Homemade Cilantro Pesto Recipe
Cilantro Pesto with Pine Nuts & Parmesan
How to Make Homemade Pesto with Cilantro, Parsley or Basil
Whip up this deliciously easy cilantro pesto recipe with pine nuts and parmesan in just 5 minutes! Fragrant, savory, and oh-so-tasty served on your favorite proteins, pastas, breads, and salads. Learn how to make homemade pesto with cilantro (or basil or parsley if preferred).
The name pesto comes from the Italian word pestare and the Genoese word pestâ, which means “to pound” or “to crush.” That’s because, originally, pesto was made by pounding or crushing the ingredients in a mortar with a pestle. The most popular pesto is pesto alla genovese made with basil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan, but you can use other herbs, too!
The traditional basil pesto isn’t the only way to enjoy this salty, herbaceous, cheesy sauce. Personally, I love the refreshing, citrusy flavor of cilantro, so I decided to make my own cilantro pesto recipe. It’s just as tasty and versatile as any classic homemade pesto, but made with fresh cilantro used instead of basil. Parsley, kale, spinach—you could use any of these to make pesto as well!
What can I make with a lot of cilantro?
If you have a bunch of cilantro (or other herbs) in the fridge, there are tons of ways to use it! Of course, this homemade pesto recipe is a great way to use up fresh cilantro, parsley, or basil. You can also use those herbs to make other dips, like a 4 ingredient guacamole or one of my unique hummus flavors. Or, add fresh cilantro on top of vegan tacos, air fryer fish tacos, or your favorite tacos!
How to Make Cilantro Pesto at Home
- Finely mince cilantro, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor. (Or, use basil, parsley, kale, or spinach instead of cilantro! Avoid more robust herbs like thyme or rosemary.)
- Process until smooth while slowly pouring in extra-virgin olive oil.
- Add parmesan, salt, and pepper and process just until integrated.
- Transfer to a jar to store or serve immediately.
How do you preserve cilantro pesto?
To preserve cilantro pesto and prevent it from turning brown, transfer to a jar and add a layer of olive oil on top before sealing with the lid. Personally, I think homemade pesto tastes best after sitting for a day, so it’s great to prep ahead of time! Store in the fridge for up to a week, and just give it a stir before serving.
Can you freeze homemade pesto?
Yes, you can freeze homemade pesto for up to 6 months with the help of an ice cube tray! Simply fill the tray ~⅔ full with your pesto and freeze for 24 hours. Then, transfer the frozen cubes into airtight containers or freezer-safe bags to store in the freezer. To use frozen pesto, simply remove a few cubes from the freezer, let them thaw, and use in recipes as desired!
What to Serve with Cilantro Pesto
- Pan seared salmon filets
- Flat iron steak tacos
- Pesto turkey meatballs
- Gluten free pasta salad
- Freezer lunch sandwiches
To see how this cilantro pesto recipe is made, watch my 15 Minute Pan Seared Salmon Dinners video!
Homemade Cilantro Pesto Recipe
- 2 cups fresh cilantro*, packed, no stems
- ¼ cup pine nuts, (or walnuts or almonds)
- 2-4 cloves garlic, to taste
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
- ⅛ tsp salt
- pepper, to taste
- Add cilantro, pine nuts, and garlic cloves to a food processor and pulse until finely minced.
- Once minced, let the machine run and slowly pour in extra-virgin olive oil, continuing to process until smooth.
- Add grated parmesan, salt, and pepper and continue to process just until integrated, seasoning to taste.
- Transfer to a jar with a lid to store. (Add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil on top of pesto before sealing with the lid—this will help to keep it from oxidizing and turning brown.)
- Store in the fridge for 1 week or freeze for 6 months!
- Yields 1¼ cups homemade pesto.
- Scoop pesto into an ice cube tray (~⅔ full) and freeze.
- Once frozen, transfer cubes to airtight containers or freezer-safe bags to store for up to 6 months.
- When ready to use, remove desired pesto cubes from freezer, allow to thaw, and use in meals and recipes as desired.