This easy Homemade Cilantro Chimichurri Recipe is easy to make and so tangy and delicious…you’re going to want to put it on all the things!! Elevate your meals with this versatile sauce that’s loaded with fresh herbs and red wine vinegar for a vibrant and flavorful sauce.
No matter what you’re grilling, it’s going to taste better with this cilantro chimichuuri drizzled on top. Fresh ingredients make all the difference and I love this cilantro version of an authentic chimichurri recipe. The tangy vinegar gives a zippy flavor making this an amazing condiment!
I make extra batches of this flavorful chimichurri sauce when I have all the fresh herbs growing in my garden, then freeze the green sauce in an ice cube tray. It’s a great way to bring a taste of summer into the kitchen all year round.
What is chimichurri?
- Chimichurri is a versatile and flavorful sauce or marinade that originated in Argentina and Uruguay that adds a bright and tangy flavor to any dish.
- The flavorful sauce is often used as a condiment in South America to enhance grilled meats, like flank steak…but there are different ways to enjoy this versatile sauce other than on meat dishes. Cauliflower steak with chimichurri is one of my favorite meals.
- Traditional chimichurri sauce is typically made with finely chopped fresh parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, vinegar, and oil.
- Some variations of this classic sauce include cilantro, lemon juice, or other herbs and spices.
- See my ideas below for variation and other uses for chimichurri.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Fresh Herbs: The key to a good chimichurri sauce is FRESH herbs. I love fresh cilantro, but if you don’t, use a combination fresh parsley and oregano. Use flat leaf Italian parsley for best results. You can use dried oregano in a pinch, but fresh oregano will definitely taste best.
- Acid: I love the combination of red wine vinegar and lime juice for this tangy sauce. If you only have white wine vinegar, use it!
- Shallot: You can substitute finely chopped red onion, or thinly sliced scallions. If you’re worried about the strong raw onion vibe, make this at least 1 hour ahead and let the acid “cook” the onion just a bit.
- Garlic: The fresh garlic is mellowed by the vinegar for just the perfect kick….and I like to use a microplane (or the tiniest holes on the side of a box grater) rather than a garlic press or mincing….for a bit more sub
- Extra virgin olive oil: Use good quality oil…the taste is better in a dish like this.
- Salt + Pepper: If you’re going low-sodium, omit the salt. Taste, add a pinch if desired. I love some spice, so I go heavier on the red pepper flakes.
Did you know?
- Fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro and oregano have many of the same health benefits as leafy greens. They’re loaded with antioxidants, Vitamins, fiber and nutrients.
- Some of the vitamins that are found in fresh herbs are fat soluble (like Vitamin A and Vitamin K)…which means they are absorbable in the presence of fat.
- Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy, monounsaturated fat, known to lower LDL cholesterol, helps make this chimichurri sauce spreadable and delicious, and will boost the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients.
How to make it
You can easily make this Argentinian sauce by hand with a sharp knife and a cutting board. I find chopping meditative, so I choose that route. If you don’t enjoy chopping, use a small chopper or food processor, just be sure to use the “pulse” button so you don’t end up with a pasty mush that resembles pesto.
Separate the leaves from the stems on the fresh herbs and finely chop. Then add to a medium bowl.
Finely dice the shallot and add to the bowl with the chopped herbs.
Use a microplane zester to finely grate the garlic cloves, and zest the lime over the bowl.
Then add the salt and crushed red pepper to the bowl.
Juice the lime over the bowl, then add the olive oil and vinegar. Mix well. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, black pepper or lime juice as desired.
Store leftover chimichurri in an airtight container like a mason jar. Air will reduce the vibrancy of the greens, so pack it in tightly.
Seal in the bright green color by swirling just enough olive oil over any exposed area to cover the sauce.
How to use Chimichurri
- Chimichurri Toast: Oh yeah, it’s a thing…kinda like bruschetta, minus the tomatoes…but I’m going out on a limb here to say that it’s EVEN BETTER….I’m obsessed and when you try it, you will be too!
- Slather onto Black Bean Burgers.
- Drizzle on grilled potatoes: super yummy!
- Chimichurri Pasta: Make your favorite pasta and use this cilantro chimichurri (diluted with just a bit of pasta water) as your sauce.
- Spoon onto whole roasted cauliflower.
- Swirl into your mashed potatoes.
- Drizzle onto grilled asparagus or veggie kabobs.
- Chimichurri Rice: Use brown rice, white rice or cauliflower rice and mix in this tasty chimichurri sauce. Divine. Truly.
How to Store Chimichurri Sauce
- Refrigerator: Store in a mason jar or other airtight container in the fridge for a week. To keep chimichurri a bright green, pour in enough oil to cover herbs completely and place the sealed jar in the fridge.
- Freezer: Spoon into an ice cube tray. Pack it in tightly, pushing down with a spoon and then swirl a light film of olive oil onto the surface. Freeze for at least 8 hours. Transfer to freezer safe zip top bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- For best taste, bring chimichurri sauce to room temperature before serving.
Simple ingredients and next level flavor are the hallmarks of a base recipe. A good chimichurri can be used in so many delicious ways.
- Spicy Chimichurri Recipe: Mince one fresh pepper and add to the chimichurri. Use jalapeno for a mild spice or habanero or fresno chile for more heat. Perhaps my favorite spicy condiment.
- Chimichurri Mayo: Skip the olive oil and mix in ¾ cup of vegan mayo.
- Creamy Chimichurri: Add all ingredients plus an avocado to the food processor and blend until creamy.
- Chimichurri Salad Dressing: Whisk olive oil plus an additional ¼ cup with the lime juice, vinegar and ½ cup water before pouring it into the chopped herb mixture. Taste for seasoning, adding a pinch of salt or lime juice as needed.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Chop by hand for a more varied texture….or save time with a food processor.
- If you do use a food processor, use the “pulse” function to avoid turning this into more of a pesto like paste.
- Completely cover with oil before storing to prevent it from turning brown. If you want to use LESS OIL, pack more chimichurri sauce into less space with a smaller surface size.
- Think outside the box…this is a great sauce to use for grain bowls, pasta, eggs, grilled veggies, potatoes, on pizza or for a tomato-free bruschetta…not just for meat dishes.
- Cilantro is the main ingredient in this great sauce and I’m all here for it…but if you don’t like cilantro, I hear ya…and there’s no problem with using extra parsley…which is a traditional ingredient in classic chimichurri.
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- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup chopped fresh oregano
- 1 large shallot, small dice
- 4 cloves fresh garlic
- 1 lime zested and juiced
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Chop by hand
- Separate fresh herbs from their stems. Finely chop. Add to a medium sized bowl.
- Peel the shallot and chop into small dice and add to the bowl with the chopped herbs.
- Zest the garlic cloves and lime over the bowl. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper.
- Juice the lime over the bowl, then add the vinegar and olive oil. Stir well.
Make in the Food Processor
- Place garlic cloves and roughly chopped shallot into bowl of food processor and pulse a few times.
- Separate herbs from their stems and add to processor. Pulse until finely minced….careful not to over process! The goal is tiny bits of herbs, NOT a pesto like paste.
- Transfer to a medium sized bowl and stir in the lime juice and zest, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper by hand until everything is well incorporated.