Chimichurri (Argentinian Steak Sauce)

Chimichurri, a delicious if curiously named garlic and parsley based sauce from Argentina, is a wonderful way to dress up steaks. It reminds me a lot of the salsa verde used in Italian cooking for boiled meats, and given the large Italian diaspora in Argentina (upwards of 60% of Argentinians are of Italian ancestry) I have to think the similarity is not merely coincidental.  Chimichurri is rather more piquant and is used for grilled meats rather than boiled ones. It also goes very nicely on potatoes, if you ask me, and can be used as a marinade as well. 

There are an incredible variety of recipes for chimichurri, with some versions being more red than green, but here is a basic recipe that will serve you well, to which you can add all sorts of extras if you heart so desires. I am giving pretty loose measurements; let your own eyes and tastebuds be your guide. 


The basic recipe:
A handful of parsley
A few sprigs of cilantro
A sprig or two of fresh oregano (or a pinch of dried)
1-2 cloves of garlic (some recipes call for much more)
A drizzle of vinegar (red or white)
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes (or ají molido, if you can find it), to taste
Olive oil

Optional additions:
A fresh bay leaf (many say this is an essential part of a ‘real’ chimichurri)
Red pepper
Red (or yellow) onion
Lemon juice (instead of or in addition to the vinegar)
Pimentón (Spanish paprika)


The sauce couldn’t be easier if you use a food processor: Using the pulse function, chop the herbs and garlic all together. Then add the other ingredients and process until you have a smooth (but not entirely uniform) paste. If too thick, add more olive oil. Taste and adjust as you like by adding a bit more spice or vinegar or whatever. 

[A more traditional method: chop all the solid ingredients finely and put them into a jar, together with the rest of the ingredients, and shake well.]

Let the sauce rest for an hour or two before using. (Some recipes call for letting the sauce rest overnight.)

NOTES: As noted, there are numerous variations that you can play with. This article (in Spanish) includes an interesting ‘study’ of various typical recipes that shows just how much variety there is, even among ‘authentic’ recipes. The red variety of chimichurri, for example, uses much less herbs and much more tomato, red pepper and/or chiles. 

Some recipes call for adding just a bit of hot water to the sauce at the end, which slightly cooks the garlic and other ingredients and mellows their flavors. (If you do this, use a bit less oil.)

While indisputably Argentinian in origin, you will find chimichurri all over Latin America, as far north as Mexico, where they prefer a red-style sauce with dried chili peppers. There are various stories about how this sauce got its name. Some say it has an indigenous origin, others that it is a corruption of the English phrase “Give me the curry” or Jimmy Curry, the name of an English merchant who imported Argentinian beef to the UK. Some say the word comes from the Basque language. Who knows what the real story is, but no matter , it’s the taste that counts!



Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

20 Responses to “Chimichurri (Argentinian Steak Sauce)”

  1. El Coco
    29 July 2012 at 20:12 #

    Beautiful post! Just one thing, if I may, as an argentinian who loves chimichurri: cilantro, basil or cloves ar hardly, if ever, found in chinichurri sauces. The rest of the ingredients are fine. If you want to go even further with variations, you may also add shredded carrots and a few anise seeds. Sometimes red or white wine is mixed together with the vinegar.

    Another thing is, I don't think that chimichurri relates to the culinary culture brought by italians. Most of italian inmigrants came to Argentina during the first decades of 1900, while chimichurri had already been around for some time.

  2. 18 June 2012 at 20:54 #

    Sounds delicious!

  3. 18 June 2012 at 20:54 #

    Thanks, Trix! Argentina is one of those places I've wanted to really visit. I was there in the late 70's, in my student days, but just passing through, in a busload of Chileans. Some day I'll make it back.

  4. 18 June 2012 at 20:53 #

    Thanks, Shirley! Nice to hear from you. :=)

  5. 18 June 2012 at 20:52 #

    Thanks, Ruth! I thought the Italian-English connection was intriguing, too. It's a small world, as they say…

  6. 14 June 2012 at 17:27 #

    Thanks, Claudia. I'm anxious to try the red version, too.

  7. 14 June 2012 at 13:56 #

    Thanks for the great alternate recipes in this post… can't wait to try these other options. I just recently made some bison steaks with chimichurri and the flavor was amazing.

  8. 14 June 2012 at 07:07 #

    I second Drick – that steak is cooked to perfection. So interesting about the Italian diaspora in Argentina – makes me want to re-examine the cuisine with that in mind.

  9. 13 June 2012 at 22:18 #

    Gosh, love the sauce with the succulent meat! I could almost smell it from here. Thks for leaving your lovely comments @ Shirley's Luxury Haven! It's great hearing from u again! Take care, my friend!

  10. 13 June 2012 at 15:21 #

    This fascinates me. The Italian and British connection. Good flavours know no frontiers. Interesting use of parsley and cilantro together, never thought of combining the two. Love the fact you can add other ingredients too. Great recipe Frank. One to bookmark indeed!

  11. 12 June 2012 at 15:00 #

    This is the perfect summer grilling sauce (no heat unless you add peppers). Now, I'd like to learn more about the origins of the dish – whether fanciful or not – you just gave me a taste. Also, liking the idea of making this as a red sauce when the tomatoes are in.

  12. 11 June 2012 at 20:50 #

    Thanks for stopping by, Simona!

  13. 11 June 2012 at 20:50 #

    Thanks, Cindy!

  14. 11 June 2012 at 20:49 #


  15. 11 June 2012 at 20:49 #

    Thanks, Drick!

  16. 11 June 2012 at 19:02 #

    I like the idea od using it with potatoes. And it certainly reminds me of salsa verde. That's an interesting piece of data about Argentinians.

  17. 11 June 2012 at 03:37 #

    This sauce looks so good with that semi-cooked meat you have there!

  18. 10 June 2012 at 18:26 #

    I love chimichurry. There is something very Italian about the flavor combination of this Argentinian dish!

  19. 10 June 2012 at 14:50 #

    on matter where the name comes (although you know I do like these tidbits) I do like a good Chimichurri and yours is just perfect Frank. So is that steak, cooked perfectly. Mine is usually a bit more red from red bell peppers and spices – am gonna try your version next time – have a great week

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: