This is an authentic chimichurri sauce recipe from Argentina, the real deal. A super flavorful sauce - think garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes - that comes together in 15 minutes and is the perfect condiment for barbecued meat, grilled chicken, sandwiches, and chorizo. It keeps for days, or weeks.
Chimichurri sauce is our traditional condiment originated here in Argentina. Probably the one we identify with the most. The story tells that the name is a deformation of 'gimme curry', a sentence used by the English settlers living here, referring to the sauce as curry. It's spread to other parts of South America also, like Uruguay.
It is ridiculously simple to make, you can have it ready in 15 minutes, it uses everyday ingredients, and lasts a few weeks (or more) in the fridge. We barbecue a lot - and I mean a lot - and this condiment is the thing to use as a topping on our beloved chorizo sandwiches, our flagship street food dish, and with any other barbecued meats.
Now, I know I'm writing this from chimichurri's homeland, and here there are as many authentic versions as there are persons, but let me tell you none of them have fresh cilantro leaves, red onion, lime juice, lemon juice, or is made in the food processor. Sorry guys, but it had to be said.
The ingredients in this condiment date from forever (image above) and many were used dried because they were more easily stored.
Fresh herbs were not traditionally used, probably because of availability in the old days. And even though fresh parsley a regular staple now, it can hardly count as a fresh herb sauce. It's one of those versatile sauces, I'll give you that, because you can use fresh ones if so inclined.
- Parsley - fresh is better, but you can use dried parsley. Some would argue it was originally made with dried herbs. I think fresh parsley adds a lot to the final condiment, so that's what I use.
- Garlic - again, I use fresh, but you find many who use dried flakes. Not my thing and, as with the parsley, I think it adds a lot to the final sauce.
- Oregano - the dried herb is used here. Fresh oregano is not something you easily find and the flavor is not as strong.
- Ají molido - our version of crushed red pepper flakes, it's a deep red color and has larger bits among the ground powder (image above). It looks as if you mixed pepperoncino flakes with paprika, which is a smooth powder.
- Salt and pepper: I like to use kosher salt (but use your favorite kind) and freshly ground black pepper.
- Vinegar - red wine vinegar. The only vinegar used in an authentic chimichurri sauce.
- Oil - regular oil is used, sunflower or other cooking oil. Olive oil was never originally used in chimichurri simply because it wasn't widely available. But it does work and very well.
- Water - it's a necessary ingredient when using all dried herbs and spices. Many recipes have more water than oil in them. It's a matter of personal taste.
How to prepare it
It's a matter of chopping and mixing.
- Chopping: first we chop the fresh parsley and garlic cloves together. It's a coarse mixture, that why a food processor or a blender are not used. Ever. But hey, it's your chimichurri sauce recipe, so if you like it in paste form, be my guest. I'm just stating what the authentic and traditional way of preparing it is.
- Mixing: then you simply add the rest of the dry ingredients and the liquids. At this point make sure you taste it. It will be coarse and strange if it's your first time, but know that the stay in the fridge will mellow it out and bring the flavors together.
- Airtight container: though I prepared it in a glass jar for this post's purpose, we usually use a mason jar or similar with a tight fitting lid, because it's normally kept for several weeks in the refrigerator. So any type of airtight container is key. But keep in mind that if you use plastic ones, the flavor will seep into it and you'll never be able to get it off. Or almost. If you do that, it will forever be the chimichurri container.
Facts about chimichurri
The sauce is not overly oily or modern, it's pungent with garlic and vinegar flavors and even a bit coarse on the mouth.
It's literally watered down, otherwise, it would be just vinegar tasting, despite the oil that is added to it. A couple of days marinating in the fridge makes the flavors meld together and produce a better result.
So the recipe today is 1000% authentic, the one a true native (which I am) would post. But I give variations on it before the recipe so you can adapt it if needed.
Seriously, I think it's an acquired taste, one of those delicious sauces or condiments that you grow into after trying it with grilled meat or in chorizo sandwiches, which is nothing more than a french bread roll, barbecued pork/beef chorizo, and chimichurri sauce. One of the best street food in the world. That we eat at the beginning of our barbecues usually.
- Use fresh parsley - it does make a difference. I almost double the amount of chopped parsley stated in this recipe because that's how I roll. And use olive oil more than not because that's what I always have in my house. I don't buy much sunflower oil anymore.
- Resting period - I like to make 1 or 2 days ahead. As with most condiments, the flavors meld and improve greatly. Be careful of the amount of salt and garlic as it can become too strong after a few days.
- Ají molido - in Spanish ají means pepper and molido means ground. Since you probably won't find the one we have here, you can use a mixture of crushed red pepper flakes and paprika. Or use chopped fresh red chilies. I have used all of them occasionally and it works, though we will not tell that to my fellow countrymen else I am banned.
- Dried herbs and garlic - in an emergency you can use all dried herbs (oregano, red pepper flakes, black pepper) and dried garlic. Simply add vinegar, oil, water, and voilà, you have instant chimichurri with little work. The truth is that here they sell 'chimichurri' as a spice mix which is just what I explained before.
- Variations on this recipe - use olive oil instead of sunflower; use cilantro together with the parsley (I know most of you do anyway), add some other type of dried red pepper.
- Dipping sauce:
And most of all, enjoy eating with friends and family, the summer weather and long days.
Other recipes you might like:
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Authentic Chimichurri recipe from Argentina. Super flavorful, with garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, oregano, and vinegar, it's the perfect sauce for barbecued meats.
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon aji molido (or smoked hot paprika and crushed red pepper flakes)
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, a large bunch
- 5 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Mix all dry ingredients - parsley, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes - together in a glass jar.
- Add water and vinegar and mix well.
- Add oil, salt, and pepper and mix well.
- Check seasonings and adapt to your personal preference.
- Keep refrigerated in an airtight container, glass jar preferably.
Ingredients - as with most savory sauces, it can be easily adjusted to your particular taste. And should, as you'll be the one eating it.Not only with the amount of each but also if you want to add something. Add fresh cilantro leaves in addition to the parsley, use a smoked paprika or pepper flakes, less garlic, olive oil instead of sunflower. Whatever makes you happy.
Use fresh parsley - it does make a difference. I almost double the amount of chopped parsley stated in this recipe because that's how I roll. And use olive oil more than not because that's what I always have in my house. I don't buy much sunflower oil anymore.
Chopping - I like to coarsely chop the garlic and parsley. You can see in the images that they are not finely minced, but adapt that to your preference.
Resting period - it's not mandatory, but I like to make 1 or 2 days ahead. Many people don't, or at least they eat it as soon as they make it. As with most condiments, the flavors meld and improve greatly. Be careful with the amount of salt and garlic as it can become too strong after a few days, depending on how much you use. Keep that in mind if you're making it several days or weeks in advance.
Ají molido - since you probably won't find the one we have here, you can use a mixture of crushed red pepper flakes and paprika. I have used it occasionally and it works, though we will not tell that to my fellow countrymen else I am banned.
Dried herbs and garlic - in an emergency you can use all dried herbs (oregano, red pepper flakes, black pepper) and dried garlic. Simply add vinegar, oil, water and voilà, you have instant chimichurri with little work. The truth is that here they sell 'chimichurri' as a spice mix which is just what I explained before.
Variations on this recipe - use olive oil instead of sunflower; use cilantro together with the parsley (I know most of you do anyway), add some other type of dried red pepper.
Keywords: chimichurri sauce