Dairy Free/ Gluten-Free/ Low Carb & Keto/ Sauces, Dips & Dressings/ Vegetarian & Vegan

Asian Pesto Recipe (Cilantro Pesto)

This easy cilantro pesto is made with peanuts, lime and ginger. Ready to use in minutes, it has a wonderfully fresh and tangy flavor.
Asian pesto in a glass jar next to a squeezed lime, singer root and peanuts.

Last Updated on April 4, 2022 by Betty Davies

Liven up your dishes with this deliciously herby Asian pesto recipe. Made with cilantro, peanuts, lime and ginger, it’s wonderfully fresh and tangy and so easy to make. This vegan cilantro pesto is perfect when stirred into noodles or use it to flavor fish and shrimp.

A jar of Asian pesto in front of a bunch of fresh cilantro.

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Homemade pesto has such a wonderful freshness that you can’t get from jarred, and it’s crazy easy to make at home. This Asian pesto recipe is a Thai inspired twist on the original Italian sauce.

Made with cilantro instead of basil, and peanuts instead of pine nuts, this pesto is flavored with ginger, garlic and lime for a vibrant and delicious condiment.

Whip up a batch today and add some amazing flavor to your plate.

Be sure to try my Pistachio Pesto and Lemon Basil Pesto too!

Why you will love this recipe!

  • Quick and easy: It takes no more than 5 minutes to whip up a batch of this pesto from scratch.
  • Make ahead: Pesto has a great shelf life and freezes well too. The recipe is easily doubled.
  • Dietary info: This Asian pesto is vegan, gluten-free, low carb and dairy-free.
A jar of cilantro pesto next to a spoon with the pesto on.

Ingredients

  • Cilantro: Fresh cilantro gives this pesto it’s vibrant green color and replaces the traditional basil. You can use the leaves and the stems.
  • Peanuts: Peanuts replace the usual pine nuts and add a great flavor and texture. Use unsalted peanuts.
  • Garlic and ginger: Use fresh garlic and ginger for the best flavors.
  • Lime: Lime juice and zest gives this pesto a zingy flavor.
  • Sugar: Just a little helps to balance out the acidity of the lime.
  • Oil: Use a neutral oil for best results. I used canola and avocado will work well too. For a nuttier pesto, you could use sesame oil.

How to make Asian Pesto

Be sure to scroll down for the full recipe!

  • Add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor (photo 1).
  • Blend til combined and smooth (photo 2).
Two photos to show the pesto before and after blending the ingredients together.

Recipe Variations

This Asian pesto recipe is pretty delicious as it is, but you can easily adapt it to suit your tastes. If you don’t like the taste of cilantro, try swapping it for parsley or Thai basil. This pesto is not spicy at all, so if you want a bit of heat add in some crushed red chili flakes, fresh jalapeno or green chilies.

Fresh ginger and garlic is best to use, but in a pinch you could use 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder and ground ginger. If you prefer your pesto a little saltier, you can add in a small amount of soy sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth making your own pesto?

A million times yes! It takes minutes to make up a large batch and you just need a few ingredients. Making it from scratch means that you can easily adjust it to suit your tastes too.

Why is this pesto Asian?

For this pesto sauce recipe, I substituted the traditional Italian ingredients for ones commonly used in Thai cuisine. Cilantro, peanuts, lime and ginger make for a wonderful fresh and flavorful pesto that will stand out from the crowd.

Is this pesto recipe vegan?

Traditional pesto is made with parmesan, so it is not vegan, vegetarian or dairy-free, however this recipe is made without cheese and is totally plant-based.

A jar of pesto on a wooden chopping board surrounded by the ingredients used to make it.

Serving Suggestions

This Asian pesto is great to add to rice or egg noodles, or use it as a marinade for seafood and chicken.

Make Ahead and Storage

Once made, transfer the pesto to an airtight container or sealable jar. Pour a little oil over the top to help keep it fresh and it will last for two weeks in the fridge. This pesto also freezes great. Pour it into some large ice cubes and it will keep for up to 3 months, you can just thaw what you want to use or stir it straight from frozen into hot noodles.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • For a thicker pesto, use less oil. You can gradually add it in as you process the ingredients to get it to the consistency you want. For a thinner sauce, simply add more oil.
  • A stand blender works great for making homemade pesto, a food processor will work well too.
  • Use the freshest ingredients you can for the best flavor. Your cilantro should be bright green with no marks on the leaves and not wilted.
Close up of the green pesto on a spoon.

This easy Asian pesto sauce is a great way to add some flavor to your plate. Ready to use in minutes, it’s wonderfully fresh and vibrant.

More Pesto Recipes

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Asian pesto in a glass jar next to a squeezed lime, singer root and peanuts.

Asian Pesto Sauce

This easy cilantro pesto is made with peanuts, lime and ginger. Ready to use in minutes, it has a wonderfully fresh and tangy flavor.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment, Sauce
Cuisine: Asian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 206kcal
Author: Betty Davies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cilantro (packed)
  • ¼ cup peanuts (unsalted)
  • 1 large garlic clove (roughly chopped)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger (roughly chopped)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ½ cup canola oil (or another neutral oil)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Instructions

  • Add all of the ingredients to a blender.
  • Blend til smooth.
  • Use straight away or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

  • For a thicker pesto, use less oil. You can gradually add it in as you process the ingredients to get it to the consistency you want. For a thinner sauce, simply add more oil.
  • A stand blender works great for making homemade pesto, a food processor will work well too.
  • Use the freshest ingredients you can for the best flavor. Your cilantro should be bright green with no marks on the leaves and not wilted.

Nutrition

Calories: 206kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 361IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

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