This Cilantro Chimichurri recipe is fresh and tangy with a kick of heat, and it enhances anything it's added to! An amazingly delicious condiment, it's also a fantastic marinade or sauce for steak, fish and chicken.
This Cilantro Chimichurri recipe is super versatile, and I try to always have a jar at the ready for a marinade, sauce or condiment to bring foods to next level deliciousness.
With a handful of simple fresh ingredients, start to finish, you can make it inside of 15 minutes.
What is Chimichurri sauce?
Chimichurri sauce, traditionally made with parsley, is a fresh, spicy, raw Argentinian sauce usually served alongside or over grilled meat. (Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce is very much like the traditional version, only with cilantro in place of the parsley.)
(I often suggest brands I love and use — these are only suggestions and this is not a sponsored post.)
- fresh cilantro - Choose perky, bright green bunches of cilantro without yellow or brown spots.
- garlic cloves - Look for firm heads of garlic without any soft spots or green shoots. Raw garlic cloves should be firm without any dark spots. (Pro tip: if there are green shoots in garlic you already have, just cut the cloves in half and remove them with the tip of a paring knife. The rest of the clove should still be good.)
- red wine vinegar
- fresh lemon juice - I always use Meyer lemons over regular lemons when given the option. Meyer lemons are a touch less tart and a bit sweeter. And with a thinner skin and fewer seeds, they are incredibly juicy.
- sweet paprika - Paprika is a spice made from dried, ground red peppers. It ranges from mild to hot and sweet to smoky. In this cilantro chimichurri, I use sweet paprika. Paprika that's labelled simply "paprika" is most likely sweet paprika.
- ground cumin
- red pepper flakes (crushed red pepper) - This is what gives this chimichurri sauce recipe a zing of heat.
- kosher salt - I cook with Kosher salt. I prefer it because of its larger flake size, it's less refined and usually doesn't contain additives. If you use table salt, use half the amount.
- extra virgin olive oil - I like this one.
(See recipe card below for quantities.)
Substitutions and Variations
- Cilantro. This is Chimichurri without parsley and I assume you're here because you like cilantro. However, if you want to go for a more traditional version, use parsley, or a combination of both. And feel free to play around with other fresh herbs, like basil and mint. A combination of mint, basil and cilantro is excellent! Fresh oregano can be nice too, but I think it's best mixed with parsley or basil for chimimchurri, and the mixture should only be about 30% oregano.
- Red wine vinegar. In this recipe, red wine vinegar can be substituted with a mix of white wine vinegar and red wine (one to one) or apple cider vinegar.
- Lemon juice. You can substitute the lemon juice with lime juice.
- If you don't have a food processor, use a Chef's knife to chop the cilantro and garlic as finely as possible, then mix in the remaining ingredients as directed. This will take more time and likely be a bit less smooth, but it will be equally as tasty.
- Don't worry about removing the thinner cilantro stems -- they're soft and will blend evenly with the leaves.
- The large quantity of cilantro this recipe calls for might not all fit into your food processor at once. I usually blend about half, then add the second half, and blend again. When you blend it, it will shrink considerably.
- If you'd like a spicier version, add more of the crushed red pepper to taste.
How to Make it
- Remove any thick stems from the cilantro, and add the rest to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend until it's very finely chopped.
- Add the garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper and salt and blend until you can hardly see the garlic. With the food processor running, gradually pour in the oil and blend until smooth.
Uses for Chimichurri
The possibilities here are practically infinite.
- In terms of proteins, I use cilantro chimichurri as a sauce on everything from grilled meats and chicken, to salmon and shrimp. In fact, Baked Chimmichurri Salmon is one of my favorite salmon recipes.
- I especially love it for marinating chicken. (About an hour is all it needs.)
- Cilantro Chimichurri also makes for an excellent salad dressing. It's great on this type of salad.
- I think my all time favorite way to use it is as a dipping sauce for French fries. Really, it's amazing with almost any potato dish, particularly those that are crispy.
Recipes with Cilantro Chimichurri
How long does Chimichurri last?
- Fortunately, you can make a lot at once, because chimichurri will last for about 10 days in the refrigerator.
- It should be kept in an airtight container. I prefer to use a jar, and I place a piece of plastic wrap beneath the lid, pressing directly on top of the sauce.
- The oil in the recipe with congeal a bit in the refrigerator. Just let it sit at room temp for about an hour before using it, or you can microwave it for a few seconds.
Can you Freeze Chimichurri?
Yes, you can freeze chimichurri in an airtight container for up to 3 months. For freezing, I suggest using small freezer bags with about ½ cup of cilantro chimichurri each. This way, you'll be able to thaw only as much as you need.
To thaw it, place it in the refrigerator the day before you want to use it, or it can be left at room temperature for about 24 hours.
I hope you love it!
Cilantro Chimichurri Recipe
- 4 cups packed cilantro (about 4 large bunches), washed and dried
- 6 medium-sized garlic cloves (about 3 tablespoons), peeled, with roots and stems removed
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Prepare the cilantro. Remove any thick stems from the cilantro, and add the rest to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend until it's very finely chopped.
- Blend everything but the oil. Add the garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper and salt and blend until you can hardly see the garlic.
- Add oil and finish. With the food processor running, gradually pour in the oil and blend until smooth.