This quick and easy cilantro pesto recipe is the perfect way to use any extra cilantro you have in the fridge. Serve it on grilled meats, pastas, meatballs, sandwiches, mixed into soups and anything that needs a fresh and herbaceous pop of flavor!
We’re big fans of cilantro here on Isabel Eats. We use it in so many different dishes to add a fresh, herbaceous, and citrus-like flavor that makes food pop!
However, many recipes only ask for a few tablespoons of fresh cilantro or less, leaving you with a bunch of cilantro in the fridge that you need to use quickly. So what to do with all that leftover cilantro?
Make cilantro pesto!
What is Cilantro Pesto?
Made from fresh cilantro, cotija cheese, slivered almonds, red onions, garlic, olive oil and lime juice, this pesto sauce is the perfect topping for just about everything from grilled meats, seafood, as a sandwich spread, and mixed into pasta.
It has the perfect amount of acidty, saltiness, creaminess and is hands down one of the most addicting sauces I’ve ever made!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- sliced almonds
- cotija cheese
- olive oil
- lime juice
- red onion & garlic
- kosher salt and black pepper
How to Make Cilantro Pesto
To make cilantro pesto, simply add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse the mixture until a paste forms and it becomes mostly smooth.
There should still be little bits of cotija cheese throughout that aren’t totally blended.
When measuring the cilantro, there’s no need to remove the leaves from the stems. Simply remove and discard any extra long stems, and then loosely pack the cilantro into a measuring cup.
(Learn more about how to chop cilantro.)
Most ingredients in this pesto are easy to find, but just in case you don’t have a few of them on hand, here are some ingredient substitutions that may be helpful along the way.
- Don’t have cotija cheese? Use crumbled feta or shredded parmesan cheese instead. They both have a similar flavor and the perfect amount of saltiness like cotija cheese!
- Instead of sliced almonds, you can use pine nuts. Or if you have whole almonds, just give them a quick chop before measuring them out.
- Don’t have red onions? Use white onions instead, or you can completely leave them out. The pesto will still be delicious.
Storing and Freezing
The pesto should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.
It can also be frozen for 3-4 months in a freezer-safe container, or poured into an ice cube tray and frozen so you can quickly pop out a cube whenever you need it!
What to serve with Cilantro Pesto
- 3 cups loosely packed cilantro
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/3 cup cotija cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 1/2 limes)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse until mostly smooth.