This traditional Argentine herb sauce is great on grilled meat or fish
Chimichurri Sauce mixes minced parsley (and often cilantro) with lively spices and vinegar. It’s a traditional topping for grilled steak in Argentina. But it’s also tasty on any grilled meat, fowl, or fish.
This sauce takes only a few minutes to make. And, conveniently, you can prepare it a couple of hours ahead of time.
The flavor is so enticing, you’ll be tempted to use it as a spread or dip. Ask us how we know.
Recipe: Chimichurri Sauce (or Dip)
The essential ingredient for Chimichurri Sauce is finely minced parsley (we use a food processor because it’s easier). Cilantro makes a frequent appearance, too (but skip that if you don’t like it). Plus vinegar (we like red wine vinegar) and olive oil. And seasonings.
It’s a very flexible recipe – exact quantities and ingredients can be altered to taste. (In fact you'll find different variations in Argentina.)
This recipe takes 10 to 15 minutes to make and yields about 1½ cups.
Chimichurri Sauce is best used the same day it’s made. But leftovers will keep for a couple of days if refrigerated in an airtight container (you’ll lose a bit of the sparkle, but it’ll still be good).
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 cup leaves and tender stems of parsley (packed moderately tightly)
- ½ to 1 cup leaves and tender stems of cilantro (to taste; again, pack it moderately tightly in the measuring cup)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste; optional)
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin (or more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste; see Notes)
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
- ½ cup olive oil (or to taste)
- Add the garlic to a food processor and whirl until it’s chopped. Then add the parsley, cilantro, oregano, red pepper flakes, ground cumin, and salt. Pulse until the parsley and cilantro are finely chopped, and everything is nicely mixed together.
- Add the red wine vinegar and olive oil to the food processor and pulse to mix. You should have a thickish sauce that has body to it, but that will easily drop from a spoon.
- Taste, add more of any ingredient to balance the flavor (if necessary), then scrape the mixture into a lidded container.
- If using within the next 2 hours or so, let the sauce sit out at room temperature. Otherwise, refrigerate it until you’re ready to use. If you refrigerate, let the sauce come to room temperature before serving.
- You can make this sauce entirely by hand if you wish: Mince the parsley and cilantro, place them in a bowl, then whisk in the other ingredients (add the olive oil last).
- We use a large food processor when we make this. A mini food processor works, but you’ll have to add the parsley and cilantro in batches to get it properly minced.
- Better-quality olive oil will yield a better tasting sauce. Adjust the quantity to taste – use less if you want a thicker sauce, more if you want a thinner one.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- We most often use this sauce as a topping on meat. But it’s also good as a sandwich spread. It’s great for a leftover steak sandwich – or even a fried egg sandwich.
- Chimichurri Sauce also makes a nice dip for chips or veggies. If you use it as a dip, try mixing it with some sour cream for added flavor and texture.
- There are many parsley-based sauces around the world. Italian Salsa Verde is probably the best known. There’s no cilantro in that one, and it usually substitutes lemon juice for vinegar. It also adds capers and (typically) an anchovy or two.
- Another of our favorites is Moroccan Chermoula Sauce (aka Charmoula), which always contains parsley and cilantro. It usually adds paprika, ground coriander, and sometimes mint (always, when we make it). Often served on fish, it’s also good on grilled meats.
- The easiest to make might be French Persillade, which typically is just parsley, garlic, and salt chopped together. This sauce is superb with sautéed potatoes, or even french fries. Or rare roast lamb. A more elaborate version might contain olive oil and maybe vinegar. And occasionally anchovy.
“This sauce makes me chimmi with delight,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“I beg your parsley,” I said. “Those terrible puns are my job!”
“Thought I’d help you out,” said Mrs K R. “Call it cilantro-py.”
Mrs K R? Who’s she? I’ve never seen herbivore.
You may also enjoy reading about: