Try this Spicy Cilantro Pesto Recipe that is easy to make with cilantro, cotija cheese, almonds, and chipotles. Also a list of pesto recipe ideas!
Spicy Cilantro Pesto, an easy recipe for all the cilantro lovers! If you love cilantro as much as I do and you’ve never had cilantro pesto, you’re in for a real treat! I could eat this Spicy Cilantro Pesto by the spoonfuls! It’s extremely versatile and very easy to make! You can make it from not spicy at all to HOT! Be sure to make a big batch and freeze it in small batches so that you always have some in the house! I’ve got lots of great ideas on how to use this Cilantro Pesto.
This Spicy Cilantro Pesto is so EASY to make!! I actually quadrupled the recipe and froze all the pesto. Start with a big bunch of cilantro and cut off the bottom part of the stems. Don’t worry about the stems with the leaves. It will all get chopped up in a food processor.
I love a little bit of chipotle in my pesto. If you do NOT like spicy food, you can omit it completely, or add a little at a time until you get the right heat for you and your family.
I used Cotija cheese and have used different variations of it depending on what I can find. This particular variety has the consistency and texture of grated Parmesan cheese. I have also used other varieties that are more the consistency of feta cheese. Both work well! You should be able to find this Cotija cheese in most large grocery stores or your local Hispanic markets. If you’ve never tried it, definitely give it a try!
Most traditional pestos use pine nuts, but I love to use almonds in this version. These are unsalted almonds that I toasted slightly in the oven and cooled completely.
Put the cilantro, chipotle, cotija cheese, and almonds in a food processor along with some garlic cloves, lime juice, and black pepper.
Put the top on the food processor and process until everything is finely chopped.
While the processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil and watch everything come together!
Give everything a taste and adjust as needed with the chipotle and other ingredients.
To freeze, I like to divide up the pesto among small resealable bags and place the bags flat in the freezer so they don’t take up much room and can be stacked. You can also freeze the pesto in ice cube trays then just pop out what you want when you want it!
Now are you wondering what to do with all this great Spicy Cilantro Pesto??? Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Spread a little pesto on your sandwiches or burgers, or mix a little in with some mayo for a sandwich spread.
- Mix a little pesto into your favorite pasta salads, potato salads, and coleslaws.
- Mix a little pesto into your favorite chicken salads, tuna fish, or shrimp salads.
- Spread a little pesto on crostini or crackers and top with shrimp, sliced beef, or veggies.
- Mix a little pesto into some sour cream and mayonnaise/yogurt for a delicious veggie or chip dip.
- Use pesto as a sauce for pasta or mix a little into your favorite tomato sauces. A little would be delicious in this Pesto Alfredo or Spicy Alfredo.
- Spoon pesto over a block of softened cream cheese for a spread that is great with crackers and veggies.
- Spoon a little pesto over tacos or your favorite Mexican dishes.
- Mix pesto with a little more olive oil and vinegar for a simple vinaigrette dressing for salads.
- Mix pesto with a little more olive oil and lime juice and use as a marinade or sauce for chicken, beef, shrimp/fish, or pork.
- Use pesto as a sauce for homemade pizza.
- Or my personal fave…just eat it straight-up with a spoon!
As easy as this pesto is to make, it does make a bit of a mess and your counters and food processor may be a little dirty. Sorry about that. :) The cilantro pesto is totally worth the mess but it may take you a few minutes to clean it all up.
Hope you enjoy! Another easy pesto recipe is this delicious Spinach Basil Pesto.
Spicy Cilantro Pesto
- Place all ingredients except olive oil in food processor Process until everything is finely chopped.
- While food processor is running, drizzle in olive oil until pesto comes together.
- Store in fridge or freezer.
(Nutrition data is provided when available for informational purposes only and calculated using an online nutritional calculator. For the most accurate information please calculate based on specific ingredients and brands you use as well as any changes you made to the recipe. I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietician and any nutritional information provided should only be used as a general guideline and estimate.)