Cilantro Chimichurri Pesto: A Delicious Mash-Up

2 cups
5 min

I love a classic cilantro chimichurri sauce as much as I love a traditional pesto. So I figured, why not take the best of both to make a new epic dip recipe?

In this post, I’ll show you how I took the basic cilantro chimichurri sauce recipe and used a pesto creation method to make this yummy new mash-up!

Discover the ultimate healthy recipe for clean eating: cilantro chimichurri and pesto! This delicious and flavorful sauce is the perfect addition to any dish, adding bold and fresh taste without any of the guilt. Made with fresh herbs and spices, it's a dairy-free alternative to traditional pesto, perfect for vegans and those with lactose intolerance. Spice up your meals and enjoy the benefits of clean eating with this easy and delicious cilantro chimichurri pesto recipe.

What is the basic cilantro chimichurri sauce recipe?

To make a cilantro chimichurri sauce, you typically blend fresh cilantro, fresh parsley — and sometimes other fresh herbs — with red onion, garlic, red wine vinegar or lime juice, red pepper flakes, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. This bright and intensely flavored simple sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

It’s traditionally used on flank steak or skirt steak, but I also find it delicious to dip french fries into, much like my creamy lemon garlic dressing.

I’m a big fan of sauces!

This cilantro chimichurri pesto is the perfect green sauce for clean eating.

This is why I thought it would be really fun to take some elements of chimichurri and turn them into a unique pesto. So good for spreading onto sandwiches, mixing into pasta dishes, or serving over chicken.

I basically reduced the ingredients of the cilantro chimichurri to get the general flavors down to my family’s favorites. This super simple sauce uses only these ingredients:

  • Cilantro
  • Scallions (instead of onion and garlic)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Pepitas (aka roasted salted pumpkin seeds)
Hand pouring pepitas into a mini food processor

The pepitas are what turns this into a pesto. Pumpkin seeds give this a yummy roasty toasty flavor that you can’t really replicate with anything else. The best part is that this pesto twist is dairy free!

If you’re after a brighter flavor, you could add a squeeze of lime juice to this.

The directions are easy! Place all of the ingredients into a mini food processor and blend until it reaches a grainy consistency like this:

Pesto blended to the perfect grainy consistency

If you’re looking to shake up your meal plan, give this one a try! The first night I made it, I roasted broccoli, gnocchi, and chicken thighs on a sheet pan and tossed it all with this sauce. Soooo good.

If you’re a gnocchi fan, try my crispy sweet potato gnocchi next. Cheers!

Cilantro Chimichurri Pesto: A Delicious Mash-Up
Recipe details
  • 2  cups
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 0 Minutes Total time: 5 min
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  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds, shelled (also called pepitas)
  • 1 loosely packed cup of fresh cilantro
  • Green ends from 1 bunch of scallions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and chop until it reaches a grainy consistency
Add more olive oil if the pesto is too dry to spread evenly
  • Use as a spread for crostini, pizza, or a sandwich
  • Use as a veggie dip for crudités or breadsticks
  • Use as a sauce for pasta dishes or grilled meats
Brianna at Bloom in the Black
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  • Cso51108026 Cso51108026 on Jan 24, 2023

    This dip is AMAZING!!! Like the best Mexican spin on pesto! I ground it a little less coarsely and tossed with hot pasta, topped with grilled chipotle chicken! I think my husband was expecting Italian flavors but his eyes got HUGE and after he swallowed, he said, "PUT THIS ON THE MENU!" (A little inside joke for the cafe I'm going to open... someday! lol). Super-good, and #love that it's dairy-free, as my daughter is dairy-intolerant!!! Thanks for such a terrific post!!! ~Chrissie