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5 from 8 votes

Cilantro Jalapeño Pesto

This Cilantro Jalapeño Pesto is the Mexican take on an Italian Classic. It is loaded with cilantro, jalapeño, cotija cheese, and sunflower seeds. This sauce is a great marinade or finishing sauce for chicken, shrimp vegetables, or even mixed into rice.
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Sauce/Dip
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 1211kcal
Author: Brianna May


  • 4 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1-2 jalapeños*
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds*
  • ¼ cup cotija cheese*
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • Review all recipe notes and instructions before beginning.
  • Add all of the ingredients into the food processor.
  • Pulse until smooth. Taste and add more jalapeño or salt if needed.


Jalapeño: You can remove the seeds and membrane for less heat.
Pumpkin seeds: You can swap these for an equal amount of sliced almonds.
Cotija cheese: You can swap this for an equal amount of parmesan cheese. It has a similar saltiness and taste. You can remove the seeds and membrane for less heat.
Start with one jalapeño. I recommend adding one jalapeno in to start and tasting the pesto. If you want more heat, you can always add more, but you can't go backwards.
Use the cilantro leaves and stems. No need to remove the stems, they have lots of flavor!
Pulse well. You want to make sure the pesto is completely blended and smooth.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 1211kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 125g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 15g | Monounsaturated Fat: 83g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 1618mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5g