This spicy cilantro chimichurri sauce is the perfect addition to your next grilled meal! Made with fresh herbs, jalapeño, garlic, and lemon juice, this sauce is full of flavor and has just the right amount of heat. Use it as a marinade, dipping sauce, or even on your tacos!
Chimichurri sauce is a condiment made from chopped herbs that is served frequently at Argentinean tables. As with so many dishes, it’s hard to say where this simple sauce actually originated. Even the name chimichurri is of unknown origin, but it is believed to be a corruption of the Basque word tximitxurri, which means a mixture of things.
An authentic chimichurri recipe is made with fresh parsley, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. This is a delicious variation from the original parsley chimichuri sauce, so let’s give a nod to the person who invented it — even if we don’t know who that was — and try this cilantro chimichurri recipe variation! It requires just a few simple ingredients and comes together in a snap and it’s one of my favorite sauces.
Cilantro: Yes, this is the key ingredient in this recipe and possibly the most controversial herb in the world. Some people have a gene that makes cilantro taste like soap in their mouths. Those people should use parsley instead of cilantro. The cilantro version is delicious for the rest of us!
Oregano: The pungent flavor of this green herb helps to balance the flavor. Head out to the herb garden for some fresh leaves, or opt for dried.
Aromatics: This recipe uses both garlic and red onions. Fresh garlic cloves add that spicy zing we all love so much. Opting for red onion adds a little sweetness, but if you only have a yellow onion, that will work just fine.
Jalapeño pepper: Here’s where the heat comes in. Finely dice the jalapeño pepper to add some kick to the dip. Don’t like the heat? Skip this ingredient!
Balsamic vinegar: Traditional balsamic vinegar hails from the town of Modena in Italy. The process of making it is complex but nets a mild and sweet flavor. Red wine vinegar is a suitable substitute, though the resulting sauce will be a bit tangier.
Olive oil: Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil as the flavor of the oil will shine through.
Lemon juice: Adding lemon juice provides a little tang to the sauce. Feel free to substitute lime juice.
Making this Versatile Sauce
This yummy green sauce is the perfect way to add some zest to your next meal. It uses fresh ingredients like oregano, fresh cilantro, garlic, and a variety of spices, this sauce is sure to please. Simply combine all of the ingredients in a blender or the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well-chopped. Could it get any easier??
Delicious Ways to Use it
No matter how you enjoy it, this spicy cilantro chimichurri sauce is sure to be a hit!
- Chimichurri sauce is traditionally served as a dipping sauce for grilled steak or chicken, and this recipe works for serving with meat dishes, too.
- Use it as a marinade before cooking meat.
- Stir some into your favorite salad dressing recipe.
- Drizzle some into tacos.
- Toss some with pasta.
- It’s a great way to spice up scrambled eggs.
- Spread some in a grilled cheese sandwich.
- Serve it with these delicious polenta fries.
Storing the Sauce
To store leftover sauce, place it in an airtight container (a mason jar works well) and refrigerate for up to a week.
Bitterness in the sauce can be caused by over-processing once the oil is added. That’s why you’ll process the herbs first, and add the oil at the end, pulsing until just combined.
Yes, absolutely. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container for a week. It will likely be fine for 2-3 weeks, but I like to try to use it up within that first week. It’s so delicious, though, trust me, this will not be a hardship.
Yes. Freeze it much like you would pesto, by pouring the sauce into an ice cube tray. Thaw as much as you need to serve with grilled meats or use a cube to add flavor to soup.
- 1-1/2 cups fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1/2 small red onion
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 2-3 jalapeño peppers
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Wash and dry cilantro and fresh oregano, if using. Remove leaves from large stems.
- Combine cilantro, oregano, onion, garlic, jalapeños, red pepper flakes, vinegar, and salt in the bowl a food processor or the carafe of a blender. Pulse, stopping and scraping down sides occasionally until finely minced.
- Pour in olive oil and add lemon juice while pulsing several times until herb leaves are finely minced.
- Transfer to serving bowl.
- Refrigerate leftover chimichurri sauce for up to a week.
This recipe calls for both jalapeño peppers and red chili flakes. It will make a quite spicy chimichurri sauce. If you prefer your food less fiery, feel free to reduce the amounts of both of these to suit your tastebuds. You can easily add in the red pepper flakes a little at a time to achieve the heat you like.