Taco Tuesday is my jam and there’s little I like more (except maybe cheese) than a heavy dose of cilantro to go with my tacos. I used to just chop it up or incorporate it into my pico de gallo, but then I started making this cilantro sauce — it’s life-changing, friends.
I can make this delicious sauce ahead of time so that when it comes time for taco nights (or leftovers-night) it’s ready to just drizzle over my Mexican-inspired meal. It makes for easy dinners and I’m always excited for my favorite taco topping.
Since cilantro is the key ingredient in this sauce recipe, if you have a cilantro hater in the family you might not want to serve this. No judgment here — it’s actually proven by science that some people have a genetic predisposition to not enjoying the taste of cilantro.
So, if not everyone in your household (or gathering) are cilantro lovers, you could replace it with dill, thai basil, or parsley to still get that fresh flavor. Caraway and Mexican oregano are other alternatives.
Regardless, this is an easy recipe to make as a base and the best part is that you can customize it as you see fit or prefer!
Table of Contents
What is Cilantro Sauce?
This cilantro sauce recipe is an incredible way to use a fresh bunch of parsley, transforming it into an amazing topping for tacos or salads, or a dip for so many other options.
Since it’s mixed with oil and citrus, its flavors are able to come out and be spread more easily than if you just chopped it. It’s one of the most easy recipes while also bringing the best flavor to the table.
If you haven’t tried cilantro before, this is definitely the way to do it. It’s light, zesty, and refreshing but with that slightly herbal flavor, too.
The next time you’re putting together tacos (or salads, or fajitas, or any number of other dishes that benefit from brightness) consider making this stellar cilantro sauce.
How to Store Fresh Cilantro
The first key to ensuring that you have the best cilantro is to buy the freshest bunch at the grocery store. But if you’re not using it immediately, how do you keep it fresh?
The number one rule is to keep it in the refrigerator.
You can certainly store it in a ziploc bag or plastic airtight container. You can also keep it in an enclosed mason jar.
While those solutions will keep your cilantro fresh for potentially up to a week, you can keep it fresher longer. After rinsing, just put your cilantro in a jar filled with an inch of water, cover loosely with an unsealed plastic bag, and store them in the fridge for up to a few weeks.
- Cilantro – Make sure to use both the fresh cilantro leaves and the stems to get all of that full cilantro flavor.
- Avocado oil – You can use other oil, but avocado oil packs a health punch in this sauce, and the flavor is a unique addition.
- Garlic – Roughly chop the garlic so that you can still see it but so that it’s not so chunky that you get an unpleasant mouthful.
- Coarse Kosher salt – I prefer Kosher salt, but sea salt works too. Just be sure to use high quality salt — with so few ingredients, you want to use the best.
- Lime – Juicing and zesting the lime is recommended because fresh lime juice is always best, but if you’re in a hurry you can use store-bought lime juice. You can also substitute lemon juice.
- Water – The little bit of water adds a bit of viscosity to the sauce.
How to Use Cilantro Sauce
- Taco salad or burrito bowls – Whip up whatever proteins or veg you want and toss them over rice or greens with some pico de gallo before drizzling this sauce over top.
- Proteins – Use this sauce before cooking as a marinade, or afterwards to finish.
- Tortilla chips – Brush tortillas with this sauce prior to baking for flavorful tortilla chips.
- Rice or pasta – Toss cooked rice or pasta to create a tastier side dish.
- Salad – Use as a salad dressing for a green salad or replace your typical italian dressing with this for an upgraded pasta salad.
- Guacamole – Add this sauce to your avocado and other ingredients for an elevated guac.
- Dipping sauce – Grab some pita, freshly sliced (or ripped) tortillas, or even baguette slices and dip them in this sauce. Use as a started for a meal or alongside a cheese/charcuterie selection with the likes of manchego and chorizo.
- Dip – Mixing this with dairy is an easy way to whip a dip. Whether it’s a light dip with sour cream or yogurt, or a heavier spread when mixed with the likes of cream cheese, it’s guaranteed to please a crowd.
- Salsa – Use this to doctor up a bowl of store-bought salsa.
- Breakfast – Make the start to the day a little zestier by drizzling this over scrambled or fried eggs or even hashbrowns.
- Potatoes – Toss cubed breakfast potatoes in this, serve it as a fry sauce, or mix it into mashed potatoes.
Cilantro Sauce Variations
- Oils – Use any oil you like from olive oil or canola oil to grape seed or sesame oill. You can even herb or spice infused oils that you match the flavor profile you prefer.
- Garlic – You can make a deliciious cilantro garlic sauce using garlic powder or cloves of garlic. If you are adding a garlic clove, make sure to press it or mince it finely.
- Cream – To make a creamy cilantro sauce, simply add this to sour cream or Greek yogurt to taste. You can use an immersion blender to make sure all ingredients are completely incorporated.
- Onion – Experiment with onion powder, finely diced onions, or slivers of green onions or red onions that add color, too.
- Heat – For a very mild addition of heat try adding a bit of black pepper. For more, add crushed red pepper, cayenne, or even hot sauce.
Storage & Freezing
Store this sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Freezing oil-based sauces is not recommended.
Other Savory Sauces
Cilantro Sauce Recipe
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves and stems
- 1/3 cup avocado oil*
- 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 lime juiced and zested
- 1 tablespoon water
- Trim any brown ends from the cilantro and remove any wilted leaves.
- Add the cilantro, avocado oil, garlic, salt, lime juice and zest and water to a large food processor. Pulse until a coarse sauce forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl between pulses.
- Chill until ready to use.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.
For spicy cilantro sauce, add 1/2 of a seeded and roughly chopped jalapeno.
My cilantro-loving fiance would love this! Unfortunately, I am one of those people who think it tastes like soap, lol.
This cilantro sauce has absolutely changed our taco nights! Such great flavors and so easy to make!
Made this sauce to go in my halloumi burgers just now! Absolutely ridiculously delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
This was the perfect sauce to have for taco nights! My family was tired of the good ol’ pico de gallo and loved the cilantro sauce instead.
Added some jalapeno to this sauce and it was perfect in a taco!
Woohoo! Love that addition!