Chimichurri – Argentine Parsley Sauce – Recipe

Chimichurri Sauce, Served with Polenta and Tostones
Chimichurri sauce served with polenta and tostones

Chimichurri (also spelled chimmichurri) is the quintessential sauce of Argentina, and deserves to be better known in the northerly climes. It is somewhat like an Italian pesto, but made from parsley, and without the cheese or nuts to thicken it. Like pesto, it comes together in a food processor with just a few minutes of work.

In South America, chimichurri is usually served with steak, but you can definitely make a home for it in a vegetarian kitchen as well. It has a strong, herbaceous bite that pairs well with the smokiness of grilled vegetables, cuts the richness of fried foods, or amps up the flavor of a mild dish.

In the picture above, you can see I served the chimichurri with mild Argentinian polenta, rich little tostones (twice-fried plantain) and avocado.

Generally speaking, the essential ingredients of a chimichurri recipe are parsley, olive oil, garlic, onion, salt and pepper and something acidic. I chose to embellish this version by including cilantro, red onion, a bit of sherry vinegar, and a few capers. Other common variations add chili flakes, paprika, or dried oregano. Once you establish the basic flavor profile, there is plenty of room to tweak it to match your taste and what you are serving it with. (I apologize in advance to any chimichurri purists who feel that such variations are heresy, and remind you that the recipe isn’t 100% standardized even in its homelands!)

Chimichurri – Argentine Parsley Sauce – Recipe
Recipe Type: Sauce; vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Author: Michael Natkin
Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 2/3 cup
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped fine or pressed
  • 1 cup well-rinsed parsley leaves, lightly packed
  • 1 cup well-rinsed cilantro leaves, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced (or add to food processor before herbs)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  1. In a small food processor, combine the olive oil and garlic and run until the garlic is well distributed. If you don’t feel like mincing the onion by hand, you can add it in chunks now, but it won’t look as nice. If you don’t have a small food processor, you might need to make a double batch as a full size machine probably won’t work well on this small quantity.
  2. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, pepper and vinegar and process until minced but with still a bit of texture left in the leaves.
  3. Remove from the food processor and mix in the onions and capers.
  4. Let rest at least 30 minutes, then taste and adjust salt, pepper and vinegar as needed.
Print Friendly and PDF
Posted by Michael Natkin on Thursday, February 12th, 2009 in Favorites, Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Sauces and Condiments, Vegan or Modifiable.

21 Responses to “Chimichurri – Argentine Parsley Sauce – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    February 13, 2009 at 2:44 am #

    Had never heard of chimichurri until yesterday and now this is the second post I’ve seen mentioning it! I’ll definitely be bookmarking this one.

  2. Reply
    February 13, 2009 at 6:50 am #

    Beautiful plate. I love the idea of chimichurri with polenta, and those tostones look fantastic.

  3. Reply
    February 13, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    We had chimichurri with roasted vegetables on our recent trip to Argentina. Funnily, that was the only time I had chimichurri in the country, and I had to specifically ask for it! I guess because chimichurri is typically served with meat, my vegetarian orders never came with chimichurri.

    I love the intensity of the ingredients here, I bet it tasted great with polenta. Youve created a beautiful plate here.

  4. Reply
    February 13, 2009 at 11:37 am #

    Great photo! We had some Argentine neighbors when I was growing up and they would always add a bunch of fresh oregano to their chimichurri sauce.

  5. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    February 15, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    Isn’t that kind of coincidence odd? Clearly you are meant to make some soon.

  6. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    February 15, 2009 at 9:20 am #

    That sounds really good. I like the resinous quality of fresh oregano, it is
    totally different from the dried stuff.

  7. Reply
    February 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    That looks and sounds absolutely delicious!! The sherry vinegar, makes it sound extra enticing – gotta have a kick!

  8. Reply
    February 17, 2009 at 2:03 am #

    Ooo, what a lovely vegan option for a pesto-style thing…thanks for the link!!

  9. Reply
    February 17, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

    I heard on NPR that chimichurri is supposed to be one of the top five flavors of 2009–way to have your finger on the pulse of food culture!

  10. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    February 17, 2009 at 9:00 pm #

    Nice, for once I’m ahead of the curve :).

  11. Reply
    March 26, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    I just got back from a trip to Argentina where I spent a fair bit of time trying to come up with good veggie options that could effectively stand up to chimichurri. I’d often request it along side my pizza, which made a pretty delicious combination, but I think polenta might be an even better idea now that I’m back to my own kitchen. Good thinkin!

  12. Reply
    January 6, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Yum! I was just looking for a chimichurri recipe and this looks great. I had one once that seemed to have a sweet-hot flavor as well. Have you ever added sugar?

  13. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    January 6, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    < !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
    @Otehlia I've never added sugar to chimichurri… I could see where a very small amount might be good. Sweet/hot would be quite different, I'd have to think about that one!

  14. Reply
    February 8, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    While it’s probably not a true chimichurri, there’s a vendor at my local farmer’s market who sells a “pesto” made without nuts and cheese. Olive oil, parsley, garlic, and chopped serrano chilis. I swear it’s the most delicious thing ever… the heat of the chilis is a surprise because you don’t expect it.

  15. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    February 8, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    Sounds like chimichurri to me! Delicious stuff.

  16. Reply
    February 8, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    Yeah, that’s what I thought. Oddly enough, it’s a middle Eastern vendor who sells this, too. Which kinda cracks me up.

    They also do olives in the chimichurri… different types of olives mixed in with the sauce. Since the olives are whole, it’s hard to eat them but ever so easy to pick out the olives and snack on them, and spread the remaining sauce on bread.

  17. Reply
    July 8, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    I’ve had a really hard time figuring out how to fit chimmi churri in with vegetarian dishes. I started making it when we were still eating meat and it pairs so well with beef. The polenta idea looks good, any other suggestions on vegetarian dishes that can stand up to the flavor?

    • Reply
      July 8, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

      I think it pairs well with grilled and fried foods, like these zucchini blossoms: link to, or when you want to spice up a more neutral dish like these quinoa cakes: link to . It is a powerful flavor, so I’d avoid using it with something that has a subtle flavor that you don’t want to obliterate.

  18. Reply
    November 16, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    In Argentina they never use cilantro or capers. This is an alteration from Bobby Flay I think. Cilantro is not indigenous to Argentina. And while I will sometimes chop it in a food processor, I never add the oil until everything is chopped and in my vessel or jar. And in Argentina it is very garlicky so add half a head of garlic instead of 1 clove. Onion is optional! My mother in law would not be caught dead putting onion in her chimichurri. But an Aunt puts a small amount in. Everyone adds crushed red pepper flakes and fresh oregano is common but I don’t use it.

  19. Reply
    April 23, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    Superb Recipe,
    This looks just beautiful!

  20. Reply
    October 1, 2015 at 10:06 am #

    My mother-in – law who is Italian used to make a similar sauce, but added chopped red pepper and a little anchovies in it and it was served with meat. Very delicious.
    However I make it often just like your recipe and we love it so much. Great on grilled bread and many other uses for it. It’s always in my refrigerator. Try mixing in Basil and spread on roasted tomatoes or re peppers on mozzeral. So may things can be made with this. Enhoy

Leave a Reply