Chimichurri sauce is a bright, zippy and delicious “fresh sauce” that’s absolutely scrumptious spooned atop of grilled steak, chicken, fish, or even vegetables. Very simple to prepare, with just a couple handfuls of finely chopped fresh herbs such as parsley and oregano, plus garlic, minced red chili, red wine vinegar and good olive oil, this flavorful staple is terrific to have on hand to jazz up your favorite meals!
Chimichurri Sauce, a Zesty and Vibrant South American Staple
For me, chimichurri sauce is one of those delectable condiments that I could enjoy on just about anything that’s savory.
Because I’m extremely partial to herby, tangy, garlicky and spicy notes, chimichurri sauce is right up my alley.
It’s prepared with a base of fresh parsley and some oregano, plus copious amounts of garlic, some kick from red chili pepper, some bright tang from red wine vinegar, and some good olive oil to round things out.
Chimichurri sauce is an exquisite accompaniment to a delicious medium-rare steak, a grilled piece of chicken, crispy baked chicken wings, or some flaky fish.
Actually, I even love to dip fresh, warm bread into a little ramekin of it and enjoy it as a tasty bread oil as well!
The possibilities are endless with a homemade chimichurri sauce, and my easy recipe makes it a terrific accompaniment to whip up and have on hand when grilling season starts up, to spoon over top of your favorite meats and seafood (even veggies!) giving things an added kick of vibrant and zesty flavor!
What is Chimichurri Sauce, and How to Make It
Chimichurri sauce has its roots in the South American Countries of Argentina and Uruguay.
It’s basically a “fresh sauce”, one that is not cooked but rather mixed together using fresh, raw ingredients.
While there are a number of variations when it comes to making chimichurri sauce (it’s often prepared according to one’s personal tastes and is not necessarily a “hard set” recipe, per se), there are some basic ingredients that are used when making a more classic version.
In the past, I’ve incorporated some cilantro into my chimichurri because I love the flavor of it, but with this particular recipe I’m sticking to the two herbs commonly used in the more traditional version: lots of parsley and some oregano.
Since there’s a slight kick or spicy note in chimichurri sauce, you can achieve that a couple of different ways: you can use either a finely minced red chili (or half of one, if super spicy), or use dried red chili pepper flakes. I love both options, so I actually use a hint of each—the fresh red chili for color and kick, and the red pepper flakes for a slightly smokier note, the choice is yours.
The amounts of garlic vary from recipe to recipe as well, ranging from a couple of cloves to a whole head. While a whole head of garlic would be a bit too much even for a garlic lover like myself, I do still opt for generous amount of cloves for more pungent flavor.
As far as the tangy note goes, red wine vinegar is the classic vinegar used in chimichurri. You could sub some lemon or lime juice, but red wine vinegar is best because of its deeper flavor. (Stay away from sweet vinegars such as balsamic or champagne, or even white vinegar—the flavor will be too sharp.)
The beauty of a chimichurri sauce is that it’s so quick and easy to put together. All you do is chop your herbs finely, add all of the ingredients to a bowl, and mix together until blended!
Here’s a peek at my chimichurri sauce recipe: (or you can just jump to the full recipe…)
- To begin, I chop my fresh parsley and my oregano leaves very well, until quite fine, and add those to a bowl.
- Next, I add my garlic, minced red chili, pinch of red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar, and mix/blend with a fork; then, I drizzle in the olive oil, and mix that in until well blended and incorporated.
- To store, I keep in a covered container in the fridge so the sauce stays cold and fresh, and use as soon as possible for the freshest flavor. I keep any leftovers for up to 4 to 5 days, or until the sauce begins to lose color and vibrancy.
by Ingrid Beer
Cuisine: South American
Yield: 3/4 cup
Nutrition Info: 64 calories per 2 tablespoons
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
- 2 cups lightly packed flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup lightly packed oregano leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried), finely chopped
- 1/2 red chili pepper, cored and seeded, minced finely
- Small pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1/2 teaspoon (slightly heaping) sea salt
- Pinch black pepper
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Place the chopped parsley, oregano, minced red chili pepper, pinch of red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and pepper into a bowl, and add in the red wine vinegar; using a fork, gently mix to combine.
- Next, slowly pour the olive oil into the herb mixture, mixing with the fork to incorporate the oil, until well blended; taste to see if additional salt/pepper is needed, and either use immediately (best option), or keep in a covered container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
Tips & Tidbits for my Chimichurri Sauce:
- Chop rather than process: While a food processor seems like a quick and easy option, chopping the herbs by hand and stirring/combining ingredients in a bowl is the best way to go. The processor would turn things into too much of a “mush”, and make the sauce too pureed and mushy. With chimichurri, a bit of natural texture is good.
- Choice of spicy “kick”: While I like to use both a fresh red chili pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes in my chimichurri sauce for color and flavor, you can use either one or the other if you prefer. If you have crushed red pepper flakes on hand, use those. If you happen to have a fresh red chili, finely mince it and use that.
- Use your preferred amount of garlic: Because I’m a fan of garlic and like to actually taste it in my chimichurri, I use a fair amount in my recipe. If you prefer things a little more milder in flavor, feel free to use a clove or two less.
- Zippy, zingy note: Red wine vinegar has a great flavor, and is the preferred variety of vinegar to use when preparing traditional chimichurri sauce. However, you can substitute lemon or lime juice in a pinch. Avoid balsamic as it’s a bit too sweet and syrupy, as well as plain white vinegar, which can be too sharp and acidic.
- How to use chimichurri sauce: Traditionally, chimichurri sauce is spooned atop of freshly grilled steak, or even chicken, fish, shrimp, or veggies. I also love it as a bread dipping oil, dipping warm, crusty bread into a small ramekin of it. Use it as a topper to pretty much anything you’d like to add some zesty kick to!