This traditional Argentinian sauce takes on some heat for a spicy chimichurri! An easy sauce that takes minutes to whip up with fresh herbs, tangy vinegar, garlic and crushed red pepper. This delicious chimichurri is perfect for pairing with any proteins or vegetables.
The secret to the best spicy chimichurri you’ll ever make
I’m quite the chimichurri lover and I’ve tried many many different recipes over the years. However, a few years back, I tried Adriana’s chimichurri and it changed my life. Adriana is from Argentina, where chimichurri is king, and her recipe was the best I’ve ever had.
I asked her how she made the recipe and she gave me the secret ingredient: apple cider vinegar.
At first, using apple cider vinegar seemed strange as most chimichurri recipes use red wine vinegar, but as she’s from the region chimichurri originated from I figured she must know something I didn’t. So I tried my first apple cider vinegar chimichurri and let me tell you - it BLEW my mind.
Let me tell you why apple cider vinegar (acv) is that much better to use in chimichurri than the typical red wine vinegar. First, the taste: acv has a sweeter and more mellow flavor thanks to the apples while red wine vinegar is more acidic and tart due to grapes. Second, acv has more health benefits due to it being rich in vitamins and probiotics, whereas red wine vinegar is not as nutritious. Lastly, the quality of red wine vinegar highly depends on the brand you purchase, leaving a lot of issues with consistency and flavor.
Now I can share this authentic Argentinian chimichurri recipe so that you can also try the best chimichurri I’ve ever tasted. Drizzle it on fish, carne Asada, or even roasted veggies because it truly makes anything taste delicious.
Why this recipe works
- Straight from the source: I adapted this recipe from my friend’s mom, an Argentinian who makes the best chimichurri I’ve ever had.
- Simple: throw all ingredients in the food processor or blender and you’re ready to go!
- Delicious and fresh: this recipe uses fresh herbs which not only makes the sauce incredibly fresh but also delicious.
- Secret ingredient: while most chimichurri recipes use red wine vinegar, this authentic Argentinian chimichurri uses apple cider vinegar. It adds a slight sweetness to the chimichurri and makes it that much better.
What is Chimichurri?
Chimichurri is a popular sauce and condiment in Argentine cuisine. It is made with a combination of fresh ingredients such as parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, and oil, along with some spices and seasonings. The sauce is known for its vibrant green color and intense flavor profile.
It is typically used as a marinade or served as a topping for grilled meats, such as steak or chicken. Some variations of chimichurri can include spicy elements like red pepper flakes or hot sauce, giving it an extra kick. Spicy chimichurri, therefore, refers to a version of the sauce that includes spicy ingredients, adding heat to its flavor.
Chimichurri is best with fresh parsley. All authentic chimichurri recipes use parsley and it’s for a reason. The flavor melds well with the olive oil and acidic vinegar, making for a herbaceous sauce. Do not substitute.
While most traditional chimichurri recipes use only parsley, I tried a mint chimichurri while on vacation in Ibiza and it added a great flavor and potential health benefits. Mint can aid in digestion and has a cooling flavor which balances the other flavors in this chimichurri sauce recipe. Substitute with other herbs like spring onion, fresh oregano, or cilantro.
Apple Cider Vinegar
The trick to making the best chimichurri sauce is in the vinegar. For best results use apple cider vinegar as it adds a sweet yet acidic balance to the Argentinian sauce.
The best substitute will be red wine vinegar, but I highly recommend trying it with ACV as suggested. You can also use freshly squeezed lime juice or lemon juice, which will add a citrus flavor.
Use a high quality olive oil since this chimichurri only uses a few ingredients. Do not substitute with other oils.
Red Pepper Flakes
To make this spicy chimichurri sauce, I use crushed red pepper flakes. They are one of the most common pantry items, so you won’t have to run out for any ingredients you’ll never use again.
You can substitute crushed red pepper with chili peppers, like a serrano pepper or jalapeño pepper. When using fresh chiles, the spice level can range too much from one to another, and red pepper flakes are the easiest way to make a customizable and consistent sauce.
For this chimichurri recipe, I use garlic cloves because I find it adds a nice light flavor. For a stronger onion flavor, you can use minced shallot.
Add to Food Processor
Add all ingredients to the food processor . It's unlike a pesto in that you don't need to drizzle the olive oil in slowly.
Process all ingredients until the herbs are roughly chopped.
Less spicy: for less or no spice, try this chimichurri without the red pepper flakes.
More spicy: spicy lovers, unite! For an even spicier chimichurri, substitute the crushed red pepper with a spicy chili pepper like jalapeños, serrano peppers, or habaneros. (In that order of spice level depending on personal taste).
Red chimichurri: this chimichurri can turn into a red chimichurri with a few added ingredients. To try this variation by adding roasted red peppers, Fresno chilies and ground paprika.
Spicy chimichurri is one of the most versatile sauces you can use! It adds so much flavor to simple seared, roasted or grilled proteins.
Try it on any variety of proteins like:
- Flank steak or carne asada (most traditional)
- Pork, like seared pork chops
- Seared salmon
- Blackened ahi tuna or swordfish
- Turkey burgers and chicken burgers
- Carnitas or shredded chicken
- My favorite fried fish tacos
Chimichurri can also add flavor to fruit and veggies. Try it on grilled pineapple, fajita veggies, broccoli and cauliflower, or even squash and zucchini. It can also act as a salad dressing on any type of greens, or for a flavor bomb try it on my watermelon mint salad!
Lastly, one of the best ways to spruce up Mexican roasted potatoes or a pasta salad is to add a drizzle of this spicy chimichurri.
Remove stems from parsley: the stems of parsley can be bitter in taste, so make sure to remove the leaves from the stems before processing.
Let it sit: all Argentinians know that for the best chimichurri, let it rest. Make the chimichurri at least 15 minutes before using, this will help the flavors meld better.
It might solidify when storing: if using a high quality olive oil, your chimichurri will solidify. This is completely normal and also happens with salad dressings that use olive oil. Simply let the chimichurri sit out at room temperature 15-30 minutes before using.
Storage: Keep chimichurri in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. It’s best enjoyed fresh for optimal flavor.
Make it without a food processor: While a food processor can make the preparation easier, you can also finely chop the ingredients by hand, which is a more traditional recipe. Just ensure that all the components are well combined.
Green chimichurri, also known as traditional chimichurri, is typically made with fresh herbs, garlic, oregano, vinegar, olive oil, and salt. It has a vibrant green color and a bold, herbaceous flavor. This version is more commonly associated with the Argentinean origin of chimichurri sauce.
On the other hand, red chimichurri incorporates additional ingredients such as red bell peppers or red chili flakes, which contribute to its spicy and tangy taste. These red elements offer a deeper, richer flavor profile compared to traditional green chimichurri. The level of spiciness can vary depending on the amount of spice added to the recipe.
The traditional chimichurri recipe is not spicy. To add some heat, you can incorporate ingredients like red pepper flakes, crushed red pepper, or even a serrano pepper. Adjust the amount according to your spice preference, keeping in mind that different chili peppers have varying heat levels.
Yes, you can experiment with different herbs based on your taste preferences. Besides parsley, cilantro, and oregano, some variations (like mine!) may include basil or mint for an interesting twist.
Absolutely! Lime juice or lemon juice can bring a delightful citrusy flavor to your chimichurri sauce, making it an excellent substitute for vinegar.
Not at all! While chimichurri is traditionally served with grilled steak, it pairs well with various other proteins like chicken, pork, fish, and even grilled vegetables. Its vibrant flavor adds a delicious touch to any dish.
Spicy chimichurri is relatively healthy as it mainly consists of fresh herbs, olive oil, and vinegar. It is low in saturated fat and can be a flavorful alternative to heavy sauces.
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- 1 cup parsley
- ½ cup mint
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2-3 teaspoons red pepper flakes 2 teaspoons for mild; 3 for medium to spicy
- Remove stems from parsley and mint and keep leaves only. Peel garlic cloves.
- Add all to the food processor and process until the herbs are roughly chopped and all ingredients meld together, about 30-45 seconds.
- Let the spicy chimichurri sit at least 15 minutes before using - it'll make for a much more flavorful sauce!