This zesty cilantro lime crema is a tangy, creamy, fresh condiment made from sour cream, mayo, lime juice, cilantro, and garlic! It's delicious on tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, served with grilled meats, dolloped on salads, or as a dip for quesadillas.
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Why You'll Love This Lime Crema Recipe
Having lived my whole life in California, I've been singularly lucky to have amazing traditional Mexican food available to me. It's part of our lifeblood here.
I take for granted that not everyone has a Mexican market in their neighborhood where they can easily pick up crema.
So, I've used some common ingredients to replicate traditional Mexican crema, and I've added lime juice, garlic, and cilantro to turn it into a sauce that can be used on everything from nachos to salads. It's creamy. It's tangy. It will disappear from your fridge.
One of my favorite ways to turn an easy dinner like grilled chicken into something special is with this delicious cilantro crema. Just spoon a little crema onto grilled meats or a plain quesadilla and you've got a pretty spectacular meal.
Plus, it's quick and easy to make, and only 5 ingredients (if you don't include the salt). All you need to do is chop some cilantro and garlic, then mix all the ingredients together and you're done!
What You'll Need for Cilantro and Lime Crema
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- Sour Cream I recommend using full-fat sour cream for this recipe.
- Mayonnaise Use your favorite brand. Or, if you do have access to Mexican crema, you can use that in place of the sour cream and mayo here.
- Garlic Fresh garlic is key to this recipe. I would not recommend swapping this for garlic powder. If you can't get fresh garlic, try using jarred garlic instead.
- Fresh Cilantro This is another ingredient I would not replace. If you can't find fresh cilantro, try having just a lime and garlic crema!
- Lime Juice If you're having trouble finding limes for fresh lime juice, you can buy bottled lime juice from most grocery stores.
- Salt My recommendation is always kosher salt when cooking. It is less salty per teaspoon than sea salt or table salt, making it easier to taste as you go and harder to oversalt your food. Plus, it has a unique texture that coats food more evenly!
How to Make Cilantro Lime Crema
Step One Mince the garlic or grate it into a bowl using a Microplane.
Step Two Finely chop the cilantro.
Step Three Place all of the ingredients in a bowl.
Step Four Stir well to combine. Season with salt to taste and stir again.
Step Five Serve!
Microplane (optional - for grating the garlic)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Traditional crema is made with buttermilk and heavy cream. However, you can recreate this taste pretty easily with mayonnaise and sour cream.
You can use a 2 to 1 combination of sour cream and mayonnaise in place of Mexican crema. This will mimic the creamy, tangy flavor, and smooth texture, of traditional crema.
Crema can thicken the longer it sits in the fridge. If you find that your crema has become too thick for your liking, add a splash of lime juice and stir to thin it out.
Variations and Substitutions
Mexican Crema You can use store-bought Mexican crema in place of the sour cream and mayonnaise mixture if you'd like.
Blended If you'd prefer a uniformly smooth texture, you can place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
Spicy You can make this recipe spicy by adding some finely chopped jalapeno pepper.
Avocado Try adding avocado for an extra creamy crema.
Storing Leftover Cilantro Crema
Fridge Store leftover crema in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days.
Freezer I do not recommend freezing this recipe. The texture of the crema won't be the same when it defrosts.
Reheating This dish does not really need to be reheated, but if you'd like, you can let the crema come to room temperature before serving.
- Be sure to combine all of your ingredients thoroughly. The garlic, cilantro, and salt in particular, need to be evenly distributed throughout the sauce. If a wooden spoon isn't cutting it, try using a rubber spatula to cut across the mixture, scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl, and stir.
- For a more even distribution of garlic taste, using a Microplane to grate the garlic, as opposed to mincing the garlic, creates a paste that will more easily integrate into the creamy sauce.
- Sauce taste a little bland? Try adding a pinch of salt and an additional squeeze of lime juice to make it more flavorful.
How to Serve this Cilantro Lime Crema Recipe
This crema is great for any dish that could use a creamy, tangy kick of flavor. Try the suggestions below!
Carne Asada This carne asada recipe is the best I've ever tried. You can grill it up outside, or cook it on a grill pan in the house.
Enchiladas Chicken slow cooker enchiladas will keep the house cool during the summer heat. Try a dollop of this lime crema sauce on top!
Quesadillas are super easy to make. Whether it's a cheese quesadilla or a carne asada quesadilla, it'll benefit from a spoonful of this tangy sauce.
Tacos Fish tacos are a great pairing with cilantro crema!
Salads Try adding a bit of tangy cilantro lime crema to your favorite salad. It's great with tacos salads and simple side salads!
Sandwiches Spread a bit of crema on a sandwich of your choosing. You can swap out the chipotle sauce in this turkey avocado sandwich for crema!
More Sauce Recipes to Try
Cilantro Lime Crema
- Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and salt to a bowl.
- Mix well to combine. Taste for seasoning, add more salt if needed, and serve.
- You can swap the mayonnaise and sour cream for 1.5 cups of Mexican crema.
- For a completely smooth crema, you can add all of the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
- Fridge Store leftover crema in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days.
- Freezer I do not recommend freezing this recipe. The texture of the crema won't be the same when it defrosts.
- Reheating This dish does not really need to be reheated, but if you'd like, you can let the crema come to room temperature before serving.