Spicy chimichurri sauce: first, what is chimichurri?
You probably know what chimichurri sauce is if (a) you’re from South America and/or (b) you’ve ever been to a South American Churrascaria. (For example, those Brazilian steakhouses with gauchos serving selections of sword-skewered meats and carving them tableside with scary looking knives). My local churrascaria has an enormous vat of chimichurri sauce that guests ladle out into ramekins.
Chimichurri sauce is no-cook: you simply blend the ingredients in a food processor. (Caveat: for my spicy chimichurri sauce recipe, I do add roasted garlic, which I keep in my refrigerator most of the time for just such an occasion!).
The basic chimichurri sauce recipe
Chimichurri sauce is very much like pesto in that it contains bright, fresh herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Also like pest0, there are a gazillion variations on the basic chimichurri recipe. The most simple version involves only parsley, olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, garlic or shallot, and S&P. Most recipes add oregano, and many crushed red pepper.
I blitz these ingredients thoroughly in a food processor. Then the sauce is good to go as a condiment for meats and fish, as a marinade, or even as a salad dressing. It’s amazingly easy to make, but don’t let that fool you: it’s delicious.
Making spicy chimichurri sauce
As with pesto, I always make my spicy chimichurri sauce recipe in the fall. Usually at this point, I’ve enjoyed a summer’s worth of fresh herbs from the garden but need to rescue the remaining herbs from the frost. I make extra to keep in the freezer for a nice, bright reminder of what summer is like.
For my spicy chimichurri sauce, I like a mix of about 3 parts parsley : 1 part cilantro : 1/2 part oregano. Instead of crushed red pepper, I use two seeded jalapeños. Then I add in several cloves of roasted garlic. I also prefer the tang of rice vinegar, but you can use the more traditional red wine vinegar if you’d prefer.
By the time Fall hits, I am usually dealing with a veritable bush of parsley, so I blend the ingredients for spicy chimichurri sauce in batches and mix them together later. Then I portion them out into ice cube trays or small-portion freezer containers.
About the roasted garlic…
Roasted garlic is a wonderful thing to have on hand. I take an entire head of garlic, make a clean slice across the root end to reveal the cloves, and set the head of garlic cut-side down onto some foil coated with olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Then I wrap the foil up over the garlic head and give it a twist (so it looks like a giant Hershey’s kiss) and roast it at 350º until fragrant (15–20 minutes). I keep the roasted garlic in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. I love adding it to sauces, using it to make garlic toast, and mixing it with mashed potatoes. And, of course, it’s fantastic in spicy chimichurri sauce.
To blend or not to blend…
Authentic chimichurri sauce is not a smooth, pesto-like sauce. Traditionallly, the herbs are processed into a coarse paste and then the olive oil is poured over the top. I like it both ways (although I have to admit that the fully blended sauce is really, really pretty!), so I leave that choice up to you.
Freezing the sauce…
Small-portion freezer containers or bags are perfect for freezing your spicy chimichurri sauce. However, my personal preference is to freeze portions of the sauce in an ice cube tray, then pop them out after they’re frozen and put them in freezer bags. I wrap each cube with plastic wrap first to prevent freezer burn.
Then it’s a simple matter of popping out a portion or two of the spicy chimichurri sauce to eat over your favorite grilled meat. For example, I’ve done that here with a tri-tip roast that I grilled and then sliced into steaks (check out my recipe for Grilled Tri-Tip Steak with Chimichurri Sauce!).
That’s it! A sauce to deliciously brighten your grilled meats. I hope you love it!
I’m linking my Spicy Chimichurri Sauce recipe up with:
- #CookBlogShare, a great food blogger recipe-share at Recipes Made Easy.
- #CookOnceEatTwice, for recipes that are just as good left-over as they are when you made them, hosted by Searching for Spice.
- #BrillBlogPosts, a link party with a variety of lifestyle reads hosted by Honest Mum.
Spicy Chimichurri Sauce is a verdant condiment that’s perfect on steak, chicken, and fish. It's also great as a marinade, a salad dressing, or a garnish on soups and stews. This version makes extra for storing in the freezer.
- 4 cups flat leaf parsley fresh, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cups rice vinegar
- 12 roasted garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup oregano leaves fresh, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves fresh, coarsely chopped
- 2 jalapeño peppers seeded
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 2 cups olive oil extra virgin
Combine the first 8 ingredients (through black pepper) in a food processor and blend until smooth. Drizzle the olive oil through the lid of your food processor or blender and pulse until smooth (see Recipe Notes #1 and #2).
Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate up to 2 days.
- If your food processor can't handle such large amounts, divide the ingredients into smaller batches to blend and mix together later.
- Alternatively, pour the olive oil over the top of the herb mixture in a mixing bowl.
Related tools on Sur La Table (affiliate)
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