My easy cilantro chimichurri sauce recipe is made with extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, tangy vinegar, and is one of my favorite recipes! It's a fresh sauce that's perfect over steak, dipping bread into, serving with vegetables, or using as a wonderful marinade for your proteins this grilling season.
My mama used to buy chimichurri from the store when I was a teen and serve it with crusty bread when we had guests over.
When I got married, our very first guests in our tiny apartment in San Antonio were our friend J.D. and his first wife...so imagine my panic as my 19 year old self could not find a single jar of this condiment at my local grocery store!
So although I had never made chimichurri, I decided to wing it. I used all the herbs I could find, doused them in olive oil, added red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon...and that herb sauce was actually pretty delicious! A perfect dip for my second attempt at homemade focaccia bread.
Of course this recipe isn't anything like it. This is the cilantro version of the original Argentinian sauce: a flavorful, simple sauce that is like my 'frank's red hot' I put this stuff on everything, especially during this time of the year! I love this sauce that much.
Cilantro chimichurri is the perfect sauce for the summer months, it is fantastic on grilled meats and veggies or as a flavorful dip for seafood boils. When you give this recipe a try, you're going to be just as obsessed with homemade chimichurri as I am!
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- Origins of Chimichurri Sauce
- What is Chimichurri Sauce Made of?
- Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce Ingredients
- How to Make Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce
- Pro Tips
- Some Delicious Ways to Use this Cilantro Chimichurri Recipe
- Storing, Freezing, and Thawing Instructions
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Check out these other sauces!
- 📖 Recipe
Origins of Chimichurri Sauce
Barbecues and grilling over open fire has always been a huge thing in South America and Central America. From the origins of churrasco, birria de res (and the popular birria tacos), carne asada and those Brazilian gaucho steakhouses, they've been creating amazing food from simple ingredients for millennia.
Chimichurri is an uncooked sauce that reigns from Argentina, where grilled meat is most often served with a flavorful chimichurri sauce.
The most common backstory is that the word chimichurri is actually a play on the inventor of the owner's name: Jimmy Curry, or Jimmy McCurry, who was an Irish expat in the 1800s who was either the owner of a meat market, an adventurer, a blind fiddle player, or a soldier. It depends on who is telling the story.
Anyway, this pesto-like sauce is credited to this man as "jimmy’s curry" which was colloquialized into "chimichurri", an herbed sauce made with simple ingredients.
What is Chimichurri Sauce Made of?
Cilantro chimichurri sauce is an herbaceous garlicky sauce made with fresh, finely chopped cilantro, fresh parsley, minced garlic, a little heat from pepper flakes or fresh chilies, and a bright acidic component from ingredients like red wine vinegar, lime juice, or lemon. It's a bright green sauce that is very versatile!
Use it in a recipe as a marinade, or a steak sauce, or using it as a dip for bread or seafood.
An authentic chimichurri recipe from Argentina is a simple recipe that has no cilantro and is made by hand where they finely chop all the herbs, alliums, and chiles and mix all the ingredients in a small bowl, then wait for those ingredients to really meld together well for 24 hours before serving.
But in this recipe we're making it easy by using our food processor.
Food processor - this is not traditional, but it makes life easier.
Chef's Knife and Cutting Board - this is to peel the garlic and shallots and shave the cilantro leaves off the stems.
Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce Ingredients
Full ingredients, measurements, and printable instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
The great thing is that this is such a versatile sauce not only in what it can be used as (salad dressing, marinade, serving sauce, dipping sauce) but also in our ingredient checklist!
Herbs like fresh cilantro and Italian parsley, and fresh oregano. This salsa is totally based on fresh herbs, fresh ingredients.
Garlic cloves. Use fresh garlic, not the stuff in the jar.
Shallots - they have a more mild bite than red onion, so that's what I use in this recipe.
Red chili flakes. It brings a little kick, but if you're not into spice you can omit it. You could also use fresh red chili peppers like chile de arbol or Fresno chile.
Good quality olive oil. Traditional chimichurri sauce calls for extra virgin olive oil, but if you're not a fan of the really fruit flavor you can use a mix of light olive oil and extra virgin or just the light olive oil.
Sea salt and black pepper. Kosher salt is also great, but I find the coarse sea salt gives great flavor!
Red Wine or White Wine Vinegar - these bring a complex flavor along with their acidity. But you can also use fresh lime juice or fresh lemon juice.
How to Make Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce
Step 1 | Add the cilantro, flat leaf parsley, into the bowl of a food processor with the shallot, garlic cloves, and fresh chilies or red pepper flakes. Give them a quick blend just to get things chopped down a little bit.
Step 2 | Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of the food processor, with the olive oil and vinegar or lemon being last, and blend on low speed until the sauce looks very green and everything is chopped well. Serve it at room temperature!
You can also make this by hand with a sharp knife by chopping everything up on a cutting board, even turning the garlic into garlic paste by mashing it onto the board with coarse salt and the flat side of your knife, then whisk everything together in a small bowl.
- Apple cider vinegar can be used if you like the flavor of it more!
- Make traditional argentinian chimichurri by omitting the cilantro.
- Try making mint chimichurri by adding fresh mint leaves into this classic sauce.
- We are using a good cup of cilantro here, if you are not a cilantro lover just replace it with an equal amount of Italian parsley.
- Make a batch of chimichurri up to a week ahead of time, it'll still have the fresh flavors but it really gets better as it sits, in my opinion.
- Use fresh flat-leaf parsley, not curly parsley for this recipe.
Some Delicious Ways to Use this Cilantro Chimichurri Recipe
This cilantro sauce is just an amazing condiment for all of your summer recipes.
- Serve chimichurri sauce on meat dishes like grilled chicken (it's also fabulous in a grilled chicken caprese sandwich, I'm just sayin'!), flank steak, carne asada, or grilled fish tacos. Whenever the grill comes out at the cookout, this sauce should never be too far behind!
- Make a yummy potato salad just using baby potatoes and chimichurri sauce.
- It has so much flavor impact, it's great for amping up other dishes. Toss baby potatoes in the sauce for my favorite chimichurri potatoes, drizzle on fluffy rice for a wow factor, or spoon over beautiful poached eggs on avocado toast for a flavorful breakfast.
- Even if it's not summer, it's fantastic on slow braised meats like in carnitas street tacos and with birria tacos as well!
- Use it as a marinade for beef or shrimp!
- Use as a dip for bread, for seafood, or even chicken wings!
- Mix the chimichurri into aioli for a delicious sandwich spread for a punch of flavor, or into greek yogurt or sour cream for a creamy, flavorful sauce.
- It's also fabulous as a salad dressing!
Chimichurri sauce pairs so well with basically anything, honestly!
Storing, Freezing, and Thawing Instructions
This recipe makes about 20 (2 tablespoon) servings and it's best used after the flavors have had a chance to mingle, about 30 minutes to an hour.
Store leftover chimichurri sauce in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. The herbs and alliums settle in the oil, leaving a layer over the top to protect the sauce from oxidation.
Serve it at room temperature since the oil will probably solidify, so take it out about 30 minutes before serving.
Freeze this sauce in freezer-safe containers or freezer-safe zip top bags for up to 3 months.
Pro Tip: Use an ice cube tray to make serving size cubes of frozen chimichurri sauce to keep on hand! They're great for throwing into a pan to give flavor to any dish you're making or when you only need just a little bit to have as a sauce.
When you're ready to use the chimichurri sauce, transfer the desired portion from the freezer to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight or at room temperature on the counter.
Once thawed, stir the sauce well before using.
Frequently Asked Questions
This sauce isn't spicy, though you can make it spicy by adding fresh chilies or more red pepper flakes.
Chimichurri is bright, zesty, and herbaceous in flavor. It's great for cutting through rich dishes and adding more flavor to many proteins and vegetables.
Chimichurri lasts for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, kept in an airtight container.
Check out these other sauces!
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- 1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves (coriander leaves)
- ½ cup fresh Mexican oregano
- 6 garlic cloves (more or less depending on how much you like garlic)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ shallot
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar or lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Tear the herb leaves from their stems and add them to the bowl of a food processor or blender.
- Add the garlic cloves, shallot, red pepper flakes, sea salt, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil to the container of the blender or food processor.
- Pulse to start the blending a couple of times, then blend on low speed until the garlic, herbs, and shallot are chopped very finely into small pieces.
- Chimichurri sauce can be used immediately but tastes even better if it sits at room temperature for an hour or two before serving or is made the night before for the flavors to mingle together.
- Store in an airtight container for up to two week. See notes for freezer storage for longer usage.
Freezing Chimichurri Sauce
Want to keep it for long term? Use ice cube trays to make serving size cubes of frozen chimichurri sauce to keep on hand! They're great for throwing into a pan to give flavor to any dish you're making.
Don't have a food processor or blender?
You can chop all the ingredients up by hand with a sharp knife and whisk them together until well combined in a bowl.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 2 tbsp
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 61Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 73mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 0g
All nutrition facts are estimations. Please see a physician for any health-related inquiries.
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.