Easy Cilantro Pesto Recipe

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Cilantro pesto is a delicious spread that adds a ton of flavor to any sandwich. It can also be used as a sauce or in many other ways. This cilantro pesto recipe is very easy to make, delicious, healthy, and also affordable!


I love, love, love cilantro! I stick it everywhere and I grow a ton of it in my garden every spring. It’s fresh, it’s flavorful, and it’s healthy! It takes any dish to the next level as far as taste goes. 

It’s also very affordable to get at the grocery store (in case you don’t grow it yourself). Problem is, it’s not too easy to preserve. I usually get too excited when I see beautiful, green cilantro bunches at the grocery store, or I plant too many plants and have a huge harvest. I try to use most of it fresh but sometimes, I simply have too much.

Cilantro Pesto Recipe…

cilantro pesto ready for serving

In the past, I tried to dry cilantro. I figured that I’d use it to season food as I do with my dry oregano. I was surprised and a little disappointed to learn that it doesn’t really keep its taste when dry. At least not enough for me…

And so, I decided to make pesto with it. I love pesto! We always have basil pesto in the fridge, made with the delicious summer basil that I grow in the summer garden. In the spring and fall, I make carrot top pesto (yes! It’s a thing, and it’s delicious!) with young carrot tops that I have after thinning my carrot beds, and my favorite thing to do with my kale, aside from kale chips, is kale pesto. 

I consider pesto a way to preserve these greens because it freezes very well. If you grow a garden, you know that when it comes to greens, there aren’t too many ways to preserve them. I sometimes steam and freeze my greens, I love making vegetarian patties with them and freeze the patties, and I love making pesto and freezing it. These are mainly the ways that I preserve any greens.

fresh cilantro in a bowl

Ingredients…

  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Almond flour or 1/4 cup of nuts of your choice (more on this below)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil

Kitchen Tools…

How to Make Cilantro Pesto…

ingredients for cilantro pesto in the food processor

Step one – add ingredients to the processor. Add the cilantro, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, almond flour (or nuts of your choice), and a little bit of olive oil to the food processor. Turn the food processor on and as it’s working add more oil until the paste reaches your desired consistency.

Step two – correct seasonings and process. Stop the food processor and open the lid. With a spoon, scrape the sides and bottom of the food processor. This is a great time to taste your pesto and correct seasonings, it is also a great time to measure the consistency of the pesto. Close the food processor and turn it on again. If you feel like your pesto is too thick, this is the time to add a little bit more oil.

cilantro pesto ready for serving or storage

How to Store Cilantro Pesto…

  • In the fridge – once your pesto is ready, transfer it to a plastic container or a jar and store in the fridge. It should stay green and fresh and beautiful for a few weeks in the fridge. 
  • In the freezer – transfer your pesto to a freezer container and freeze. Some people like to scoop a couple of tablespoons into an ice cube tray, freeze, and then store the pesto cubes in a ziplock bag. If you do it this way, you can thaw one block at a time. Cilantro pesto should last in the freezer for at least a year.   

How to Serve Cilantro Pesto…

  • As a spread – we often spread it on homemade bread, or on crackers. Add a slice of homemade feta cheese or raw milk goat cheese on top of it, a slice of tomato and you have yourself the best breakfast ever. 
  • As a pizza topping – I often use it to make pesto pizza. Make your own pizza dough, spread the pesto on it instead of tomato sauce, crumble your favorite cheese on it, and add your toppings. Then bake to perfection and enjoy. I venture out and say that I’ll take this kind of pizza over any tomato pizza any day!
  • As sauce – cilantro pesto goes really well with almost any fish dish. If you fry your fish, add it on top when serving as a sauce. If you bake your fish, spread it on your fish before placing it in the oven. 
  • As pasta sauce – another idea is using it as a pasta sauce. You can add it as seasonings to an alfredo sauce to make something like an alfredo pesto sauce or just use it right on top of pasta as it is. Seasoning a cold pasta salad with it is another idea. 
cilantro pesto in a glass serving dish

Frequently Asked Questions…

What other nuts I can use?

I love using almonds in my pesto recipes simply because almonds are affordable and delicious. However, feel free to use any kind of nuts. Pine nuts will work well (here is a recipe with toasted pine nuts), walnuts work too, and cashews can work… Try something different each time. You can also mix a couple of different kinds of nuts.

Can I replace the parmesan with another cheese?

Sometimes I replace the parmesan with Asiago cheese. Any hard cheese should work.

Does cilantro pesto oxidize?

No, it doesn’t. Cilantro pesto doesn’t oxidize like basil pesto. Even when you leave it exposed to air it stays green and doesn’t turn brown.

Can I double or triple this recipe?

Definitely! This recipe makes about one cup of pesto. Feel free to double or triple it if your food processor is large and strong enough to handle it.


This recipe is simple and quick! I love that it also allows a little bit of creativity. Try different nuts or a different kind of cheese each time. Maybe try to season it a bit differently each time. You can try adding cumin or, if you like heat, maybe a pinch of dry cayenne pepper. Make it your own and experiment and find your favorite way of using this goodness. I sure hope that you’d give it a try!

More Delicious Recipes…

Cilantro Pesto Recipe

Cilantro Pesto Recipe

Yield: One cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

This cilantro pesto recipe is simple, healthy, and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of cilantro leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided

Instructions

  1. Step one - Add the cilantro, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, almond flour, and half of the amount of the olive oil (about 1/4 cup) to the food processor. Turn the food processor on and as it’s working add the rest of the oil. Let it work until all the ingredients are processed into a paste.
  2. Step two - Stop the food processor and open the lid. With a spoon, scrape the sides and bottom of the food processor. This is a great time to taste your pesto and correct seasonings, it is also a great time to measure the consistency of the pesto. Close the food processor and turn it on again. If you feel like your pesto is too thick, this is the time to add a little bit more oil. 
  3. Step three - Transfer the pesto to a container and store in the fridge for a few weeks or in the freezer for up to 18 months.

Notes

Ingredients Notes -

Garlic - feel free to use more than two cloves.

Cheese - parmesan cheese is the traditional cheese that is most often used when making pesto, however, if there is another kind of cheese with similar consistency (hard and dry), you can use it instead of parmesan. Just make sure to grate it before adding to the food processor. 

Seasonings - feel free to add more or less salt and black pepper to your taste. You can also try adding cumin or cayenne pepper if you’d like to add heat. Or try other seasonings. Really, anything goes.

Nuts - most pesto recipes call for pine nuts, however, they are a bit expensive so I like replacing them with almonds. Almond flour is easy to use. You can also use whole or chopped almonds or walnuts. 

Olive oil - use the best you can put your hands on! 

Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 125Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 155mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g

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2 thoughts on “Easy Cilantro Pesto Recipe”

  1. Thank you so much for your beautiful, tasteful recipes that you provide.
    I always look forward to reading and trying them. You provide great information using simple things that i usually have at home without going out to purchase them. I would like to know more about fermenting different foods.
    Thanks again
    Gladys

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Gladys! I’ll post a few links to fermented foods on Facebook in the next few days for you.

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