Need to use up a bunch of cilantro? Use it to make the BEST Cilantro Pesto!
This delicious Cilantro Sauce is very easy to make and features fresh, bright flavors you'll love. Plus, it's super versatile ... use on pasta, pizza, rice, even Mexican food!
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I don't know about you, but I LOVE cilantro ... it's the perfect finishing touch for so many meals. The only problem is that one bunch goes a looong way, and I hate throwing half out.
If you're looking for things to make with lots of cilantro too, then you need to try this delicious Cilantro Pesto!
You're going to love the bright Southwestern / Mexican-inspired flavors of this vibrant green sauce! It's also quick and easy to make, plus so versatile ... basically, the best way to use up the rest of that bunch!
Ready to try this delish sauce for yourself? Keep reading for all the details!
You can find the ingredients for this easy recipe pretty much anywhere. Here's what you'll need to gather:
- Fresh Garlic
- Serrano Pepper
- Fresh Cilantro
- Fresh Parsley
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt (I prefer to use Kosher Salt.)
These simple ingredients combine to make a tasty vegan pesto that's ready in minutes. And it's easy to customize, too ... check out my tips below.
You'll Also Need
To prepare this recipe, you'll also need a food processor, or if you're feeling super ambitious, a large mortar and pestle.
How to Make Cilantro Pesto
Ready to get started? You'll find a detailed recipe card below, but here's a quick overview of the steps:
- Toast nuts. Start by placing the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Cook the nuts, stirring frequently and watching them closely, until they're toasted golden brown.
- Mince nuts, serrano, and garlic. Let the nuts cool slightly, then transfer them to your food processor, along with a serrano pepper (seed and roughly chop it first) and the garlic. Pulse these three ingredients together until minced.
- Add remaining ingredients. Next, add the cilantro and parsley (roughly chopped), lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Process everything together until you have a smooth sauce.
- Season to taste. Once your sauce is combined, taste it. Then season it to taste with more salt and lemon juice, if needed. The flavors should be bright and bold.
And that's all there really is to it, your delicious Cilantro Pesto is ready to use! So simple, right?
Like most pesto recipes, it's easy to make a few changes here and there to change things up according to your personal tastes (or based on what's in your pantry). Here are a few ideas to inspire you:
- Herbs - I used a combination of cilantro (sometimes called coriander) and parsley here. However, you could use all cilantro, or even add in other herbs, like basil or mint.
- Nuts - Almost any nut will work in this recipe. Try swapping in walnuts, pine nuts, or pecans for the almonds.
- Nut Free - Skip the nuts or replace them with seeds, such as pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sunflower seeds.
- Lemon or Lime - The recipe calls for lemon juice, but fresh lime juice would work just as well.
- Peppers - I used a serrano pepper for this recipe, but you could swap in another hot pepper (such as a jalapeño) or replace it with ¼ teaspoon cayenne. If you're not sure how much to add, start with half a pepper and go from there. And if you can't take the heat, of course you can leave out the peppers altogether.
This recipe is best fresh, but if you make it ahead, store it in a small container in your refrigerator for two to three days. A mason jar works perfectly for this.
You can also freeze the pesto for a month or two. Store it in a zip top bag, flattening the bag to let out the excess air. Or if you have just a bit leftover, freeze the pesto in an ice cube tray. Then, transfer the cubes to an airtight container once they're frozen.
How to Use It
There are so many fun and delicious ways to use this Cilantro Pesto Sauce!
For starters, you're going to love it in this Cilantro Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and this Southwest Pasta Salad. Both recipes were developed with this exact pesto in mind, so you know they're going to be delish!
Don't stop with pasta though! You can use this yummy sauce anywhere you'd use traditional pesto. So consider swirling it in a bowl of soup, mixing it into cooked rice, drizzling it over fresh veggies, using it as a pizza sauce, or even enjoying it as a dip. Combine it with mayonnaise to make Pesto Mayo (great as a sandwich spread or dipping sauce).
Looking for more uses? My How to Use Pesto guide has 30 recipes ideas to inspire you!
Can't get enough of this delish sauce? Make sure to try my Classic Basil Pesto, Macadamia Pesto, Rosemary Pesto, and Kale Pesto recipes, too.
Then, you'll want to make these recipes—each featuring different kinds of pesto—next!
- Pesto, Feta, and Veggie Pizza
- Roasted Veggie Bowl
- Kale Pesto Pasta
- Green Pizza with Pesto
- Hummus Sandwich with Pesto and Veggies
- Grape, Feta, and Pesto Pizza
- Kale Pesto Pizza
And don't forget to check out all of my Sauce and Condiment Recipes! They're the perfect way to liven up your next dinner.
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- 1 large clove garlic
- ½ to 1 whole serrano pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 cup cilantro (packed)
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley (packed)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Place almonds in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently and watching closely, until nuts are golden brown.
- Let almonds cool slightly, then add to food processor, along with garlic and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped.
- Roughly chop cilantro and parsley, then add to food processor, along with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Process until smooth.
- Taste sauce, then adjust seasoning with additional lemon juice and salt, if desired.
- Use pesto immediately or store in an airtight container in refrigerator. Enjoy!
- Herbs - Feel free to use all cilantro, or even add in other herbs, like basil or mint.
- Nuts - Almost any nut will work in this recipe, such as walnuts, pine nuts, or pecans.
- Nut Free - Replace the nuts with seeds, such as pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sunflower seeds, or leave them out.
- Lime - Substitute fresh lime juice for the lemon juice.
- Peppers - Swap in another hot pepper (such as a jalapeño) or replace it with ¼ teaspoon cayenne. If you're not sure how much to add, start with half a pepper and go from there.
- Less Spicy - Can't take the heat? Leave out the peppers altogether.