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Cilantro Jalapeno Sauce

Let’s learn how to make the sauce you’ll want to put on EVERYTHING – seriously everything! It’s bright, refreshing, and packed with flavor.

I started making this cilantro jalapeño sauce a few years ago when I went to a pizza shop with my parents and they loved this green sauce that they had. My mom loved it so much but since we lived far away from it, I had to learn how to make it at home for her. 

So many different cuisines around the world have a green sauce similar to this. Afghans and Indians have a green chutney. Peruvians have aji verde. Moroccans have chermoula. All super flavorful and all have cilantro as the star despite some other variations!

What You Will Need

This recipe is super simple and can be tweaked easily based on your taste and ingredients available to you so let’s get to it.

  • Cilantro: You will need one large bunch. Keep in mind the stems have just as much flavor as the leaves so I only remove about 3 inches off the stems (I remove the thickest part of the stems). See the video down below for a visual. 
  • Jalapeño: Two whole jalapeños! I like to remove all the seeds and stems from both jalapeños so the sauce is completely mild. If you like it spicy, keep some of the seeds and stem to your taste. Another option is to add cayenne powder to make it spicy which is a lot more easy to control the heat level.
  • Smoked paprika: Regular paprika also works just as great.
  • Cumin: A must. Feel free to add more for a stronger cumin taste.
  • Salt: Add to your taste but start out with less and add more as needed. A little goes a long way.
  • Black pepper: Also a must.
  • Garlic cloves: Add anywhere from 4 to 7 cloves. This depends on the size of your cloves and how strong of a garlic taste you would like. 
  • Mayonnaise: To help thicken the sauce and get it nice and creamy. You can also use sour cream if you can’t stand mayo but the taste will be slightly different.
  • Plain Whole Milk Yogurt: This helps lighten the sauce and also get it creamy. For a lighter sauce, you can add less mayo and more yogurt. 
  • Lime Juice: You can also add lemon juice instead but I like lime as it’s slightly less acidic.

How to USE This Sauce

The possibilities are truly endless but here are some of my favorite ways I have used this sauce!

  • Enjoy with some tandoori chicken skewers and homemade naan
  • Drizzle on top of some pizza or flatbread.
  • Put in a sandwich or panini with turkey or roast beef. SO good!
  • Use it as a marinade for chicken or tofu.
  • Fry some eggs in it for breakfast.
  • Use it as a dip for veggies.
  • Make a salad and use it as a dressing!

These are just a few ideas but there are so much more. 

Make it Vegan

To make it vegan, just pass on the cotija or parmesan cheese. 

To make it creamy, skip the mayonnaise and yogurt. You can use cashews that have been soaking overnight or silken tofu to thicken it up. You can also skip the creamy element entirely and it will still be delicious. Another option is a vegan mayonnaise you like. 

Another great option is to add avocado! This is the easiest and most delicious way to thicken it up and make it creamy.

Tips & Notes

  • To make it vegan, skip the cheese and use a vegan mayo or use avocado, soaked cashews, or silken tofu if you’d like to thicken it up and make it creamy.
  • Cotija or parmesan is not necessary! I make it all the time without any cheese and it’s amazing.
  • For a spicy sauce, increase the heat level by keeping some of the seeds and/or stems from the jalapeños. Another option is to add cayenne powder to control the heat level. A little goes a long way. Feel free to add a few mint leaves if you choose to make it spicy to balance it out.
  • Lime juice can be swapped for lemon juice to add some acidity. 
  • For the garlic, add as much or as little as you like depending how much you love garlic. I added 6 cloves. Add 4 or 5 if your cloves are really large and you like a more mild garlic taste.

Watch How to Make It

Cilantro Jalapeño Sauce

Let's learn how to make the sauce you'll want to put on EVERYTHING - seriously everything! It's bright, refreshing, and packed with flavor. The best part is this Cilantro Jalapeño Sauce takes 10 minutes to make and will elevate any meal. Put it on top of rice, in a sandwich, or use it as a dip.
Total Time 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Servings 2 cups


  • 1 whole bunch cilantro
  • 2 jalapeños seeds and stems removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • juice of 1 whole lime
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cotija or parmesan cheese optional


  • To a food processor, add all the ingredients and pulse until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust salt or spiciness to your taste.
  • If you would like it thicker and more creamier, add more yoghurt and/or mayo.
  • Store any leftovers in an air-tight container or jar and keep in the fridge for 5 to 7 days.
Keyword cilantro, sauce
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