Authentic Chimichurri

by Food Hound on June 23, 2013

in Sauces and Dressings

Post image for Authentic Chimichurri

Guess what I learned this weekend?  Overalls are back.  For real.  Not that you’ll catch me in them, but if you attend your after-work watering hole in Dungarees, you will be en vogue.  Second, bike clips are the devil.  If God intended us to be one with our bikes, He would have made falling less painful.

The third is the most shocking of all: chimichurri is not customizable.  WHAAAAAT?????

If you thought that the classic Argentine dish was just a general term for a bunch of herbs of your choosing mixed together, you thought WRONG, and any Argentinian will call you out and make sure you know you are mistaken.  They’re not being mean- they’re just defending the iconic condiment.  I dig it.

Why did I need to educate myself on the intricacies of authentic chimichurri?  Because when you’re one of the few people who think throwing a South American-themed food party is super-cool, you at least need to bring your authenticity A-game.  Most recipes for ‘chimichurri’ I read about had about 87,000 comments from people saying ‘I’m Argentinian, this is not authentic, there is no cilantro in chimichurri, you’re a gringo, I wouldn’t feed this to my perro, etc.’  Argentinians feel strongly about the authenticity of their favorite condiment, and I didn’t want word to get out that there was a Knoxville girl throwing a South American-themed party with gringo chimichurri.

Did you catch what I wrote above?  There is no cilantro in classic chimichurri.  Did not see that one coming.  From my research, it seems that most people think cilantro, maybe mint, and maybe some lemon zest make up a classic chimichurri.  As delicious as that sounds, it’s not the Real Deal.  The only herbs in an authentic chimichurri are parsley and oregano, mixed with some garlic, chili flakes, vinegar, salt and olive oil.  Nothing fancy, just straight up herbaceous deliciousness.

While I admit I was totally skeptical about making the Real Deal sans cilantro, mint and lemon zest (because doesn’t that just sound perfect?), I wanted to see what kind of perfect original combination made Argentinians blaze through impostors with virtual torches. The chopped up herbs + vinegar mixture in my food processor smelled way too grassy and pungent to taste like the silky, mellow-sweet condiment I wanted to spread over my steak like a blanket of flavor.

But… then you add copious amounts of olive oil and let. it. sit.  That’s when the transformation occurs.

Over the course of a few hours the grassiness mellows, the oregano comes through a little more, and the piquant vinegar cuts through the richness of the olive oil to create a sauce that was meant to be painted on hot slices of grilled steak and enjoyed till the very last drop.  Hats off to Argentina.  This is the STUFF.

Although I did not stray from the classic flavors, I did something that would probably make most Argentinian abuelas turn red with rage and indignation- I used a food processor for the choppin’.  You want everything finely chopped, and that’s the best way to get it that way if your knife skills are less than ninja.  BUT… you don’t want everything pureed together, which is why I pulsed the ‘dry’ ingredients till they were perfectly chopped, then scraped them out of my food processor and stirred in the olive oil.  This keeps the texture just right, and lets the herbs and garlic perfume the oil, rather than make everything into a dressing.  When you’re serving it, you stir it up and spoon from the bottom, making sure you get a nice spoonful of herbs + a nice amount of that fragrant oil to add that buttery-rich component to your steak.  Anything that makes steak more buttery rich is a friend of mine!  Plus, aren’t all the food personalities always saying that you need to add a ‘pop of color’ before serving something?  Hello, chimichurri- best pop of color EV-AH!

Making an authentic chimichurri was like stoking my flame of passion for a meat + sauce combo with tiny wisps of oxygen and dried-out wood.  If the same flame of passion consumes your soul, you will definitely want to check out this post, this post, this post, and this post.

4.5 from 6 reviews
Authentic Chimichurri
  • 2 cups packed Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup packed fresh oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup sherry or red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil (best quality)
  1. Pulse parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped (this will take a bunch of pulses, but you don't want to puree the mixture). Scrape parsley mixture into a bowl and stir in olive oil. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving so the flavors can meld. YUM!!!!
I served this to accompany sliced grilled flank steak, but that's only the beginning- it's also crazy-good on grilled or roasted chicken, potatoes, or a dipping sauce for a nice, crusty baguette. Oh my gosh, I'm salivating.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Carlos August 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I make my own classic homemade chimichurri from a recipe made by my great grandmother and it is very similar to the one you describe. However, it is true that there is no cilantro in the original recipe.


Jackie September 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I make my mom’s recipe for chimichurri and I am SO glad that you wrote this article. Seeing “Chimichurri” recipes with cilantro or mint or thyme or basil is really offensive and very irritating to Argentines. Chimichurri is one of those traditional recipes that should not be tampered with since Argentines such as myself consider it perfect the way it is. The worst part is the addition of cilantro or basil. Cilantro is not to be found in the Argentine pantry- there are virtually no recipes with it in Argentina and most Argentines actually know anything about it or don’t like the taste of it. Basil is used to make pesto, not chimichurri. Recipes that include any herbs other than the ones you mentioned make Americans look uneducated and rude. Thank you for a refreshing article.


aimee July 14, 2014 at 11:52 pm

I’m so glad to have found this I’ve chimichuri in restaurants often. I don’t care for cilantro and didn’t think I tasted in restaurants. Everything I searched online b4 it came up with cilantro.
Yeah finally!


Jenofa July 30, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Thank you for clarifying there is no cilantro in chimichurri . I want to make it the way my family would make it in Argentina but they are there and I’m un the USA. Therefore, I was searching for recipes and wondering why some people would put cilantro, cumin and lemon in it. I was going to try it but the truth is I only want the traditional way. I needed you to knock some sense in me lol.


Baju Wanita Pesta February 23, 2015 at 3:01 pm

yummy.. thanks


Carolyn April 1, 2015 at 12:17 am

Great review of authentic chimichurri — love your humorous take on it. This looks like a very classic rendition. Can’t wait to try it!


George May 8, 2015 at 12:00 am

I’m NOT Argentinean, but I’m quite sure that TRADITIONAL Chimichurri isn’t made with Olive Oil


Steve W May 12, 2016 at 9:50 am

Sorry to dig up the old post.

Well, yes…and no.

To say the sauce isn’t customizable is not true, at least to an extent. I’ve eaten enough of the stuff in Argentinean restaurants, and seen enough recipes online from Argentinean chefs to know that there are variations on the sauce.

I’m from Yorkshire, and I can tell you that no two Yorkshireman’s Yorkshire Pudding recipes are identical…but you’ll always get someone visiting Yorkshire and taking a recipe home, then finding their neighbour does it differently, and who will pontificate “That’s not how they make it in Yorkshire, and I know because I’ve been!”, when their neighbour is making it identically to someone else in Yorkshire.

There is another point to raise, too. Why this insistence on absolute authenticity? If someone prefers a recipe that’s slightly different to the ‘authentic original’, why on earth should they be forced to eat something they consider sub-standard?

In the end, it’s all about the taste.


Stephanie June 28, 2016 at 7:15 pm

Oh thank goodness. Cilantro is the devil’s herb, so I am thrilled that the original recipe doesn’t have it. I am so ready to try this 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing


Lisa Wolf July 11, 2016 at 9:05 pm

So very glad I found this recipe, I nor any of my family like the taste of cilantro its has a soapy taste to all of us, and glad to now know the authentic recipe has no cilantro


Cinthia February 1, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Don’t get me started on cilantro!!! it’s not used in our foods in Argentina. Our main herb is parsley and oregano.

It drives me nuts when my friends try to be foodies and make chimichurri their own. I tell them straight up… what you made there my friend is a great marinade and not chimichurri. Which is fine… if that’s what you want but don’t call it chimichurri. **The proportions are to taste** but the main herb is parsley and a little bit of oregano. The ingredients will stay the same.

If I went and added sesame seed oil to your puerto rican sofrito – you’d flip a table! lol or if I went and put soy sauce in to your italian pasta dish – your grandma would show me the door. lol!

Don’t mess with perfection 🙂


sweedld September 28, 2017 at 11:16 pm

I use a knife to chop the herbs finely after stripping the small oregano leaves off the twigs by hand. I also wet the herbs down with some salted red wine vinegar before I start chopping to keep them from turning black due to oxidation while chopping. The fresh Oregano leaf will turn black quickly if you don’t soak it in vinegar to stop the browning. Be sure to let the whole bottle of Chimi sauce age ON THE COUNTERTOP for at least a week for best flavor. It does not go bad but slowly loses flavor if not topped off with more vinegar between uses.

I defer to Francis Mallmann on all things Chimichurri and he states that chimi sauce in it’s most basic and authentic form is simply a local red wine vinegar, salt and oregano based seasoning. Garlic and red chili flakes are dress up and everything else is for people who can’t find fresh oregano leaf to make their Chimi sauce.

I like 1:1 Oregano to Parsley and sometimes go up to 2:1 Oregano to Parsley. That’s a lot of Oregano in my Chimichurri sauce but my herbs are always fresh from the garden and fresh Oregano is much more mellow than the overly assertive dried stuff. Another big deal is that Oregano is not a single herb but a bunch of different herbs and the stuff in Argentina is likely the local herb that has become Argentinian Oregano when it is used in the kitchen. In other words, Argentinian oregano is not Greek Oregano but some other Oregano plant with similar flavor. According to Diana Kennedy, there are at least 6 different plants used as Oregano in the Mexican Kitchen. and only Lippia graveolens is listed below for Mexican Oregano so that means 5 other plants are used that we can’t get here in the US. Same is probably true for Argentinian Oregano used in authentic Argentinian Chimichurri sauce.

Greek Oregano Origanum vulgare var. hirtum– True oregano, excellent flavor, hardy.
Syrian Oregano (Oregano maru) – Strong, spicy flavor.
Turkestan Oregano (Oregano tyttanthum) – Strong flavor, robust plant, good for indoor culture.
Hopley’s Purple Oregano – Purple-green foliage, compact, mild flavor.
Mexican Oregano (Lippia graveolens) – Good oregano flavor used for chili and Mexican dishes.


Beau October 15, 2017 at 10:00 pm

I’ve really enjoyed what I thought was Chimichurri in the past but now after reading this and making the recipe, approximately measured, I don’t know if I ever had the “real” thing before this week.

This recipe is delicious but what I’ve had before from restaurants and a market here in Texas for some reason(s) had me feeling good the next day in a way this recipe didn’t, and I don’t know if it’s because of cilantro or lemon zest or both or neither, as I don’t know those other recipes..

The quest for great chimichurri is making me plant an herb garden ..


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