Cilantro Pesto Recipe

There's no better sauce or dressing than one that is homemade. This delicious cilantro pesto is truly the jack-of-all-trades, and you can use it for a variety of different dishes. From salad dressing to a sandwich spread to a flavorful sauce for chicken or pasta, it's super versatile and super delicious. In our humble opinion, there's nothing better than cilantro and pesto, and when you combine the two together, it's a match made in heaven. Plus, it's a nice twist from the usual traditional pesto made from basil.

Recipe developer Susan Olayinka of the Flexible Fridge came up with this incredible recipe that is sure to be a hit at your next shindig. When asked her favorite part about this recipe, her answer proved to be short and sweet. "That it's a change from basil!" Olayinka proclaims. This recipe makes a half a cup of cilantro pesto but don't be fooled ... it's a ton of flavor packed into one tiny dish. Of course, it's also very easy to double or even triple the recipe. We always say, the more, the merrier and we mean that in every sense of the word! 

Keep reading to find out how to make this amazing dressing. 

Gather the ingredients

Once you have committed to making this dish, a trip to the store is in order. Start by grabbing a cart and rolling through the aisles. Your first stop should be in the produce section, where you need to get some fresh cilantro, garlic cloves, and a lemon. You will also need extra-virgin olive oil, which you may have at home already.

In addition, pick up some pine nuts. You will also need some salt and pepper because what recipe is complete without it? Last but not least, grab some grated Parmesan cheese.

Destem the cilantro and mince the garlic

Now that you have all of the ingredients before you, it's time to get this cooking party started. Luckily, this recipe is super simple and doesn't require a lot of time to put together. Start by grabbing the cilantro and giving it a good wash. Pat the leaves dry and then pick off the leaves from the stems and place them in a separate bowl. For this particular recipe, we just want to specifically use the leaves and no stems. 

Then, grab a cutting board and peel and mince the garlic. Set it to the side and move onto the next step.

Toast the pine nuts

This recipe requires just a little bit of cooking, but it's very simple and takes just 1 minute, to be exact. Grab a pan and your pine nuts. Then, put the pan on the stove and fire the heat up to medium-high. Toast the pine nuts for about 1 minute or so. You don't really need to set a timer for such a short time but rather just keep an eye on the clock. Olayinka notes that the pine nuts "should be browned" — be careful not to burn them! 

Once the minute is up, remove the pine nuts from heat and set them aside.

Blend the ingredients

Now, grab the blender and place it in a safe spot on your counter. "Yes, [a] food processor is fine," Olayinka says if you don't have a blender. Open the lid and add in almost all of your ingredients. Start with the extra-virgin olive oil and the toasted pine nuts. Next, toss in the juice of half the lemon, followed by the salt and pepper. You can also add the minced garlic in addition to the Parmesan cheese.

Blend the mixture on the lowest setting for about 15 seconds. It should be pretty well combined but there is still one more thing that you need to add. 

Add the cilantro and enjoy

Now, grab the cilantro you set aside earlier and toss it in the blender with the pine nut mixture. Blend everything for about 15 seconds until the mixture gets nice and smooth. Then, pour the cilantro pesto into a bowl or jar so that it's ready to serve! 

This delicious twist on traditional pesto literally goes well on almost everything. "Pasta, salad, dip!" Olayinka shares. Whichever way you serve it, you're bound to love it.

We know that the pesto will go fast but if you have any leftovers, you can save to enjoy them later. They will last for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. We hope you loved this versatile recipe as much as we do! 

Cilantro Pesto Recipe
5 from 129 ratings
This delicious cilantro pesto is truly the jack-of-all-trades, and you can use it for a variety of different dishes.
Prep Time
Cook Time
cilantro in a bowl
Total time: 11 minutes
  • 2 cups of cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ a lemon, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems and set the leaves aside.
  2. Peel and mince the garlic.
  3. Toast the pine nuts for 1 minute on medium-high heat until browned and set aside.
  4. Into a blender, add the olive oil, pine nuts, lemon juice, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and Parmesan cheese.
  5. Blend on the lowest setting for 15 seconds.
  6. Place the cilantro inside the blender until smooth, about 15 seconds.
  7. Transfer the cilantro pesto to a bowl or jar and serve as desired.
Calories per Serving 339
Total Fat 35.2 g
Saturated Fat 5.7 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 6.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 3.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.8 g
Total Sugars 0.6 g
Sodium 143.4 mg
Protein 4.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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