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!
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.
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
- 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
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.
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.
Step 3: Then stir together the sauce adding the oil a bit at a time.
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.
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
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
This recipe was originally published in 2014, but has been updated with more information, tips, and new photos in 2021.