easy cafe rio-style salads and creamy cilantro lime ranch dressing

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If you’re lucky enough to live by a Cafe Rio, then I bet you’ve had one of their awesome salads before… and if not, you’ve probably seen a million copycat recipes floating around the internet, because the salads are so good that you just have to try them at home! A few years ago, the CEO of Cafe Rio was one of the leaders in my local church group, and we were lucky enough to be treated to Cafe Rio at pretty much all of our church activities. Let’s just say there was record turnout… 🙂

Anyway, these salads aren’t exactly the same as the Cafe Rio ones, mostly because of the time factor. All of the copycat recipes I’ve found involve a long marinating/cooking method for the chicken, and I was in the mood for a quick and easy dinner. I was surprised (and pleased) that even with using some quick shortcuts, my salad turned out awesome, and tasted almost the same as my beloved Cafe Rio salads.

Since some people are apparently offended by posts with recipes for sandwiches and salads, I’ll just list the things I added to my salad, and as always you can feel free to add what you like and skip what you don’t. That’s what’s fun about a salad like this!

Here’s what we added (in order from bottom to top): a freshly cooked flour tortilla, cilantro-lime rice, pinto beans (just drained and rinsed), chopped romaine lettuce, taco-seasoned chicken (shredded rotisserie chicken with taco seasoning), diced tomatoes, diced avocados, cheese, and crispy tortilla strips. And the best part of all? The dressing!

This is officially my favorite salad dressing (which is surprising, considering all the cilantro!). I love that it’s creamy and flavorful, with a little tanginess from the lime. I also love that it’s so easy to make… just throw everything in the blender and it’s ready in a few minutes! The original instructions say to refrigerate it for at least an hour, but I never do that and it’s still great. This dressing pretty much just makes everything tasty! Try it today!

Cilantro-Lime Ranch Dressing
adapted from Our Best Bites

1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup milk
juice of one lime
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup green salsa
hot sauce (optional)

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Add more milk if needed to reach desired consistency.

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  1. This sounds amazing. I'm girl's camp director and they said Cafe Rio salads… which is a little out of our budget for the real deal. These sound amazing and really easy. thank you!

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