Cilantro Pesto

This cilantro pesto has just enough jalapeno to give it a little kick

This cilantro pesto has just enough jalapeno to give it a little kick

While researching this recipe, I learned there actually are a lot of cilantro pesto recipes floating around in the internet ocean. After finally making cilantro pesto myself, I now understand the reason for all those recipes…cilantro pesto is fire, it’s rad, it’s killer, it’s really dang good.

Cilantro Pesto is a great condiment for both Hispanic and Asian dishes

Cilantro Pesto is a great condiment for Hispanic or Asian dishes

I made a batch of this pesto with one bunch of cilantro in the food processor, and ended up with two smallish, approximately 3-ounce jars. I prefer putting up pesto of any kind in smaller jars like these and freezing what I’m not using right away. Then I later can thaw smaller amounts that will stay fresher in the fridge longer. Also, I leave a small space at the top of the filled jars, and to that extra space, I pour olive oil on top…this seems to add an extra barrier of protection for storing pesto in the freezer.

I’ve made basil pesto for years, but this is the first time I had tried cilantro pesto, and I only wish I had made it years before, because, yeah, this stuff is tasty and extremely versatile.

I sauteed tilapia in butter the other night and smeared this cilantro pesto all over it.  Yum. I’ve mixed it into white rice to serve alongside enchiladas.  Bueno again.  I added it to chicken stir-fry, and again, delicious.

To me, this cilantro pesto works especially well on Asian and Hispanic dishes, but I think it also would be wonderful on pizza, polenta, baked potato, eggs, pasta, or mixed with mayo for a spread on sandwiches.  You get the idea.

Extra cilantro pesto can be stored in jars in the freezer for later use

Extra cilantro pesto can be stored in jars in the freezer for later use

I originally was going to use walnuts to make this pesto, but only had almonds on hand, and so used those instead.  Looking back, I’m glad I only had almonds. As Simply Recipes notes, almonds seem to enhance the flavor of the cilantro, rather than compete with it, like pine nuts or walnuts might.  This recipe calls for half of a jalapeno and three cloves of garlic, all of which add the perfect extra kick and complement the green “bite” of the cilantro so well.  Lime juice provides an essential citrusy foil. I hope you’ll give this cilantro pesto a try!

Here’s the recipe:

Cilantro Pesto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and garlic are transformed into a pesto that is foolproof and flexible for so many foods and cuisines
Recipe type: Condiment
Serves: 6 ounces
  • One bunch of cilantro including stems, washed and dried
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice
  • ½ cup almonds, slivered, sliced or whole
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ jalapeno pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  1. If using whole almonds, pulse in food processor until coarsely ground. Otherwise, skip this step.
  2. Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until combined. Avoid mixing too long so you don't end up with a puree, since you want a little bit of grainy texture from the nuts. Add more oil to thin it out if necessary.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To store extra cilantro pesto for later use, fill small jars almost to top and then pour a few teaspoons of olive oil on top, close jar tightly and place in freezer.





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