Cilantro Pesto Recipe (With Pumpkin Seeds!)

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cilantro pesto recipe
Wellness Mama » Blog » Recipes » Cilantro Pesto Recipe (With Pumpkin Seeds!)

This cilantro pesto recipe is a mainstay in our house! I adapted it from my more traditional basil pesto recipe and now it is a daily go-to for our family after going through Christa Orecchio’s Soup Detox.

What is Pesto?

Pesto is a traditional Italian no-cook sauce. It is usually made with basil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and some type of oil. Pesto can be used on pasta or chicken and has amazing flavor.

The word pesto comes from the Italian word “pestare” meaning to crush or pound. This is likely because pesto was traditionally made with a mortar and pestle (though the common method now is to use a mini food processor). Consume pesto within the first few days after making for the best flavor.

Pesto Storing tip: Put in a small jar and top with a small amount of high quality olive oil to seal out the air and keep it fresher longer!

Why Cilantro Pesto?

Traditional pestos are made with basil… so why mess with a good thing?

Don’t get me wrong … I love basil too. We also make regular pesto at our house quite often, but cilantro pesto offers a unique flavor and some surprising health benefits!

Cilantro pesto skips the cheese, making this a great dairy-free option. I find that cilantro based pesto is an amazing alternative in spring and summer months.

Benefits of Cilantro

Cilantro has a spicy history (see what I did there), and has been used for generations. Historians even found evidence of cilantro in King Tut’s tomb!

Recent research shows that cilantro has many more benefits than just decorating the tombs of departed pharaohs though! One recent study found that cilantro may help the body remove heavy metals, especially lead. For this reason, cilantro is often included in heavy metal detox regimens.

Cilantro is also a good source of antioxidants, including quercetin. These antioxidants provide a protective effect against oxidative damage in the body. Quercetin is known for as a natural remedy for mild allergies, and cilantro grows during the peak of allergy season! Gotta love nature’s natural remedies.

Studies also show that cilantro:

  • May be helpful against anxiety and may even rival Valium in large doses
  • Helps keep blood sugar in healthy ranges and may be a beneficial food for diabetics
  • Contains antibacterial compounds that can help protect against UTIs
  • Helps support digestion

Pumpkin Seeds Pack a Nutritious Punch

Most pesto recipes use pine nuts. Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, zinc, manganese, and many other nutrients. They also contain two known DHT blockers that help prevent hair loss. These two DHT blockers, delta-7-sterine and phytosterol beta-sitosterol, make pumpkin seeds great for hair.

cilantro pesto recipe

Cilantro Pesto Recipe (Dairy Free)

A delicious cilantro pesto recipe with hints of lime, garlic, and olive oil. Pumpkin seeds provide the crunch and add healthy fats. Add this pesto to meats, eggs, salads, soup, and so much more. 
Prep Time 6 minutes
Total Time 6 minutes
Calories 174kcal
Author Katie Wells


4 servings


  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro (about 1 cup, packed)
  • 1 clove garlic (or more to taste)
  • 1 TBSP lime juice (or more to taste, I sometimes add a whole juiced lime)
  • cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Cut the toughest parts of the stems off the bunch of cilantro. Rough chop the rest and add to a mini food processor.
  • Peel garlic and add. 
  • Add lime juice. 
  • Pulse food processor a few times until cilantro is chopped but not completely fine.
  • Add pumpkin seeds and pulse 5-10 times to form a rough paste. 
  • Add the olive oil and pulse until desired consistency. 
  • Enjoy and repeat the process when you run out!


Nutrition Facts
Cilantro Pesto Recipe (Dairy Free)
Amount Per Serving (1 /4 cup)
Calories 174 Calories from Fat 161
% Daily Value*
Fat 17.9g28%
Saturated Fat 2.8g18%
Sodium 3mg0%
Carbohydrates 3.2g1%
Fiber 0.6g3%
Sugar 0.3g0%
Protein 2.9g6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


To store, keep in a small jar and top with olive oil to keep the air out so it will last longer.

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How to use this Pesto

This pesto has a much different flavor than traditional basil pesto. You can substitute cilantro pesto on pasta or chicken, but I’d recommend branching out to some of these more creative uses:

  • Add it to eggs for delicious flavor and color. Or, just add a spoonful to top an omelet.
  • Try it with roasted vegetables for a delicious flavor.
  • Use as a marinade or topping for meats or fish.
  • Garnish a soup with a dollop of pesto.
  • Add a Tablespoon to a little more oil and vinegar and shake or blend for an easy salad dressing.
  • Make a dip. Mix into sour cream, yogurt, or even cottage cheese (I use Good Culture brand because it is from grass fed cows) for a great veggie dip.
  • Add a couple spoonfuls to some mashed avocado for a new take on guacamole.
  • Eat alone as a dip or add some to the top of salads.

Are you fan of pesto? Ever experimented with cilantro in yours? Share your favorite variations below!


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Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


20 responses to “Cilantro Pesto Recipe (With Pumpkin Seeds!)”

  1. Holly Avatar

    5 stars
    Katie, do you ever freeze this and if so what is the procedure in which you use? Thank you!

  2. Tara Avatar

    Love this recipe! We make the exact same recipe, but use basil olive oil to keep the basil flavor we love….store beautifully in the fridge and doesn’t turn brown like traditional basil pesto.

  3. Erin Avatar

    I have never tried cilantro pesto – look forward to it. I have recently started making an arugula pesto with raw walnuts, and a carrot top pesto with pumpkin seeds. Same recipe as above, just sub the greens and the nuts!

    1. Martha Avatar

      Wow! Carrot top pesto sounds interesting! I’m going to try it! I make nettle pesto with walnuts. I freeze mine in ice trays & it freezes great!

  4. Dot Huntsman Avatar
    Dot Huntsman

    I love cilantro pesto. I had a recipe a long time ago as a heavy metal cleanse. It had Brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds in it and I used dried dulse powder to season it. The directions did say to limit your intake because of the brazil nuts, but it was totally amazing on Tostadas.

  5. Dotty Avatar

    Thanks for the recipe. You know it says sunflower seeds and not pumpkin, right? 🙂

  6. Karen Avatar

    I have heard about cilantro pesto before and intended to make it but never did. Thanks for a good reminder. You mention pumpkin seeds and I would like to know if they are raw or roasted. Also, the recipe says sunflower seeds in the ingredients, but pumpkin seeds in the directions.

  7. Jennie Avatar

    In the post you say you use pumpkin seeds but in the recipe it lists sunflower seeds. Which is it?

  8. Lalo Avatar

    Hi Katie, this sounds delicious and reminds me of Zhoug. I’m confused because your recipe lists sunflower seeds but your instructions talk about pumpkin seeds… an oversight? Really want to try this recipe!

  9. Mary Avatar

    The ingredients list says sunflower seeds but pumpkin seeds are listed in the directions…do you use both? Also do you use raw pumpkin seeds??
    Thanks! I’m excited to try this recipe!

  10. Dawn Avatar

    Sounds yummy. Are the pumpkin seeds raw? And are they pepitas or the other kind of pumpkin seed?

  11. Delphine Avatar

    Seeds have such a high Omega 6 content, I’d be concerned adding this recipe to my repertoire (as tasty as it sounds.)

  12. Fiona Avatar

    I am a huhe pesto fan and regularly make it with walnuts instead of pine nuts. The flavour is not much different and I find that pine nuts are very often stale….whether bulk or packaged….because of their high price.
    Your recipe sounds yummy and I will try at the next opportunity. The only thing that worries me is there doesn’t seem to be a substitute for the parmesan which gives it that extra flavour. I guess you could add salt but it’s not quite the same.

3 from 2 votes (1 rating without comment)

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