then add the 2 cups of Ranch dressing and pulse a few times, just until ingredients are well combined. Chill Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Dressing for an hour or two and serve!

Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing found on KalynsKitchen.com

Some Salad Ideas with Cafe-Rio Flavors:

Leftover Chicken Chopped Salad with Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Dressing ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Copycat Cafe Rio Veggie Salad with Vegan Tomatillo Dressing ~ Happy Food Healthy Life
Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Flavors ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Pressure Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad ~ Pressure Cooking Today

Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing

This dressing tastes just like the famous creamy Cafe Rio dressing.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups prepared Ranch Dressing
  • I usually use a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch buttermilk mix, but you can make your own (see notes)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, large stems removed (about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro)
  • 2 large or 4 small tomatillos
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 T fresh lime juice (see notes)
  • 1 tsp. Green Tabasco sauce or 1 diced jalapeno pepper

Directions:

  1. Prepare Ranch dressing according to directions on the package or recipe you’re following and put in the fridge to chill. (If you have time, chill the dressing made from the package mix for an hour or two so it can thicken.)
  2. Remove large cilantro stems, then wash leaves and spin dry or dry with paper towels.
  3. Add cilantro to food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until finely chopped. (If you don’t have a food processor, I’d chop all ingredients well by hand and then blend dressing in a blender.)
  4. Add tomatillos, garlic, lime juice, and Green Tabasco or chopped jalapeno to the food processor and pulse until ingredients are finely pureed.
  5. Add the 2 cups of prepared dressing and pulse just a few times, until ingredients are well combined.
  6. Chill dressing for an hour or two and serve.

Notes:

Try Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing or Buttermilk Dressing if you prefer to make your own. I use my fresh-frozen lime juice.

This recipe adapted from a recipe for Cafe Rio Dressing, Chicken, and Rice that I got from my brother-in-law Kelly.

Variations:
~To make a roasted tomatillo dressing, dice tomatillos, place on a baking sheet, and roast at 400F for 15-20 minutes before adding them to the food processor.
~If you’d like even more tomatillo flavor, use 4-5 large tomatillos and decrease the buttermilk or milk in the Ranch dressing by about 1/4 cup.

 

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Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Dressing would be good for any phase of the South Beach Diet, or most other types of low-carb eating plans. I often use this dressing on a salad with leftover roast chicken, which makes a great low-carb meal.

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Blogger Stuff:
This recipe was first posted for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Anna’s Cool Finds. Anna has some Utah roots, so I think she might have liked the recipe!

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    50 Comments on “Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing”

  1. This is really good! I wanted to make it today but didn’t have tomatillos so I used Herdez (brand name) Salsa Verde instead, ratio about 2 parts ranch, 1 part salsa, with a squirt of fresh lime juice. I used it to make coleslaw today and can’t wait to try it on other salads and will also try the original recipe when I have tomatillos. Thanks!

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  4. We love this dressing too. Such a great bottle 🙂 Thanks for linking to my salad recipe.

  5. Mimi, great idea; thanks for sharing!

  6. One Thanksgiving I made an all Southwestern meal, which included a side dish of sweet potato enchiladas topped with tomatillo sauce. This is definitely a creamier version of what I made, but it's still a fabulous combination. And, you could add turkey to the enchiladas!

  7. Well, I've seen tomatillos on rare occasion in grocery stores but never had the slightest clue what to do with them. If I ever see them again, I'll get a few and then revisit this recipe.

  8. Regina, honestly I don't know how that would taste. It might be close if you added the cilantro.