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Zest up your salads with this bright and flavorful lime vinaigrette! Learn how to make this versatile dressing from scratch in minutes, using simple ingredients you may already have in your kitchen.

Lime vinaigrette
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Every home cook should have a go-to lime vinaigrette, we think. Why? This zingy dressing is ultra versatile, bright and tangy, and made with ingredients you might already have on hand.

Why we love this recipe: This dressing is a pared-back version of our favorite cilantro lime vinaigrette, a dressing that highlights the bite of this fresh herb. But often we don’t have this herb on hand (or are cooking for a cilantro hater!). So this lime vinaigrette is where it’s at: and you can make it in just 5 minutes with 5 ingredients.

Want a few variations? Try cilantro lime dressing or creamy cilantro dressing.

Ingredients in lime vinaigrette

The method for this lime vinaigrette is similar to our easy lemon vinaigrette, inspired by our long-time home cooking inspiration Julia Child. Julia’s dressing called for mashing lemon zest in a mortar and pestle to get a tangy flavor throughout. We’ve simplified the process even further, and adapted it to use lime. Here’s what you’ll need for this lime vinaigrette:

  • 1 lime (both zest and juice)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Olive oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Kosher salt

How to make lime vinaigrette

This lime vinaigrette is quick and easy: just 5 minutes to whisk it up! When I don’t have lots of time or ingredients on hand, this lime or lemon vinaigrette are where I turn. Here are the main steps for this dressing:

Lime vinaigrette step 1: Zest the lime.

Step 1: Zest the lime, then use a knife to chop it very finely with a bit of kosher salt. You can use the knife blade to scrape it and help mash it into a paste. This part should only take a minute or so.

Lime vinaigrette step 2: Whisk the ingredients.

Step 2: Whisk in the lime juice and Dijon mustard. Whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until a creamy emulsion forms.

Lime vinaigrette step 3: Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Step 3: Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving.

Tips for the perfect emulsion

An emulsion is when olive oil and an acid (vinegar or citrus juice) combine into one thickened liquid, instead of separating. How to get a perfect emulsion when you’re whisking?

  • Tip 1: Use a medium sized bowl. Using a very small bowl doesn’t provide enough space for your whisk to move back and forth, which makes it hard to get the liquids to combine. Using a medium sized bowl, you have more room to whisk and it’s easier to whip them together.
  • Tip 2: Whisk in little bits of oil at a time until combined. Make sure each little bit is fully combined in before adding more.

Use a good citrus juicer and zester

Alex and I use citrus all the time in our recipes! Here’s what we’ve found are the best tools for working with citrus:

  • Use a juicer. Alex and I use a juicer to quickly juice citrus and keep the seeds out. Here’s the juicer we use: it works great!
  • For zesting: a microplane or grater. We use a microplane to make quick work of zesting. If you don’t have one, use a grater. Smaller zesters that are more like bar tools don’t work as well here.

Want more lime recipes? Try these 15 zingy lime recipes.

Lime dressing

Ways to serve this lime vinaigrette

We developed this lime vinaigrette as the simplest dressing option for our latest Mexican side salad. But there are lots of ways to use it! Here are our favorites:

Storing leftovers

This lime vinaigrette recipe lasts up to 2 weeks refrigerated. Make sure to bring to room temperature before serving, since olive oil based dressings solidify when cold.

Mexican salad with lime vinaigrette dressing.

Dietary notes

This lime vinaigrette recipe is vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Frequently asked questions

How long does lime vinaigrette last?

Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, lime vinaigrette can last for up to two weeks. Shake well before using, as the ingredients may separate.

Can I use bottled lime juice instead of fresh?

Freshly squeezed lime juice is always recommended for the best flavor and aroma.

What can I use lime vinaigrette on?

Lime vinaigrette is incredibly versatile! It’s delicious on salads, grilled vegetables, fish, chicken, or even as a marinade for tofu.

My vinaigrette is too tart. How can I fix it?

If your vinaigrette is too acidic, you can add a pinch of sugar or a small drizzle of honey to balance the flavors.

My vinaigrette separated. Is it still good?

Yes! Vinaigrettes naturally separate when left to sit. Simply shake or whisk the mixture vigorously before using to recombine the ingredients.

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Lime vinaigrette

Easy Lime Vinaigrette

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: About ½ cup 1x


This lime vinaigrette is so easy to put together: it takes just 5 ingredients and 5 minutes! Its zingy flavor is perfect for salads of any kind.


  • 1 lime: 1 tablespoon lime zest and 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon maple syrup
  • ½ cup olive oil


  1. Zest the lime. Sprinkle it with the kosher salt, then mince it as fine as possible. Holding the blunt edge of the knife, scrape the sharp edge of the blade over the minced lime zest, holding the knife at an angle and mashing the zest into a paste. This should only take a minute or so: don’t spend too long on it!
  2. Place the zest in a medium bowl and it whisk together with the Dijon mustard, lime juice, and maple syrup. Gradually whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time (8 tablespoons total), until creamy and emulsified.
  3. Taste and if desired, season with additional salt (if the dressing tastes too tart, add a pinch of sugar or a bit of honey). Store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks; bring to room temperature before serving. 
  • Category: Dressing
  • Method: Whisked
  • Cuisine: American

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Val Bjarkman says:

    Easy & delicious! Can’t wait to try it with kefer limes. Thank you!

  2. Hope says:

    Easy and delicious! I did use about 4 times the maple syrup as I didn’t think it was sweet enough. Thanks for the great recipe! x

    1. The Watchman says:

      “completely changed your recipe, five stars”.

  3. Carinjo says:

    I had a few limes that needed using and this made a lovely dressing to go with a throw together salad. Was quite a lot, so used some to flash fry basa fish fillets, adding a pinch of chilli flakes and topping with cilantro afterwards. Nice and versatile recipe.