Cilantro Pesto in a mason jar

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Why I love this cilantro pesto

I think by now we have established that I love pesto. I really do. It’s so easy to make and to eat – seriously I could eat the whole pound of pasta by myself.

The only thing I don’t like about pesto is the cost of making it. I mean, unless you have a bountiful garden full of basil, you are going to spend some big bucks on basil and pine nuts.

But guess what isn’t expensive. Cilantro. It’s always under a dollar and the bunches are huge. Go to a farmers’ market and its even cheaper.

My mom came home with two bunches the other day for $2 and after cleaning and removing the stems, we had 8 cups of cilantro. 8 cups. What in the world is anyone supposed to do with 8 cups of cilantro?

Make pesto, of course. I divided up the cilantro and made 2 batches of this cilantro pesto and another 2 batches of my cilantro peanut pesto.

Cilantro Pesto ingredients in a food processor bowl

Here’s what you’ll need to make it

Ingredient notes:

You can use this pesto in so many different ways. You can swap cilantro pesto in any recipe calling for traditional basil pesto.

Toss it with some al dente pasta for a quick dinner.

Add pesto to a vinaigrette for a fresh salad dressing.

Use it as a marinade from grilled shrimp skewers.

Stir some into mayonnaise for a flavorful sandwich spread.

Cilantro Pesto in a food processor bowl

How to make cilantro pesto

To make cilantro pesto, you’ll need cilantro, slivered almonds, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt & pepper. You will need to wash your cilantro really well and remove the large stems.

I really only remove the super thick or woody ones, because I don’t like spending too much time with this step. Plus, it all gets blended up in the end anyway.

Then you’ll need to put all of the ingredients and blend in a food processor bowl. Keep blending until the pesto is almost smooth and it’s a consistent, bright green color. You may need to scrape the sides of your bowl as you go to make sure things aren’t getting stuck in the corners.

Cilantro Pesto in a mason jar

Can you freeze cilantro pesto?

This recipe makes about 1 cup of pesto sauce, which I think is more than enough for 1 pound of pasta, or any other recipe you might need it for. It should stay fresh in the fridge for about a week.

If you don’t use all of your pesto right away, or if you feel like making a couple batches at once, you can definitely freeze it for later. I like to freeze mine in 1/2 cup containers (leftover from making baby food) so I never have to thaw too much out. If I need a whole cup, I’ll just thaw two containers.

Cilantro Pesto in a mason jar with a spoon pulling some out

More pesto recipes you’ll love:

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Cilantro Pesto in a mason jar
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Cilantro Pesto

This inexpensive cilantro pesto made with almonds is a simple, easy way to use extra cilantro. It’s vegan, dairy free, and paleo approved.

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds (or 2/3 cup whole almonds)
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro, large stems removed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredient in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Blend until smooth, scraping sides as needed.
  3. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper, to taste.

Last Updated on October 15, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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Recipe rating

38 Comments

  1. 2 bunches for $2 !! What???? I bought cilantro the other day 6 bunches for 99 cents! That’s why I’m looking for cilantro recipes,I only used one bunch for making salsa. THis recipe sounds great,I’m going to double to recipe,freeze some,also making shrimp & pesto for dinner.

    1. You can try growing your own! I planted some and just one seed packet gave me tons of cilantro all summer…and it’s still going. The more you pick, the more it grows!

  2. I added a bit of jalapeno. I then marinated chicken breast (used about 2 Tablespoons with a little extra EVOO) Grilled it. OMG! Top 10 meals I have EVER made!!!
    We made 6 batches today. I hate cleaning my processor! I have a son going to college, he LOVES this. Easy meal to boil pasta and small amount of freezer space needed.

    1. This is how I clean my processor after making pesto.
      Add a slice of bread, the bread will soak up the pesto, become crumbs.. add a little melted butter and use as a topping for baked chicken
      Or add chicken breasts to processor.. it will mince then add other ingredients and turn into meatballs

      1. That’s a fantastic idea! I’ll have to try that next time I make this. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. After trimming my cilantro plants, I had this huge vase of cuttings on my counter so I went hunting for recipes. I looked at many recipes but this one caught my eye. I made this recipe exactly as stated except for using 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne powder instead of red pepper flakes. It’s really not at all too spicy. For me, I would add more heat, but hubby likes it mild. He loved this recipe. It was nice and thick. I stored in the freezer and used the rest for dinner over angel hair pasta. To get the consistency right and add some flavor, I used some Meyer Lemon infused olive oil and some of the pasta water so the pesto would mix nicely with the angel hair. The pasta water was mainly so the noodles would not clump together. This was a huge hit. Very delicious. The garlic seems to balance with the cilantro so neither strong flavor dominates the other. The almonds added an unexpected crunchy texture, too. What a great way to add in some protein. We will definitely make this again.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you liked it! I love the idea of using lemon olive oil. I have some in my pantry right now, so I have to try it!

  4. can u give me idea of recipe u made with the pesto … i just love cilantro and pesto so i will try for sure .. thank

    1. I usually just put it on pasta or chicken, but you could use it in any recipe that calls for pesto sauce. I add some to mayonnaise for sandwiches, too.

  5. This is the best pesto I have ever tasted. it is addictive… I cannot eat enough. It has become a regular in my refrigerator. keep up the good work…

    1. This recipe is not dairy free. When I published this recipe, we were not eating dairy free. But if you want to make this recipe dairy free, you just have to leave out the cheese. You could substitute it wish 2 more tablespoons almonds + 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast.

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  7. Great on beet spirals. Also tried it low FODMAP: saute garlic cloves in the olive oil then remove cloves and cool oil before processing.

  8. Great on beet spirals. Also tried it low FODMAP: saute garlic cloves in the olive oil then remove cloves and cool oil before processing.

  9. I live in a sleepy fishing village in Ecuador, and mistakenly ask for$1 of cilantro…oops, the shop keeper came back with a bag full! We use cilantro frequently down here but it would have spoiled before using all of the cilantro. Happily came across your recipe, simple, well rounded , the outcome of a well balanced recipe. Muchas gracias. Jody

  10. This recipe was perfect! I slathered it on a fillet of pan fried Atlantic Salmon. It was divine! Only change I made was using walnut oil in place of olive oil. It’ll be my go to recipe for Coriander Pesto. Thank you from Australia!