Add a pop of zesty flavor to meat, veggies, salads and more with a quick and easy recipe for the best Homemade Chimichurri Sauce. You’ll need just 5 minutes to whip it up.
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Pesto is to Italian cuisine what chimichurri sauce is to Argentinian cuisine. Both sauces are flavor powerhouses, with the latter lending a citrusy, herby zing to just about anything you can imagine.
I first fell in love with chimichurri sauce when I was living in Chicago during college. Dining out didn’t happen often, but my then-boyfriend (now husband) took me to a well-known restaurant called Carnivale in the city’s West Loop neighborhood for date night. It’s a South American steakhouse with an eclectic menu, and of course, steak with a side of chimichurri sauce is a signature dish.
It wasn’t long before I was attempting to recreate this incredibly versatile sauce in my apartment kitchen. Fast-forward 15 years and to page 184 in my new cookbook, and you’ll find a recipe for Julio’s Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. (That version has a very special surprise ingredient!)
The key to perfect chimichurri comes down to a delicate balance of fresh herbs, acidity (in the form of citrus and vinegar), a little heat and, most importantly, a little sweetness.
Ways to Enjoy Chimichurri
- Crostini: Spread it on toasted bread or crostini for a quick and tasty appetizer.
- For breakfast: Drizzle the chimichurri onto scrambled eggs or over an omelet or swap it for the pesto in my simple recipe for Pesto Eggs on Cheesy Toast (which involves cooking the eggs in pesto!).
- Roasted meats and fish: Authentic chimichurri goes well with roast chicken, salmon, shrimp or pork tenderloin.
- Tacos and quesadillas: Dunk and drizzle to your heart’s desire!
- Nachos: It’s amazing drizzled over sheet pan nachos.
- Fries: The herby sauce makes a great dip (or topping) for fries. I particularly like it with sweet-but-savory Baked Sweet Potato Fries.
- Salad dressing: Add a few tablespoons to salad dressing for a punch of flavor.
- Parsley and cilantro: These bring their herbaceous, punchy flavors to the sauce! It goes without saying, but make sure you use fresh parsley and cilantro, not dried.
- Oregano: My recipe calls for fresh oregano, but you can use half of the amount of dried oregano if that’s all you can find.
- Jalapeño: Remove seeds and membrane for milder heat; leave them for more spice.
- Shallots: Shallots are like onion’s less pungent cousins. You can just roughly chop the shallots for this recipe (the food processor will do the rest!).
- Garlic: Two medium cloves of garlic are ideal here. You don’t even need to chop or mince—just peel and throw them into the food processor.
- Lime juice and red wine vinegar: These are your acids and are what will make your chimichurri sauce taste brighter.
- Honey: Sweetness balances spice, acid and salt. Instead of honey, you could use maple syrup.
- Olive oil: For this recipe, you’ll slowly stream in the olive oil while the food processor is on. This will make sure the sauce is emulsified (meaning that it’s creamy and the oil is incorporated into the rest of the ingredients.)
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Add all but the olive oil to the food processor. Place the herbs, pepper, shallots, garlic, lime juice, vinegar, honey, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until everything is roughly chopped.
- Add the olive oil. With the motor on, stream in the olive oil. Process until combined, scraping down the sides of the food processor’s bowl as needed. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
No food processor? No problem! Simply utilize the pulse function on your blender. Remember to pause occasionally and scrape down the sides to ensure all the ingredients are well incorporated. Your chimichurri will be just as delicious with this alternative method!
- Control the Heat: For a spicier sauce, leave the jalapeño seeds intact. And for a milder sauce, remove them. To do so, slice off the top of the pepper. Then, slice the jalapeño in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds of the pepper.
- Wash Your Hands: Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling the jalapeño. And really make sure to avoid touching your face (especially your eyes!) until you do so.
- Stems Are Fine: You can leave the thinner stems of the cilantro on the herbs! Cilantro stems have a lot of flavor.
- Consistency Matters: Adjust the sauce’s thickness by controlling the olive oil quantity. Thicker for a marinade, thinner for a drizzling sauce.
- Rest for Flavor Infusion: Allow the chimichurri to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. This gives the flavors time to meld and intensify.
The sauce will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
You can also freeze the sauce for up to 3 months. To do so, place it into an airtight container and let thaw in the fridge before using. Alternatively, you can freeze the sauce in an ice cube tray and then transfer the cubes to a zipper-lock bag. Then, you can just use a cube or two as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make chimichurri sauce in a blender instead of a food processor. However, the blender’s sauce will be smoother and creamier than one made in a food processor.
The bitterness in chimichurri often comes from peppers and alliums (shallots and garlic). Balance these flavors by adding the right amount of acidity, such as lime juice, and a touch of sweetness, like honey. Allowing the sauce to sit in the fridge for a day or two not only helps meld the flavors but also results in a less bitter sauce.
Flat-leaf parsley is preferred for chimichurri due to its robust flavor. Curly parsley can be used, but the taste may be milder.
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- 1/2 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
- 2/3 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
- 1 Tablespoon lightly packed fresh oregano leaves
- 1 small jalapeño (seeds optional; See Kelly's Note)
- 2 Tablespoons roughly chopped shallots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Add the parsley, cilantro, oregano, jalapeño, shallots, garlic, lime juice, red wine vinegar, honey, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.
- With the motor running, stream in the olive oil. Continue blending until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste and season the chimichurri with salt and pepper then serve or store, covered in an airtight container, in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- For a spicier sauce, leave the jalapeño seeds intact. And for a milder sauce, remove them. To do so, slice off the top of the pepper. Then, slice the jalapeño in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds of the pepper.
- Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling the jalapeño. And really make sure to avoid touching your face (especially your eyes!) until you do so.
- You can leave the thinner stems of the cilantro on the herbs! Cilantro stems have a lot of flavor.
- ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
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