Easy Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce - spoon this flavourful, fresh and herby sauce over your grilled meat and vegetables. This sauce goes particularly well with steak, pork and chicken and can be put together pretty quickly. It is also bound to bring your roasted vegetables to the next level. Super flavourful! This easy recipe takes just 5 minutes to prepare.
What is Chimichurri made of? Chimichurri is a green sauce that leans towards being more of a vinaigrette, that has its origins in Argentina and Uruguay. Chimichurri uses parsley, red wine vinegar, garlic, fresh oregano, olive oil, onion, chilli and salt as a base.
Why is it called Chimichurri? It is claimed that Chimichurri involves corruption of English words. The claim goes that an English cattle merchant with the name Jim, who asked his Argentinian hosts for some curry sauce. Jim asked for curry which gave rise to the name, give me curry or Jimmy’s curry. With time, Jim’s sauce became Chimichurri. There is, however, no documentation to support these claims.
Chimichurri has since evolved to include several variations, such as the Cilantro Chimichurri which is covered in this recipe blog post. Red chimichurri uses sweet smoked paprika and chile. Chimichurri is so versatile, which is one of the reasons behind its growing popularity.
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Wondering how to use this cilantro chimichurri?
- Chimichurri particularly works well with grilled meats: Drizzle it over your grilled steak, fish, chicken, meat or chorizo sausage and allow to rest for some minutes.
- Use it for basting: Brush or spoon some sauce during the grilling process.
- Sandwich: spread some on the surface of two pieces of bread. You can also use a sandwich roll by spoon some of the sauce in between the roll. Place some grilled sandwich meat or vegetables on the bread slices then spoon some more sauce on top. Top with some mayonnaise (optional) then cut the sandwich into halves or quarters.
- Drizzle it over grilled vegetables to give them a garlicky and herby taste. Totally delicious!
- Spoon it over grilled potatoes. Alternatively, you can pour some of the sauce over the potatoes before grilling to give them a delicious, garlic and herb-like taste.
TIP: You can use your Chimichurri sauce immediately after making it but letting it stand for an hour or so always intensifies the flavour.
Before I forget, you will realise that the recipe uses simple, healthy ingredients making it a great option for Keto, low carb, paleo and whole 30. Finding compliant sauces for Keto is not normally easy. This sauce has only 0.5g net carbs per serving making it a wonderful low carb or keto sauce.
Here is a summary of what you will need. You will find the full ingredient list together with measurements on the recipe card below.
- Fresh cilantro or coriander
- Some fresh parsley
- Olive oil extra virgin
- Lemon juice
- Chopped scallions or red onion
- Some red wine vinegar
- Oregano - fresh (preferred) or dried
- Cloves of garlic peeled
- Coarse-grained salt
- Red chilli flakes or some Fresno chilli
- Some black pepper
The authentic recipe uses a pestle and mortar. This cilantro chimichurri recipe, however, shows you the much easier method which uses a food processor or a blender. Feel free to use whichever method you prefer.
Blender or food processor method: Add cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, scallions or red onion, garlic, chilli, oregano, salt and pepper to a blender or food processor. Pulse in short 1-2 second increments, scraping the sides using a spatula until smooth.
Once smooth, slowly add the vinegar and adjust the quantity to taste. You can also adjust the amount of salt at this point.
Pestle and mortar method: Finely chop cilantro, parsley, oregano, onion or scallions and garlic then add them to the mortar. Next add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and use the pestle to grind until you get a smooth sauce.
Refrigeration and Freezing options
This sauce can most certainly be made ahead. Since Chimichurri has fresh herbs as part of its ingredients, you should store it in the fridge. It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
If you want to freeze the cilantro chimichurri, simply use an ice cube tray. Using a teaspoon, scoop about just enough of the sauce to fit each hole of your icecube tray. I prefer using silicone trays as it allows me to easily get the sauce out once I am ready to use it. To use, transfer the desired amount of sauce to a bowl and leave on the kitchen surface to thaw.
Difference with pesto: pesto recipes normally call for the use of nuts such as walnuts or pine nuts. In terms of herbs, pesto uses basil as the main herb. On the other hand, Chimichurri has a zingy taste as opposed to being nutty, since it uses vinegar.
Actual taste: chimichurri has a fresh herby, garlicky, tangy taste, a bit like a vinaigrette with a kick. The herby flavour comes from the use of parsley and oregano while the chilli gives the sauce its kick. It is, however, not too spicy. The garlic gives the sauce a slightly pungent flavour, without being too overbearing.
Bitter taste? Parsley is an ingredient in making chimichurri. Using parsley from an old plant or using too much parsley will result in bitter Chimichurri. As the plant grows old, the stems become tougher and the leaves turn darker and more bitter. It is therefore always advisable to use young and fresh parsley leaves and stems. Too much oregano and garlic can also turn your Chimichurri sauce bitter.
Do you use cilantro and parsley stems? Yes indeed. Feel free to use both the stems and the leaves. They carry with them so much flavour, it would be a waste to throw them away. Also means less work, as you don’t have to pick out or separate the leaves from the stems. Only thing is, make sure you are using fresh parsley and cilantro.
Want to make your sauce less bitter? You can reduce the bitter taste of your Chimichurri by adding a bit of sweetness (about a teaspoon of Swerve or more for Keto and low carb) and honey or coconut sugar for paleo. You can also try to use a bit more of the other ingredients, such as garlic and chilli to make them stand out more.
Easy Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce
- Blender or a food processor
- 1 cup cilantro both leaves and stems
- 1 cup small parsley sprigs both leaves and stems
- ¼ cup fresh shallots alternatively, chopped red onion
- 1 cup olive oil extra virgin
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon oregano (fresh or dry)
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 tablespoon salt or more preferrably coarse, kosher
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Fresno pepper
- Add the parsley, oregano, garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, black pepper, scallion, Fresno pepper red wine vinegar and salt in a blender and blend at a low speed to a puree that is slightly coarse in texture.
- Next, slowly add the olive oil in a thin steady stream. You can add some more olive oil if you prefer . You can also adjust the amount of saltand pepper at this point.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for later!