Fresh cilantro (aka coriander) is one of my favorite herbs, so I love using it to make Cilantro Pesto instead of using fresh basil.
If you haven’t had it before, cilantro pesto is a yummy twist on traditional basil pesto that will delight your taste buds.
It can be used in many of the same ways, and more. Best of all, it’s an easy recipe to make if you’re short on time and looking for something quick to make for dinner tonight!
Cilantro Pesto Recipe
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves and stems
- 6 cloves garlic - minced
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese - grated
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
- Cutting Board
- Cheese grater
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Blender or food processor
- Small saucepan
- Silicone spatula
- Put all ingredients (cilantro, garlic cloves, pecans, parmesan, cayenne, salt, extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice) into a blender or food processor.
- Blend until it reaches your desired consistency and texture.
- Warm in a small saucepan over medium heat just until it starts to bubble. You’re doing this to infuse the flavors together, melt the cheese and lightly cook the garlic.
- Serve you delicious pesto with your favorite pasta dish, or on toasted bread.
Nutrition Information Per Serving
Tips for Making Cilantro Pesto
1. How does this compare to traditional pesto recipes?
The ingredients are very similar, but instead of basil leaves, we use fresh cilantro leaves. While I know there are plenty of cilantro haters who think cilantro tastes like soap, I actually prefer cilantro pesto to basil pesto.
2. How to use cilantro pesto?
Homemade pesto makes a delicious sauce for chicken or shrimp pasta. You can use it as a dressing, sandwich spread, taco topping, on steak, as a pizza sauce or mix it in with rice.
3. Making substitutions
Fresh pesto is a super versatile and flexible sauce. There are lots of substitutions you can make if you don’t have some of the ingredients on hand, or you like to experiment with flavors.
- Pecans. You can substitute pine nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds or any kind of nut in place of pecans.
- Lime juice. Lemon juice or white wine vinegar can be substituted for lime juice.
- Parmesan cheese. Cotija cheese can give this pesto sauce a slightly more Mexican flavor. Try nutritional yeast for vegan cilantro pesto.
- Sea salt. You can use kosher salt or any table salt.
- Cayenne pepper. Try crushed red peppers in place of cayenne for slightly less heat.
4. Make it spicier
The recipe as written has a mild heat that comes from the cayenne. If you want a spicier pesto sauce, either double the cayenne or add a chopped serrano chile to the ingredients to add some flavorful heat.
5. How to store your sauce
If you’re not going to use it right away, store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container (like a mason jar) for up to 3 days before using. For best results, pour more extra virgin olive oil over the pesto in the jar before refrigerating it.
6. Can you freeze cilantro pesto?
Yes. The best way to freeze pesto is in ice cube trays. Then pop the pesto cubes out and store them in the freezer in a freezer-safe container like small mason jars or freezer bags.