What Is Chimichurri Sauce, and How Do I Make It?

If you haven't experimented with chimichurri sauce yet, it's about time. This recipe takes only 5 minutes and it lasts for weeks!

Get ready, folks, because we’re about to change your life with two simple words: chimichurri sauce. If you’ve never had this sauce before, you’re about to be wowed. It’s similar to pesto, but without any cheese or nuts and with a heavier emphasis on acidic vinegar. It’s simple and fresh, and it goes well with…well, just about everything: steak, chicken, pork chops, seafood, vegetables and more.

A sauce can go a long way towards taking a simple dish and elevating it to something incredible. You’ll be amazed at how easy this one is to pull off, too. Seven simple ingredients and five minutes are all you need to transform your weeknight dinner rut. Plus, it’s fun to say, especially if you lean into rolling those R’s: Chimichurrrrrrrrrrri.

What Is Chimichurri Sauce?

Chimichurri is an uncooked sauce made with finely-chopped herbs, garlic, oil and vinegar. (Here’s how to keep those herbs fresh.) The sauce originates from Argentina and Uruguay, where it is traditionally used to dress grilled meats. It sometimes contains spicy chile peppers or red pepper flakes, and the herbs vary to include favorites like parsley, cilantro and oregano. While it’s usually made with green ingredients, there is also a red chimichurri variation made with red peppers or tomatoes.

What Does Chimichurri Sauce Taste Like?

If we could only use one word to describe chimichurri sauce, it would be “bright.” The combination of fresh cilantro and parsley pack an herbaceous flavor, while the red pepper flakes bring a hint of spice. Add in the garlic’s spicy, pungent flavor and the vinegar’s acidic tang, and that’s chimichurri. It tastes fresh and strong, but the fat in the olive oil brings it all together into a pleasant, cohesive experience.

How to Make Chimichurri Sauce

The best part about this chimichurri sauce recipe (other than its delicious flavor) is that it stores exceptionally well. The vinegar helps to preserve the herbs, so you can store it, covered, in the refrigerator for several weeks. Keep in mind that the olive oil will solidify, so it’s best to pull it out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before use.

Yield: About 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Step 1: Chop the Garlic and Herbs

Place the garlic in a small food processor. Pulse until you’ve chopped the garlic into small pieces. Then, add the cilantro, parsley, salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Process the mixture until it’s finely chopped.

Step 2: Add the Vinegar and Oil

Add the vinegar to the herb mixture and begin processing. With the blades running, gradually add the oil in a steady stream. Remove the sauce from the bowl and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Pro Tip: If the mixture is too thick for your liking, add a tablespoon of water at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

Chimichurri Sauce Variations

Chimichurri sauce is extremely versatile, so feel free to swap in other green ingredients for the cilantro and parsley. Try a combination of fresh oregano and arugula to create a sauce with a spicy kick! You can also use fresh dill, mint, kale, chard, mustard greens and more.

What Is Chimichurri Sauce Good On?

Chimichurri complements any number of meats and vegetables. Here are some of our favorite ways to use chimichurri sauce:

  • Serve it alongside grilled steak or pork chops, roasted chicken, poached salmon or sauteed shrimp.
  • Drizzle it over grilled vegetable kebabs or oven-roasted vegetables.
  • Use it as a salad dressing for greens or stir it into cooked, cooled grains for an easy grain salad.
  • Toss roasted potatoes with the sauce for a quick-and-easy side dish, or mix it into a potato salad recipe.
  • Swirl a tablespoon or two into mayonnaise to create a sandwich spread.
  • Add it to yogurt or sour cream to create a creamy dipping sauce.
  • Use it to marinate meat, seafood or vegetable dishes.
  • Spoon it over eggs on your favorite breakfast dish.
  • Bake it on bread with grated Parmesan cheese to create the ultimate garlic bread.
Here are More Ways to Cook with Fresh Herbs
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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.