Simple ingredients, fresh herbs, and spices combine to create homemade Cilantro Pesto. A fun take on traditional pesto sauce recipes, this cilantro pesto recipe is budget-friendly and easy to make. Use it for pasta dishes, eggs, and more! Vegan and Dairy Free Option.
Part of our Minimal Ingredient March series and the 3rd installment of Sauce week, this cilantro pesto is made with simple ingredients that pack tons of flavor with fresh herbs and spices to add flavor to all your favorite meals in minutes!
Pass the Pesto, Please
Have you ever noticed that your food cravings change with the seasons? For example, in the winter, I find myself making all the cozy comfort foods like Creamy Hungarian Mushroom Soup and Tuna Noodle Casserole. However, as soon as spring hits and warmer weather begins to appear I can’t help but make all things green! In fact, one of my all-time favorite spring recipes is cilantro pesto pasta!
Actually, if I’m being totally honest, I love all things pesto. It’s just so versatile! For instance, you can make my 3 different Spring pesto sauces or create an easy edamame pesto dip, and that’s just the beginning! Don’t even get me started on all the ways to use pesto, too. I mean, with recipes like Roasted Poblano Pesto Zoodles, Dill Pesto Potato Wedge Salad, and Peppery Broccoli Arugula Pesto Pasta, how could you not love it?
That being said, there’s no such thing as too many pesto recipes, right? Right. So, I decided to switch things up a bit and added a bit of an herby twist with the addition of cilantro! Light and flavorful, it adds just enough punch to elevate traditional pesto, making it even better. Plus, it’s so quick to make and a great option to take any meal from bland to boring in minutes.
What Is Pesto?
Originating in Genoa, Italy, pesto is a sauce or spread made by combining basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and pine nuts. Traditionally, pesto sauces were made by pounding the ingredients in a mortar and pestle. However, today most versions are made by combining the ingredients in a food processor. (Source)
What does pesto taste like? The flavor of traditional pesto sauce is best described as being herby from the basil as well as slightly salty and cheesy from the Parmesan. However, this cilantro pesto recipe packs a slightly different punch thanks to the addition of cilantro!
Cilantro Pesto Ingredients & Swaps
For this recipe, all you’ll need are a few kitchen staples and some fresh cilantro! In fact, to keep this pesto recipe a bit more budget-friendly, we swapped out pine nuts for roasted cashew nuts. Not only do they save you money, but they also help create a slightly sweeter, smooth flavor that balances out the intenseness of the cilantro!
You will need:
- Fresh Cilantro
- Roasted Cashews (Unsalted)
- Grated Parmesan Cheese or Nutritional Yeast for Dairy Free/Vegan Options
- Garlic Cloves
- Lemon or Lime Juice
- Smoked Paprika
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
Cilantro Health Perks: Sure, cilantro is tasty, but it’s also full of health benefits, too! It’s a great source of antioxidants and can help lower blood sugar, improve heart health, improve digestion, fight infections, and more. (Source)
How to Make This Cilantro Pesto Recipe
- Add all of the ingredients except for the olive oil to the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse until they are well combined. The texture will still be quite mealy until the oil is added.
- Keep the food processor running, and slowly add the olive oil to the mixture in a steady stream.
- Pour the pesto sauce into a small mixing bowl, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Note: When finished, your cilantro pesto will be a thick, spreadable paste. However, feel free to add more olive oil as needed to thin it out to suit your needs.
How to Use Cilantro Pesto
If I’m being honest, there’s not much I haven’t used this cilantro pesto recipe on. However, a few of my favorite ways to use it include:
- Gluten free Pesto Pasta Salad – new recipe coming soon 😉
- Lemon & Herb Socca Pizza
- Grilled Meats (Chicken, Shrimp, Steak)Appetizer Spread for a Snack Board
Yes! Keep leftover pesto sauce in the fridge for 5-7 days.
Sure! I recommend freezing your pesto sauce in an ice cube tray. Then, place the cubes in a sealable bag, and store them in the freezer for 2-3 months. When you’re ready to use, just grab a cube or two at a time!
For the best taste and texture, I recommend using fresh herbs. I haven’t tested it, but you should be able to substitute dried hers if you prefer. Just be sure to adjust the amounts used as they have a more potent taste.
Have you ever tried combining cilantro and pesto? They’re a match made in heaven! If you do give this cilantro pesto recipe a shot, I’d love it if you let me know in the comments below!