Cilantro Lime Crema Costco Copycat

This Cilantro Lime Crema Costco Copycat recipe is a homemade version of the Don Pancho Cilantro Lime Crema sold with the Costco Chicken Street Tacos kit. Whether getting the sauce from Costco is not convenient or you prefer to make your own, this recipe is for you.

Cilantro Lime Crema Costco Copycat in a white ramekin on a plate with a wooden spoon next to it

I recently posted my Costco Copycat Chicken Street Tacos recipe. This has quickly become one of the most popular posts on my blog, with more visitors each day than my Bailey’s Irish Cream Mini Cheesecakes! I’m so happy others share our love for these tacos. They are one of our favorite dinners, and each time I make them, we all wish I had made more!

overhead shot of Cilantro Lime Crema Costco Copycat on top of Costco Chicken Street Tacos

One of the critical elements for the Chicken Street Tacos is the Cilantro Lime Crema that I purchase from Costco. For two reasons, this is no longer convenient for me.

1. Getting the Costco Cilantro Lime Crema via Instacart is unreliable.

We are not going into stores right now, so we rely on deliveries and store pick ups. My only option for Costco is Instacart delivery. The price markups are outrageous for Costco products, in my opinion. Adding in tip makes any perceived savings of shopping at a warehouse store go out the window. In addition, I have had some issues with receiving the wrong products or being told something is out of stock (and very much may be or the shopper couldn’t locate it in the store).

2. The shelf life of the Don Pancho Cilantro Lime Crema is relatively short.

I received a twin pack of 2 large bottles at the end of April. The expiration date for both was the end of June. That’s only 2 months for a LOT of Crema. I realize some expiration dates are merely suggestions and for most condiments, you can get away with stretching it. Not for these. The crema looked all separated and gross in early July. We ended up having to throw away an entire unopened bottle. I don’t like to waste even under normal circumstances, but when I had to go to so much trouble to get the crema in the first place, this was particularly painful.

The combination of these two factors convinced me I needed to develop my own recipe for Don Pancho Cilantro Lime Crema, and fast. Here is what I came up with by consulting the ingredient label and some personal preferences. If you’re like me and getting this sauce from Costco is not convenient, making your own is the way to go!

Developing the Homemade Crema Recipe

The first step in developing this recipe was to consult the ingredient label on the bottle of Don Pancho Cilantro Lime Crema. Some of the ingredients were expected, like sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, lime. A few were surprising, such as Cojita cheese and pumpkin seeds. There’s also some ingredients that I assume are thickeners and stabilizers.

cilantro lime crema ingredients aerial shot

Because this is a freshly made crema and doesn’t need to be shelf stable, I ditched the stabilizers. I wanted to make sure the ingredients for the Crema were ones that I usually have on hand. The ingredients listed nonfat milk and buttermilk. When a recipe calls for buttermilk, I almost always just do the homemade buttermilk trick and mix white vinegar into milk. Red wine vinegar and milk were already ingredients, so I decided to ditch the buttermilk.

Garlic was also listed as an ingredient. I find when I make a homemade sauce with garlic that isn’t then cooked (like in Homemade Tzatziki for Chicken Gyros), the garlic can be very overpowering. Often leaving the sauce in the fridge can intensify the garlic. To avoid this, I used garlic powder instead of fresh garlic.

I added in some fresh jalapeno, but took out the rib and seeds to avoid making it too spicy. We like to add salsa to our tacos, so the heat comes in there and is not really needed in the crema.

Getting the Right Consistency

The Costco Cilantro Lime Crema is a pretty thin sauce, so I used milk to thin it to the right consistency. This will depend on your preference whether you like the sauce thinner or thicker. The amount of milk required may depend on whether you use regular or light sour cream and mayonnaise. The light versions may be a bit thinner to start and require less milk.

a white ramekin filled with Cilantro Lime Crema Costco Copycat on a plate

Customizing the Recipe

This recipe is completely customizable to your or your family’s taste. You can add a little more (or less) cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno, etc.

Cilantro Lime Crema Costco Copycat on top of Costco Chicken Street Tacos on a plate with limes and cilantro garnish

Preparing the Crema

To make the Crema, I first added the jalapenos to a mini food processor. I pulsed them until they were small. Then I added the rest of the ingredients except for the milk and blended well. At this point, I poured in a little milk at a time then blended until I achieved the consistency I wanted. For a full batch, that was 1 cup of milk. This ended up making a lot of sauce (about 2 1/2 cups), so I cut the recipe in half to be an amount more appropriate for a family dinner.

Crema on top of Costco Chicken Street Tacos

In just minutes, you can have homemade Cilantro Lime Crema perfect for pairing with Chicken Street Tacos or any of your favorite Mexican or Tex-Mex food! The crema makes a great salad dressing as well!

FOODIE TIP: Did you know you may be using your corn tortillas all wrong?! See my guide for how to prepare store bought corn tortillas so they are soft and delicious rather than stiff as cardboard!

LOOKING FOR MORE MEX / TEX MEX DRESSING IDEAS? Try my Panera Chile Lime Ranch Dressing!

Gluten Free Cilantro Lime Crema

Thankfully this recipe is naturally gluten free!

Cilantro Lime Crema Costco Copycat PIN

Looking for Mexican recipes to go with the Cilantro Lime Crema?

Check out these other Mexican / Tex-Mex recipes:
Chicken Street Tacos Costco Copycat
Panera Chile Lime Ranch Dressing
Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad
Turkey Tacos
Mexican Rice
Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls
Chicken Mexican Pizzas
Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chili Sauce
Red Chili Chicken and Rice
Grilled Chicken Fajitas
Skillet Chicken Fajitas
Honey Lime Chicken Fajitas
Pico de Gallo Chicken Quesadillas
Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas

Looking for Dessert to go with it?

Check out these recipes that are the perfect end to a Mexican meal:
Sweet Corn Cake
Tres Leches Coconut Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream
Mexican Chocolate Black Bottom Cupcakes
Easy Homemade Dulce de Leche
Samoa Cupcakes with Easy Dulce de Leche Buttercream
Cinnamon Ice Cream

or see all of my Mexican recipes HERE.

cilantro lime crema costco copycat

Cilantro Lime Crema Costco Copycat

A homemade version of Costco's Don Pancho Cilantro Lime Crema. This sauce is great on top of Chicken Street Tacos.
4.93 from 13 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 1 cup (approx.)


  • 1/2 cup sour cream (regular or light)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup fresh cilantro (adjust to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (regular or light)
  • 1/2 jalapeno (rib and seeds removed and cut into pieces)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk (optional)


  • Pulse jalapeno pieces in a small food processor until chopped into small pieces.
  • Add the remaining ingredients, except for the milk, and blend until smooth. Adding more cilantro will make the sauce greener.
  • If you desire a thinner sauce, add small amounts of milk and blend, until you achieve the desired consistency. Adjust salt depending on your preference.


You’re Gonna Bake It After All
Keyword gluten free, mexican, side dish

20 thoughts on “Cilantro Lime Crema Costco Copycat”

  • 5 stars
    Really easy to make and it taste great. I did it on steak tacos and it was a perfect topping. Will have to try it with the Chicken Street Taco soon too!!

  • 5 stars
    Delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe. My family loves the Costco sauce that comes with their Chicken Street Tacos. (They’d eat it frozen on a stick if I made it!) I tried the Costco recipe which doesn’t come close. As you say in your post, this is very adaptable to your own liking. I made it as written except I added more fresh cilantro. I didn’t add any milk as I liked the consistency without it. I may try buttermilk next time or use Miracle Whip instead of Hellmans for the mayo.

  • 4 stars
    I’d use 1/8c milk and a little more salt to be more like the Costco kind. Also a little food coloring will match the light green of their stuff. Great recipe!

  • 5 stars
    We love this sauce. My 15 yr old daughter found this recipe because she loves the Costco sauce a friend bought for us. We don’t Jane a membership to buy more so she tried your recipe. We like your version better! This is a keeper.

  • 5 stars
    This recipe is perfect! Our Costcos in AZ aren’t carrying the Don Poncho sauce anymore (or it’s very hit or miss… mostly miss!) but I rely on it very heavily for salads. It’s got great macros. Anyway, I’m back on track with my macros with this recipe. Tastes awesome and it’s easy to make.

  • 5 stars
    Great stuff! I love the street tacos from Costco, and decided making them myself was easy, but was missing this key topping. Searched the web and found this and it’s perfect! Even my 7 year old loves it. We never have fresh cilantro, but use dried and it works in a pinch.

  • 5 stars
    First of all, you nailed it with this recipe!! It tastes exactly like the real thing.

    Second, you’re my hero because I loved making salads with this sauce. THANK YOU!!

  • 5 stars
    I love this recipe. Will never buy Cream again. I left out the milk just for consistency and replaced garlic powder with a small clove of fresh garlic, NOT just for Mexican food, think outside the box. I put it on fried chicken cutlet with mozzarella and roasted red pepper on Italian bread. To die for!

  • 5 stars
    This crema is unbelievably good!
    Has anyone figured out how to freeze this? I froze this for 3 weeks and when I defrosted it, tasted very spoiled.

    • Hi there, I don’t have good luck with freezing dairy-based sauces, as they tend to separate during the freeze/thaw process. I’m glad you liked it fresh though!

  • 5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe! We love the Don Pancho from Costco, but it’s never stocked! My family loves it on both steak and chicken street tacos- or anything else! I make it every week and it gets gobbled up. After making a few times, I did add some onion powder to it, otherwise it’s made as per your wonderful recipe. Thank you so much!

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