This chilli lime dressing is a zesty, flavour-packed sauce to elevate your favourite salads. The spicy vinaigrette is perfect for a quick and easy salad dressing.
Best of all? The easy salad dressing recipe requires no chopping.
All you need is mild olive oil, lime, chilli garlic sauce (or hot sauce), sugar, salt and black pepper. The combination of sweet, tart, and spicy ingredients creates a flavoursome vinaigrette fit for any occasion.
The simple dressing makes a great base for other sauces. And you can also adjust the heat level to suit your taste.
Why you’ll love this salad dressing
This chilli lime dressing is a great way to add a zesty, spicy kick to your salads. But there are more reasons why you’ll love it:
- It’s versatile: Use this chilli lime dressing as a vinaigrette for salads and grilled vegetable sides, or to marinate proteins, like chicken breasts.
- It’s super easy to make: This easy vinaigrette recipe requires no chopping and only a few ingredients, yet it has a deliciously complex flavour.
- It’s suitable for a range of dietary requirements: The chilli lime dressing is naturally vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free. It can easily be made into a low-carb or keto dressing by swapping the sugar for your favourite sweetener.
Ingredients and substitutes
Not only is the spicy lime dressing utterly delicious, but it’s also a flexible recipe you can customise to your heart’s content.
Here are the essential ingredients and suitable substitutes:
- Mild olive oil: I use a mild-flavoured extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) for this dressing. If your EVOO is very strong, consider another neutral oil instead, like avocado oil.
- Lime: Fresh lime juice, along with the zest from one lime, adds a gorgeous citrus flavour. But you can also use lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar for acidity.
- Chilli garlic sauce: I use a store-bought chilli sauce for ease. You can also use finely diced fresh red chillies, red pepper flakes, or chile powder. And, while I chose the infamous Chinese chilli garlic sauce for this chilli lime vinaigrette recipe, sriracha also works great. If you use sambal oelek, just add a finely minced garlic clove or half a teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Sugar: A touch of sweetness mellows the acidity of the lime and spiciness of the chilli sauce. I use white sugar, but you can use any sweetener. Try maple syrup or honey for a refined sugar-free dressing.
- Salt: I use sea salt, but you can also use kosher salt.
- Black pepper: Freshly ground black pepper adds a subtle earthy spice that balances out the sweet and sour, spicy dressing.
This spicy lime vinaigrette is the perfect way to add a zippy zing to your salads. It’s perfectly balanced with loads of flavour, so you really don’t need to add anything.
But, I like to make a large batch for meal prep on a Sunday. Then I customise the homemade salad dressing throughout the week for maximum flavour and minimal effort.
Here are some variations to try:
- Spicy cilantro lime dressing: Add a handful of freshly chopped cilantro to the chilli lime salad dressing. The fresh cilantro adds a herby flavour boost. You can blitz this one in a food processor or blender for a smooth and vibrant green dressing.
- Creamy chilli lime dressing: Add a tablespoon of sour cream for a creamy texture without losing the tartness of the dressing.
- Mild and smoky lime dressing: For a milder salad dressing, use only a teaspoon of chilli sauce and add a teaspoon of smoked paprika for a deep red, smoky dressing that’s not as spicy.
- Thai lime dressing: Swap the chilli garlic sauce for Thai chilli paste and add a teaspoon of fish sauce for a delicious Thai flavour. This version is great in a simple slaw topped with cashew nuts.
How to make chilli lime dressing
Chilli lime dressing is a classic, zesty condiment that takes only a minute to make.
Step 1: Add the olive oil, lime juice and zest, chilli garlic sauce, sugar and salt to a small bowl. Whisk together until combined.
Or put the ingredients in a clean mason jar, screw the lid on tightly, and shake well. You can use any jar that has a tight-fitting lid.
Step 2: Taste and add more chilli sauce if you want it spicier. Then, taste again and adjust the salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Storage: Store the chilli lime dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week and give it a good shake before using.
Spicy lime dressing serving suggestions
This vibrant, zesty chilli lime vinaigrette is perfect for drizzling over salads and roasted vegetables.
Salads: This dressing is great with simple green salads. But it’s also a great dressing for a Mexican-style fresh corn salad with black beans and diced red pepper. Or simply slice a few heirloom tomatoes and gently toss with the spicy vinaigrette for a delicious tomato salad.
Grain Bowls: This chilli lime dressing adds a zesty kick to grain bowls. Try it with this quinoa, kale, chickpea and avocado bowl, or a farro and roasted veggie bowl.
Roasted Vegetables: Drizzle this chilli lime dressing over roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, or hot honey Brussels sprouts. The dressing adds a bright flavour and helps to bring out the sweetness of the roasted vegetables.
Burrito bowls: Start with a bowl of cooked brown rice or quinoa. Top it with black beans, roasted veg, and avocado slices. Add a dollop of Greek yoghurt and drizzle generously with chilli lime salad dressing.
Make a big batch of this chilli lime dressing to spice up meals throughout the week. Remember to whisk or shake it before using.
Frequently asked questions
Chilli lime dressing is a zesty vinaigrette that combines the spicy kick of chillies with the bright citrusy notes of lime. It’s a perfect balance of heat and tartness, making it a popular choice for salads, marinades, and even drizzling over grilled meats or vegetables.
A lime dressing has freshly squeezed lime juice as its main ingredient. Further ingredients include olive oil, sweeteners like honey or sugar, and salt. And sometimes, fresh herbs, garlic, or chillies can add even more flavour.
A vinaigrette is a type of dressing or sauce made by emulsifying vinegar with oil (mixed until well combined), often in a 1:3 ratio. Various seasonings, like salt, pepper, herbs, and sweeteners, add different flavours.
- Microplane – to zest the lime (optional)
- 4 tablespoons mild olive oil , or another neutral oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice , freshly squeezed from 1 juicy lime
- 1 teaspoon lime zest , from the 1 lime (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chilli garlic sauce *
- 1½ teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- black pepper , to taste
- Place the olive oil, lime juice and zest, chilli garlic sauce, sugar and salt in a small bowl with a generous grind of black pepper. Whisk until well combined. Or put the ingredients in a clean mason jar, screw the lid on tightly, and shake well.
- Taste and add more chilli sauce if you want it spicier. Then, taste again and adjust the salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Store the chilli lime dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- If your olive oil has a very pungent bitter taste, use a mild vegetable oil instead. Avocado oil is a great alternative.
- I use a ready-made chilli sauce for ease, but you can also use finely diced fresh red chillies or chilli powder. And, while I chose the infamous Chinese chilli garlic sauce for this recipe, other hot sauces like sriracha or sambal oelek also work great.
- See ingredients and substitutes for more substitutes, or try one of the variations.
- Refrigerate leftover dressing in an airtight container for up to one week and give it a good shake to emulsify before using.