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Cilantro mayo with plenty of lime and garlic makes an incredible topping for tacos, burgers, and sandwiches. Ready in five minutes.

cilantro mayo in a bowl with a spoon
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Why we love this recipe

Cilantro mayo is a savory, tangy flavor-fest that can help enliven a surprising variety of meals. I first started serving it as a sauce for burgers circa 2010, and it’s since made its way into our garlic shrimp tacos as well as my favorite taco slaw, among many other dishes. It’s:

  • Bursting with bright cilantro, fresh garlic, and citrus flavors
  • A great, flexible consistency that works as a spread or a sauce
  • Make-ahead friendly
  • Perfect as-is, but also easy to customize

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • You can use a good-quality supermarket mayo, an easy homemade version, or my favorite, extra-savory option: Kewpie mayo. This Japanese brand is creamier, tangier, and more umami-fied than its American counterpart.
  • A combination of lime juice and lemon juice really rounds out the tangy flavor profile, while thinning out the sauce to a nice, flexible consistency that drizzles, tosses into slaws, and spreads on sandwiches. A little bit of lime zest takes things to the next level.
  • The recipe calls for a generous but not overwhelming amount of cilantro. That said, some varieties have a fairly aggressive flavor while others are positively mellow, so taste yours before using and adjust as necessary.
tangy cabbage slaw for tacos in a bowl
Tangy cabbage slaw for tacos

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a great batch of cilantro mayo. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Start with good-quality mayo (see the ingredients section above for more info). For a sauce with a little bit of texture, start by adding the mayo to a mixing bowl. If you’d like a smooth, green-hued sauce, you can do your mixing in a blender or food processor.
  2. Finely mince the garlic and cilantro and add to the bowl along with the lime and lemon juices, zest, salt, and pepper.
  3. Mix or blend well, until the ingredients are well-distributed and the consistency is nice and creamy.
  4. If possible, let it rest in the fridge for an hour or so before serving, so the flavors have a chance to mingle. That’s it!
Garlic Shrimp Tacos | Umami Girl
Garlic shrimp tacos with cilantro mayo

Expert tips and FAQs

If I’m making homemade mayo, can I do it all in one step?

If you’re starting from scratch with immersion blender or food processor mayo, it’s still best to mix in the additional ingredients in a second step. Mayo-making is a bit finicky, and it’s important to get the initial emulsion just right.

For the version you see here, you can mix in the minced garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and zest by hand after making the mayo. Don’t double up on the lemon juice, salt, or pepper — there’s plenty in the mayo.

For a blended version of cilantro mayo, add the additional ingredients to the food processor or blender jar after you make the mayo.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

You sure can. I recommend making cilantro mayo at least an hour in advance to give the flavors a chance to commune. It keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.

More favorite sauces

cilantro mayo in a bowl with a spoon

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cilantro mayo in a bowl with a spoon
5 from 2 votes

Cilantro Mayo

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Cilantro mayo with plenty of lime and garlic makes an incredible topping for tacos, burgers, and sandwiches. Ready in five minutes.
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cup
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Ingredients 

  • 1 cup (240 grams) mayo
  • ½ cup 1 ounce/(30 grams) finely chopped cilantro (leaves and fine stems)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lime, grated on a rasp
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • Place all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine well.

Notes

  1. You can use a good-quality supermarket mayo, an easy homemade version, or my favorite, extra-savory option: Kewpie mayo. This Japanese brand is creamier, tangier, and more umami-fied than its American counterpart.
  2. The recipe calls for a generous but not overwhelming amount of cilantro. That said, some varieties have a fairly aggressive flavor while others are positively mellow, so taste yours before using and adjust as necessary.
  3. I prefer this sauce with a little bit of texture, but if you'd like to make it perfectly smooth, you can whiz it up in a blender or food processor rather than just stirring together.
  4. If you're starting from scratch with immersion blender or food processor mayo, it's still best to mix in the additional ingredients in a second step. Mayo-making is a bit finicky, and it's important to get the initial emulsion just right. For the version you see here, you can mix in the minced garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and zest by hand after making the mayo. Don't double up on the lemon juice, salt, or pepper — there's plenty in the mayo.  For a blended version of cilantro mayo, add the additional ingredients to the food processor or blender jar after you make the mayo.
  5. I recommend making cilantro mayo at least an hour in advance to give the flavors a chance to commune. It keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 97kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 220mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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