Cilantro and Green Chili Pesto

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Convenience food for cilantro lovers

Fresh cilantro seems to have a short shelf-life in my refrigerator. I usually buy it for one recipe with high hopes to use it in many others. But before long, it turns dark and is better suited for an over-the-hill party than my dinner table.

Transforming a bunch of cilantro leaves into pesto is my best solution. It will keep in the refrigerator several days and the freezer for several months. I freeze it in a zippered plastic bag mashed flat so it’s easy to break off or shape it into little patties that defrost quickly.

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Basmati rice flavored with a spoonful of Cilantro and Green Chili Pesto

Add this concentrated cilantro flavor to a bowl of rice or pasta.  Stir it into Greek yogurt for a delicious dip or salad dressing.  Spread it over a raw pizza crust, sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese and some pre-cooked fajita chicken for a quick pizza that’s one of my favorites.


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Cilantro and Green Chili Pesto
Recipe type: Condiment
Serves: 1 cup
Prep time:
Total time:
Convenience food for cilantro lovers
  • 4 ounces fresh cilantro (2 bunches) with large stems trimmed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ⅔ cup toasted almonds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup green chilies
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  1. Add cleaned and dried cilantro, olive oil, almonds, green chilies, and jalapeno to bowl of food processor or blender. Pulse and process until fairly smooth.
  2. Add Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Freezes well. Place in 1-quart plastic freezer bag, seal and mash flat which makes it easy to break off a piece as needed, even when frozen.


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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Chrystalyn February 25, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Thank you so much for such a quick response! Dinner here we come.


Chrystalyn February 24, 2013 at 10:25 pm

I know you posted this a long time ago, but I’m hoping you will be able to respond still. What do you mean by green chiles? Is it the canned green chilies or a type of fresh chili? My daughter is on an anti-candida diet and she can have everything but the cheese. So excited!!


Paula February 25, 2013 at 7:08 am

Hi Chrystalyn,
You can use either fresh or canned green chilies. I normally use the canned because the fresh aren’t easily available where I live.


Eileen November 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm

This is absolutely the most fantastic idea! It took minutes to make…and I can’t stop tasting it. Delicious and worth the effort. Thanks so much!


almostveg September 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm

We make a cheeseless version in India with cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and lemon juice and sometimes roasted peanuts are added for bulk. Great for tea sandwiches with cucumber and thinly sliced tomatoes without seeds.

Also, super as a spread for grilled tofu.


Paula September 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Your version sounds a bit healthier. Peanuts would be interesting too. Thanks for writing.


Vicky Knee July 25, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I’m a cilantro lover as well but although I would add it to a lot of things that don’t call for it in recipies, my hubby isn’t quite as enthusiastic. Can I do this recipe without the peppers and add those on the fly when I use the pesto? (in a small Newfoundland community and they’re not always readily available). Will definitely be bookmarking this site for future visits!


Paula July 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Vicky, Of course, you can leave the peppers out. No harm done whatsoever. Thanks for writing.


Paula Walters July 6, 2011 at 7:18 pm

This is perfect! Now with the garden thriving, I can make great use of the cilantro and peppers to make this delicious pesto. Love that it can be frozen….


Sharon June 27, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Me again! I am using this on everything! From BLT’s to wraps to scrambled eggs. It is soooo good. What a great recipe! Thanks again!


Jacque Charwood June 27, 2011 at 9:31 am


I just found your blog thru a forum and I must say…. I think I may have my first blogger crush! I LOVE this site!!!!!


Paula June 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Thanks for your kind words Jacque. Welcome!


Mommas Soapbox June 25, 2011 at 7:43 pm

I’m trying to not slobber all over my keyboard. My mouth is HONESTLY watering.

You had meat Cilantro…I’m sotrying this and giving this recipe to my sister! She has some cilantro growing in her back yard she will love this!!

Oh ya baby! =) I’m hungry…..(shock)

Ciao Bella~


Cheri June 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm

This pesto combines some of my favorites. I will be trying this soon! Glad to have found your blog!


Betty @ scrambled hen fruit June 24, 2011 at 7:39 am

What a brilliant idea! I can’t tell you the number of bunches of “past its prime” cilantro I’ve thrown to the chickens. (But hey, they enjoyed it!) I have one last lonely package of Hatch chiles that I froze last summer, and a fresh bunch of cilantro. Serendipity?


Karen June 24, 2011 at 7:34 am

Cilantro is not my cup of tea despite having tried to like it over and over. But I bet this pesto would be equally delicious made with Thai basil or mint. 🙂


Piper@GotItCookIt June 24, 2011 at 6:18 am

Cilantro is my fave! I also love that you smash and freeze in ziploc bags, I do that too. I’v got some green chilies in the fridge that I need to use, now I just need cilantro. Also, if you have an Asian grocery store near you (lots in Seattle), the cilantro there is often 5 for $1(!!!) and the freshest around.


Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) June 24, 2011 at 12:07 am

Ok, I think it was meant to be that I popped onto your blog again to see what was new. I have a nearly whole bunch of cilantro in the fridge (only needed 2T for the recipe that called for it!) AND some leftover steamed rice from dinner tonight. Guess what I’ll be making to use it all up? Looks delicious–thanks!


Suzanne June 24, 2011 at 12:03 am

This is right up my alley, we love cilantro and green chiles at my house. Great recipe and photos.


Sharon June 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Oh wow! It made up just beautiful…but now I don’t know what to do with it! LOL Can’t wait to try it in rice and in Greek yogurt…homemade of course! Yummo! Thanks again!


Chris June 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I love all things pesto….and cilantro. The green chiles addition is one I must try. Thanks!


The Café Sucré Farine June 23, 2011 at 11:29 am

I can’t wait to try this, Paula! I tried a cilantro pesto last summer and it was nasty! This sounds delish, I didn’t think of putting green chiles in but what a great idea! I can think of a million ways to use this, thanks so much, Chris
you back?


Sharon June 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

Wow! I so love cilantro! Can’t wait to try this! Thanks!


Cathy @What Would Cathy Eat? June 23, 2011 at 9:24 am

I’ve made a similar pesto but with chives and lime juice in addition to the cilantro. Now I will have to try yours!


Kalyn June 23, 2011 at 8:24 am

Now I’m seriously wondering why I’ve never done this!


Jane Schmidgall June 23, 2011 at 7:53 am

Paula-thanks for this recipe! As soon as it gets hot here, the cilantro bolts and we won’t have fresh cilantro until fall. This is a novel idea!


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