Cilantro Garlic Sauce – Pollo Tropical Copycat


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You need to try this 6-ingredient and 5-minute Pollo Tropical copycat cilantro garlic sauce! It’s creamy, packed with flavor, so delicious, and is so incredibly easy to make.

Cilantro Garlic Sauce

One thing I’ve been missing lately is the Pollo Tropical Cilantro Garlic Sauce. Seriously, that stuff is AMAZING. Like I would eat there just to get some of the sauce.

I decided to try making a copycat Pollo Tropical sauce, and I’m so happy with the way it turned out.

I haven’t eaten there in a while, so I can’t be 100% sure this copycat is perfect. So, I’ll just say that it’s inspired by their sauce.

Either way, it’s seriously SO good and is definitely worth making.

I even had to get up and make another batch of it while writing this post after looking at the pictures and remembering how tasty it was.

The cilantro really balances out the flavors in this creamy garlic sauce perfectly.

The raw garlic and fresh lime juice wake up your mouth, the cilantro packs flavor, the salt seasons, and creamy sour cream and mayonnaise make the perfect base.

An overhead image of cilantro garlic sauce in a small bowl.

A Cilantro Sauce For People Who Don’t Like Cilantro

So, here’s the thing, Shane doesn’t like cilantro, liked at all. He’ll even ask me why I ruined a dinner by adding cilantro to it.

He’s not one of the people that thinks cilantro tastes like soap, but it’s far from his favorite flavor. But…

He LOVES this sauce.

Like really really really loves it. He calls it his “go-to sauce”, and even says “the more cilantro the better”.

Here’s what he thought about eating it with homemade restaurant style salsa and tortilla chips: “Those two sauces…like…WOW…they need to be together…those two worlds combine together and make perfect stuff.”

So, there you have it. If you love cilantro but the other person you’ll be eating with doesn’t, this may be the perfect sauce for you!

How to Make Pollo Tropical Cilantro Garlic Sauce

The steps couldn’t be any easier! Simply pulse the ingredients in a food processor until it’s smooth and creamy (but stop before the cilantro is fully blended).

A process collage showing cilantro garlic sauce before and after blending.

Optional Adaptations

I love this recipe as it’s written, but there are a few changes you can make if you like.

Omit the mayonnaise. You replace the mayonnaise with sour cream and add in a couple of Tablespoons of olive oil if you prefer.

Add extra lime juice. If you love really citrus infused flavors, feel free to add some more!

Use seasoned salt. I prefer it with regular sea salt, but feel free to play around with this! Just be careful with the amount – this recipe can get too salty really quickly.

Add extra cilantro. Shane’s not the biggest cilantro fan in the world, so I don’t normally add extra cilantro. That being said, if you love cilantro, you’ll probably love adding more to this sauce.

Adjust the garlic. I prefer 3 medium cloves, but noticed that 3 cloves was too spicy at about the 12 hour mark.

3 medium cloves of garlic was perfect for me when it was freshly blended, and after 24 hours though. If you’re making this in the morning and planning to serve it with dinner, I’d recommend only using 2 cloves of garlic.

I’d also recommend only using 2 garlic cloves if you use all sour cream and don’t use the mayonnaise.

Swap the sour cream for Greek yogurt. I haven’t tried this, but I think full fat Greek yogurt would work well in this recipe.

Use up your cilantro stems. Did you know that the tender stems of the cilantro are as flavorful as the leaves? Since this is a blended sauce, it’s a great way to use up all of your fresh herbs. Just be sure to throw away the tougher parts of the stem past the leaves.

Use roasted garlic. If you don’t like the bite and spice that comes with raw garlic, you can always try using roasted garlic.

A side image of garlic sauce in a bowl.

What To Serve It With

My favorite thing to serve this with is grilled chicken. But it honestly tastes amazing on any chicken recipe or any taco recipe. Also, this sauce makes a truly incredible salad dressing!

Some other delicious things to serve it with are:

It’s also great as a dipping sauce for veggies (especially red bell peppers).

Cilantro garlic sauce in a bowl surrounded by lime, garlic, and cilantro.

How To Store It

Dairy-based dips should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Assuming they’re stored this way, they should keep for 3 to 4 days.

Can You Freeze It

No. Since this is a dairy-based sauce it won’t freeze will. After thawing the texture would be unappealing.

Is It Gluten Free?

Yes, this recipe is naturally gluten free as it’s written.

Is It Keto?

Yes. Assuming you don’t eat tons of this sauce, it can be a great addition to your keto or low-carb meal.

How To Make It Vegan

To make it vegan, you’ll need to swap the mayonnaise for plant based mayonnaise (the Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise is my favorite). You’ll also need to replace the sour cream with vegan sour cream (or with a homemade cashew cream).

Sauce Recipes

If you love easy homemade sauces, be sure to check out our sauce recipes category! You may also be interested in our copycat recipes category.

Some reader favorites are:

Yield: Approximately 2 Cups

Cilantro Garlic Sauce - Pollo Tropical Copcyat

Cilantro garlic sauce in a small clear bowl on a wood background.

You need to try this 6-ingredient and 5-minute Pollo Tropical copycat cilantro lime sauce! It’s creamy, packed with flavor, so delicious, and is so incredibly easy to make.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1 cup full fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems (lightly packed)
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (the juice of about 1 lime)
  • 2 - 3 medium garlic cloves (crushed with a garlic press, amount depending on when you plan to eat it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (plus more to taste)


  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor, and pulse until the sauce is combined. Stop pulsing while there are still visible bits of cilantro (this sauce tastes better this way than it does fully blended).


I’d recommend using real mayonnaise in this recipe. I don’t think using Miracle Whip would taste right (it would be too sweet).

One thing I noticed about the garlic was that 3 medium cloves was perfect for me when I ate it fresh, and after 24 hours. However, at about the 12 hour mark the garlic tasted too pungent. So, if you’re making this ahead in the morning for dinner, I’d recommend using only 2 cloves.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 39Total Fat: 4gCarbohydrates: 0.6gNet Carbohydrates: 0.6gFiber: 0gSugar: 0.3gProtein: 0.2g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


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A Pinterest pin image with two pictures of cilantro garlic sauce with title text in the middle.

Try making the BEST copycat Pollo Tropical cilantro garlic sauce at home!

Cilantro garlic sauce in a small clear bowl on a wood background.

18 thoughts on “Cilantro Garlic Sauce – Pollo Tropical Copycat”

  1. I tried making this with parsley because it’s all I had on hand, and it was sooo good! I can’t wait to try it with cilantro the next time I go to the store. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

    • Hi Ann, So happy to hear you liked the cilantro garlic sauce! And thanks so much for the feedback about how it turned out with parsley – glad to hear it was still a hit! -Alexa

  2. I used to work at a Pollo Tropical years ago and regularly made the Cilantro Garlic sauce. The actual restaurant recipe does not use sour cream. It’s just mayo, cilantro, garlic, and lime juice. Of course since I made it in bulk for restaurant use (were talking gallons at a time) I can’t give you the measurements for just a small home serving.

    • That’s what I just figured out after making this and tasting it! I said I would make again without the sour cream. It doesn’t taste bad, I just like the Pollo version exactly how it is. Thanks for confirming the specific ingredients! Also, like the author said, I think it would taste better pulsed, not completely blended. I didn’t have a food processor so I just used by bullet blender but it fully blended it. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • Thank you for this. I made it tonight and it’s wonderful. I don’t have a food processor, so I just vigorously mixed it. There are larger chunks of cilantro, but we don’t mind that one bit!

  3. Does pollo tropical have a sauce bar? Well, Pollo Tropical has a sauce bar with all sorts of delicious goodies like Curry Mustard Sauce, Chimichurri Sauce, and Cilantro Garlic Sauce.

  4. Thank you for sharing. This recipe looks good. Yes, I’m trying to find some Pollo Tropical recipes because the ones close to us in Houston, Texas, have closed. But, I sure do wish someone would find all Pollo Tropical recipes and sell them in a booklet. I’d pay for it. Honestly, it takes long time to go out and find all of them.

  5. You are my hero. The Pollo here is being run veryyy poorly. You sit in a non-escapable line for 30 minutes, get to window, they’re either out of chicken or this cilantro garlic sauce. I forego ordering if no sauce. I made this today! Expensive to get all of the ingredients but so worth it. I froze the extra cilantro and lime.

  6. Just made it after scrolling through the comments and did it without the sour cream. I just cut the recipe in half for a smaller portion. Tastes better than Pollo Tropical, hate to say!!!! Haha
    I find out where we live it’s watered down more for some reason than it is from growing up in Miami. Do you have the recipe for the yellow sauce? Thanks.

    • Hi Deborah, So happy to hear you like the Pollo Tropical Cilantro Garlic Sauce so much! I don’t have a recipe for the yellow sauce, sorry! -Alexa

      • I have an elderly mom who doesn’t get around like she used to. Fortunately, my brothers and I all live close by. One of her favorite quick dinners is Pollo Tropical Tropichops or KFCs spicy wings. But DONT DARE pick up either without the cilantro sauce or buffalo sauce, respectively. Due to supply chain issues but mostly poor management, both places are routinely out of sauce. So, I just googled ‘Pollo Tropical cilantro sauce’ and found this. I am going to make it today and drop it off tonight to mom….with the Tropichop dinner that I bought last night and had to stick in the fridge until I found this recipe. Based on all the above, I am going to go extra light on sour cream and use 3 garlic cloves as she loves garlic. I will not mention to her that it is actually not the restaurant’s sauce. I will report back.

  7. Hi! Just a little comment here. The recipe is just lime juice, mayo, cilantro, pepper and salt. We don’t use sour cream at Pollo! 😉

    • Cristian,
      If you could please give the ratios of the ingredients, it would be greatly appreciated. I’m sure you make it in bulk, but even using those measurements, I could break it down into smaller volumes for personal use.
      I love the sauce but, unfortunately the Pollo Tropical restaurant in my area has also gone down in quality and typically does not have it or other menu items available.
      Thank you in advance for your help.

  8. I like the sour cream and mayo combo. It adds a lightness to the sauce that makes it more versatile. I’m using the leftover for a salad dressing on leftover steak in a salad. Thank you!!


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