Cilantro Chimichurri

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This Cilantro Chimichurri is an easy-to-make fresh take on the traditional Argentinian chimichurri. The cilantro and lime combine together to make an unbeatable flavor paired with grilled meats of all kinds. You can make this the traditional way by stirring the sauce together. Or you can try my blender method which makes this sauce a touch creamy which is fantastic too!

Cilantro Chimichurri in a pottery bowl on a white background surrounded by cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.

I first tasted chimichurri sauce in a Brazilian barbecue restaurant called Bolero in Calgary. If you’ve never had Brazilian barbecue, now’s the time to start! I love how they serve so many perfectly and simply barbecued meats with flavorful chimichurri on the side for dipping.

Now… I’m a sauce girl all the way. But if you go to a really good Brazilian barbecue restaurant, they showcase the quality of their meat and it tastes amazing without added flavor! And the herbaceous chimichurri really is the perfect pairing with those simple meats.

I love the entire experience that starts out with those chewy little Brazilian cheese buns, (. Then you move on to the grilled meat and chimichurri.

Somewhere in the middle of all the meat, they bring out the grilled veggies sprinkled with parmesan. And I always end everything with as much cinnamon-glazed grilled pineapple as one person can possibly eat.

Actually, if we’re being honest here, I probably eat enough grilled pineapple for half the restaurant – it’s that good! In fact, it’s so good I now have a super easy at-home version you can make – Cinnamon Glazed Grilled Pineapple with my Coconut Ice Cream.

Side view of Cilantro Chimichurri in a pottery bowl on a white backdrop with cilantro springs and lime wedges around the bowl.

So… why make a Mexican-inspired chimichurri of all things? Simply because I love cilantro more than the traditional parsley – it’s as simple as that! A traditional chimichurri is stirred together with the oil and vinegar sometimes separating only to be stirred back together.

While you can make this version that way too, I like to throw all my ingredients in the blender or mini food processor, and blend until it becomes creamy. This method has my sauce ready in just minutes because it eliminates most of the chopping. And the creamy texture is really nice too.

Ingredients & Substitutions

All the ingredients for Cilantro Chimichurri on a wood cutting board: cilantro, olive oil, garlic, onion, lime, red peppers flakes, and sea salt.
  • Cilantro – takes the place of the traditional fresh parsley in this chimichurri and I know you’re going to love the results too! If you absolutely hate cilantro, make this the traditional way with parsley instead of fresh cilantro.
  • Onion & garlic – together add lots of savory flavor to this sauce and make it the perfect pairing for grilled meats. I usually use white or yellow onion, but the milder shallots or red onion work well with these flavors too.
  • Lime juice – adds a bright spot of acidity and I love the way it pairs with cilantro a bit more than the more traditional red wine vinegar.
  • Olive oil – use the best extra virgin olive oil you have because this is a super simple sauce the reward is great. The flavor of your olive oil will shine through here, so you want the tastiest oil possible.
  • Red pepper flakes – add just a touch of flavor but not really any heat.

Now let’s make this Cilantro Chimichurri sauce recipe step by step

Diced onion, and chopped cilantro on a wood cutting board with small bowls of olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes.

Step 1: Chop the onion into a small dice and combine all the ingredients in a mini food processor, blender, or a bowl. You’ll want to chop the ingredients as finely as you can if you’re stirring together the sauce.

Adding the chopped cilantro, onion, and garlic to a white bowl set on a wood cutting board.

Step 2: Next, add the ingredients to a medium to large bowl with room to mix the sauce together. I like to lightly crush the cilantro and onion with the back of the spoon to bring out more flavor.

Stirring together the cilantro chimichurri on a wood cutting board.

Step 3: Then stir together the sauce adding the oil a bit at a time.

Making the cilantro chimichurri in a small food processor.

Step 4: Or you can pulse the ingredients together in a mini food processor until a creamy texture is reached. Season to taste with sea salt and serve.

Straight down view of Cilantro Chimichurri in a small pottery bowl with a silver spoon in it and cilantro sprigs on the side.

Ways to serve this

  • serve this sauce with anything grilled, particularly beef, chicken, shrimp, and salmon. It’s also great with my Grilled Vegetables.
  • use it as a salad dressing
  • stir it into mashed avocado for a really good dip
  • drizzle it over roasted sweet potatoes or potatoes
  • use it as a marinade rather than a sauce
  • toss it with freshly steamed Jasmine rice

FAQ’s

Does chimichurri contain cilantro?

Traditional authentic chimichurri does not contain cilantro, it’s mostly made up of parsley. However, we love cilantro and this recipe uses cilantro rather than what is traditional.

What is the difference between chimichurri and gremolata?

Chimichurri is a sauce that originates from Argentina whereas gremolata originates from Italy. Both sauces in their authentic form contain garlic and parsley. Gremolata is usually parsley, lemon zest, and garlic whereas chimichurri is parsley, onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.

Storing leftovers

  • To store – place any leftovers into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 1 week. Let the sauce come back to room temperature to liquify the olive oil before serving.
  • Make ahead – this sauce keeps really well and can be made ahead for your next bbq, potluck, or as part of your weekly meal prep.
Straight down view of Cilantro Chimichurri in a pottery bowl with a silver spoon with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges around it.

Tips & Tricks

  • Try making this recipe with parsley instead of cilantro for a more traditional flavor.
  • We love this sauce stirred together, but it’s also really tasty made in the food processor with a slightly creamier texture. Try it both ways!
  • Be sure to season to taste well with sea salt, salt is what brings out the best of all the fresh flavors in this sauce.
Side view of Cilantro Chimichurri in a pottery bowl with cilantro sprigs on the side.

I really hope you enjoy this Cilantro Chimichurri! And if you do get a chance to make it, I hope you’ll leave me a comment/rating below. I always love hearing from you here! Also for lots more easy sauce recipes, head over to my sauce recipe page.

Straight down view of Cilantro Chimichurri in a small pottery bowl with a silver spoon in it and cilantro sprigs on the side.

Cilantro Chimichurri


5 from 1 vote
Author: Kari Peters
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield: 6
Course: Sauce

INGREDIENTS  

  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves - (a small amount of stems is ok)
  • 5 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1/4 cup onion - small dice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice - or red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water - omit unless you make this sauce in the food processor
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes - optional, see notes

INSTRUCTIONS 

  • Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend on low until combined and creamy looking.
  • Be sure to leave plenty of texture in the sauce, it’s not supposed to be smooth.
  • For the traditional method, you can mince the onion very fine and stir together all the ingredients in a serving bowl – this way isn't quite as fast and it doesn't turn out creamy but either way is equally delicious! Omit the water for this version.
Bonus StepIf you made this recipe, please leave a rating/comment. Ratings really help us continue to bring you high-quality free recipes. Rate This Recipe!

NOTES

This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce but it can easily be cut in half!
I sometimes like to use 1-2 tsp minced jalapeno in place of the red pepper flakes when I serve this sauce with Mexican inspired food.
Category: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Keywords: Chimichurri for Steak, Cilantro Chimichurri, Cilantro Chimichurri Recipe, Easy Chimichurri Recipe

nutrition facts

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 169kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Sodium: 392mg | Potassium: 47mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 210IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.2mg
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This recipe was originally published in 2014, but has been updated with more information, tips, and new photos in 2021.

2 thoughts on “Cilantro Chimichurri”

  1. Brazilian bbq is one the best things ever. Different from a classic US, but definitely up to par in term of flavors.

    This chimichurri recipe is definitely a keeper, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Brazilian style is so different from American, but I love so many things about both styles! It’s probably why I can be found grilling when it’s -10ºF and blowing snow – thank goodness for some sunnier months ahead!

      Reply

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