Easy 5-Ingredient Cilantro Sauce with Garlic

For fast flavor, this easy cilantro sauce can’t be beat! It’s super simple to make with fresh ingredients, and combined with lime and garlic, it’s a great way to utilize an exuberant crop of cilantro.

Serve it with these slow cooker chicken tacos.

cilantro sauce in a jar with a spoon.

I love easy. And this recipe? Is so easy. Even better though is when my family starts rummaging through the fridge asking if there’s any more of that delicious sauce left. 


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Making This Easy Garlic Cilantro Sauce

Whether you’re growing your own cilantro or picking some up at the farmers market, plan on making up a batch next time dinner needs a little extra zing or for your weekly taco night. 

Made with just a handful of simple ingredients, this easy sauce is the perfect summer condiment to enjoy while this fresh herb is in season. 

Ingredients for cilantro sauce.

Ingredients

Fresh Cilantro — I know not everyone loves cilantro, but this is of course a cilantro sauce recipe…but you can substitute basil if you prefer.

Fresh Garlic — This adds that spicy zing we all love so much. The processor will chop it up so no need to reach for that powder…

Oil — Avocado oil is a light oil and one that I use in this recipe regularly. Olive oil also works. 

Fresh Lime Juice —The bright flavor of fresh limes make the ingredients in this garlic cilantro sauce shine. No lime? Give lemon a try for adding tangy flavor. (I’ve made it both ways, and it’s delicious either way!)

Salt & Pepper Round out the flavor of this flavorful sauce with some salt and pepper.

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Optionally, to make a spicier sauce, add a half (or whole!) jalapeno pepper to the ingredients before you blend them up. 

cilantro and garlic in a food processor

How to Make Cilantro Sauce

  • Wash and dry the cilantro and remove any thick stems.
  • Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
  • Pulse, and scrape the sides as necessary, until it is combined to your liking!
green sauce in a food processor

You can also make this in a jar with an immersion blender. To do so, place all of the ingredients in a wide mouth jar and pulse until roughly chopped, then process to reach desired consistency.

Of course, if you don’t mind a slightly chunkier version, you can chop by hand and it will still taste delicious, though less sauce-like. 

Make it a Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

To make a creamy sauce, stir in some sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, or a few tablespoons of heavy cream. 

white pottery bowl with cilantro lime sauce.

Using Cilantro Sauce

Whether you make it simple and fresh or make it creamy, this cilantro lime sauce recipe is the perfect complement to Mexican flavors, but it’s incredibly versatile and a fabulous addition to an endless variety of meals. 

  • It’s the perfect sauce for topping fish tacos or shrimp tacos along with finely chopped red onion and a little queso fresco. 
  • Serve it alongside grilled chicken breasts for a fresh burst of flavor. 
  • It’s delicious as a salad dressing, especially on taco salad, but any salad is fair game. Use it plain or stir in some sour cream and mayo for an easy dressing. 
  • Spread some inside a tortilla and add fresh veggies, green onions, cheese, and diced chicken for a delicious lunch wrap.
  • It’s a great dipping sauce for French fries or home fries.
  • Drizzle on scrambled eggs or inside a breakfast burrito.
  • Offer it as an option for topping burrito bowls or as part of a quesadilla bar.
cilantro sauce on a spoon.

Storing Leftovers 

If you have leftover cilantro lime sauce, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. To preserve this sauce longer, freeze in small containers much like you would pesto

green cilantro sauce in a white dish from above

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cilantro sauce in a jar with a spoon.

Cilantro Sauce with Lime and Garlic

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Processing Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 11 minutes

This healthy cilantro lime sauce makes a flavorful addition to sandwiches, wraps, and -- of course -- tacos. it's a great recipe for adding fast flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 cup lime juice (or lemon!)
  • 1/2 cup avocado or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry cilantro. Remove thick stems.
  2. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process for 30 seconds or so; scrape down sides.
  3. Continue processing until the ingredients are pureed.
  4. Store cilantro sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze in small containers to preserve longer.

Notes

To use an immersion blender, combine ingredients in a wide-mouth jar. Pulse the immersion blender on and off, moving it up and down until all cilantro leaves are incorporated, then run blender until the sauce is fully pureed.

This is delicious served with tacos, but also a great addition to wraps or (so my son says) drizzled on scrambled eggs.

To make a creamy and delicious salad dressing, combine with 1/2 cup mayonnaise, sour cream, or plain yogurt.

If you like a bit of spice, add a jalapeno pepper to the ingredient list.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 127Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 266mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

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Originally published April 2021; this post has been updated.

green cilantro sauce in a white dish from above

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

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