Cilantro Pesto

This cilantro pesto is a simple, easy way to use extra cilantro. It’s vegan, dairy free, and paleo approved. Use it wherever you would traditional pesto. It’s a cilantro lover’s dream. Makes 1 cup.

Cilantro Pesto in a mason jar

What can you do with cilantro?

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

How do you make cilantro (coriander) 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 food processor bowl

What can you make with cilantro pesto?

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


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

If you’re a fan of this pesto, you’ll probably like these too:
Cilantro Pesto in a mason jar

Cilantro Pesto

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


  • 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)


  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.

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  • Reply
    Spinach, Macadamia Nut and Basil Pesto | MoBitesFood
    October 9, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    […] A Teaspoon of Happiness, Cilantro Pesto […]

  • Reply
    January 20, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Delicious! Thanks for posting this!

  • Reply
    The Telegram | Betty Dish
    February 18, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    […] something to add to pasta instead of the regular tomato sauce and I found this recipe on the blog, A Teaspoon of Happiness. I made mine without the cheese and just sprinkled it on afterwards (so it would last in the fridge […]

  • Reply
    April 25, 2014 at 3:04 am

    I was looking for a way to incorporate more of cilantro s super nutrition ….this is delicious

  • Reply
    LaWanda Dean
    May 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      joan mcnary
      March 21, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    August 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    This recipe is wonderful! I liked it even better than my basil pesto!

  • Reply
    Cathy E
    August 15, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      July 29, 2017 at 12:29 am

      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

      • Reply
        Melissa Belanger
        July 29, 2017 at 8:29 pm

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

  • Reply
    September 15, 2014 at 7:17 am

    How long will it store in the refrigerator?

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      September 15, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      It should stay fresh for about a week!

    • Reply
      jack burton
      June 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      I freeze mine in ice cube trays and store in a freezer bag. lasts for months.

      • Reply
        Melissa Belanger
        June 24, 2017 at 12:11 am

        Great idea!

  • Reply
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    February 15, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      February 16, 2016 at 11:47 am

      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!

  • Reply
    Marie Josée Morin
    September 20, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    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

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      September 20, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    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…

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      February 1, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks!! I’m happy to hear that you like it so much.

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    […] Cilantro Pesto […]

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    July 29, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    i’m a little confused as to how this is dairy free.

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      July 29, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      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.

      • Reply
        July 29, 2017 at 9:55 pm

        Ok, thanks! 🙂

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Grilled Cilantro Pesto Shrimp Skewers - Simply Whisked
    July 18, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    […] love it. All you have to do is whip up some cilantro pesto marinade – adapted from my normal cilantro pesto with a little extra lemon and a little less oil – and let the shrimp sit in that while […]

  • Reply
    Tricia Fossum
    April 27, 2019 at 6:25 pm

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

  • Reply
    April 27, 2019 at 6:26 pm

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

  • Reply
    June 20, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    I wonder if you could combine cilantro pesto and home made tomato sauce: equal portions?

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