Salsa verde and chimichurri are both green sauces that are served cold as a dip or condiment. They're bright and herbaceous, thanks to the addition of fresh herbs. The color and flavor each sauce offers makes them both popular in many parts of the world.
If you’d like to know how chimichurri and salsa verde differ then keep reading. We’ve created a handy comparison guide so that you never get them mixed up in the kitchen.
What’s the difference between salsa verde and chimichurri?
Mediterranean salsa verde is a vibrant green sauce commonly made from olive oil, parsley, basil, capers, anchovy, garlic, onion, and vinegar or lemon juice. Chimichurri is an Argentinean green sauce made with ingredients like olive oil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar, shallots, and chili.
- Spanish or Italian salsa verdes have a briny, punchy taste thanks to the capers, anchovies, and vinegar.
- Chimichurri has an herbaceous, spicy flavor thanks to the addition of cilantro and chili.
- Recipes for each sauce vary so there is often overlap between their ingredients.
- Mexican green salsa contains tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro, and sugar. It is a spicy, sweet type of salsa verde.
Uses in the kitchen
Salsa verde is excellent used as a topping for eggs, tacos, burritos, fish, lamb chops, chicken, and steak. At the start of a recipe, use it as a marinade to season virtually any meat or vegetables. Salsa verde is also delicious served in a dish alongside vegetable sticks or tortilla chips as a dipping sauce.
The herbal flavors in chimichurri make this sauce good for drizzling over grilled meat, especially flank, hanger, or skirt steak. It also works well with fish, chicken, pizza, and pasta. Mixing chimichurri with mayonnaise or hollandaise will transform the green sauce into a flavor-packed creamy dip.
Ingredients in different types of green sauces
Green sauces are quick and easy to make. Simply toss all the ingredients into a food processor and blend. You don’t want to overprocess everything until smooth though; aim for a chunky consistency.
Italian salsa verde: olive oil, parsley, basil, capers, anchovy, garlic, onion, and vinegar or lemon juice
Chimichurri: olive oil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar, shallots, and chili.
French sauce verte: mayonnaise, spinach, parsley, dill, tarragon, chives, garlic, lemon juice
Mexican green salsa verde: tomatillos, cilantro, white onions, garlic, chili, lime juice
Chermoula: Olive oil, garlic, cumin, coriander, parsley, toasted seeds, lemon juice and zest, paprika, red pepper flakes.
Interesting reading: Take a look at our comparison of cilantro and parsley.
Salsa verde is thought to be at least 2000 years old and was created in the Near East. The Romans took the recipe to Italy, before exporting it to Germany and France.
Mexican salsa verde was invented by the Aztecs during the period of 1300-1521.
Chimichurri is a much more recent creation, originating in Argentina during the 1800s. Although various stories surround its invention, the most popular belief is that an Irish immigrant, James McCurry, was the creator. He was missing a popular sauce in Ireland, Worcestershire, and created a new condiment using local ingredients. [source]
Related reading: Check out our comparison of Worcestershire and steak sauce.
Commonly asked questions
Can chimichurri and salsa verde be used interchangeably?
Each sauce has similar base ingredients, like parsley and olive oil, making them suitable for replacing each other in cooking. However, if you have a blender or food processor at home, they’re both simple sauces to make. You’re better off using the suggested sauce in a recipe if you’re after authentic flavor.
What is the difference between pesto and chimichurri?
Pesto is a green Italian paste commonly made from olive oil, garlic, basil, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. It has a rich, salty flavor and is often tossed through pasta. Chimichurri is a chunkier sauce from Argentina and is made from olive oil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar, shallot, and chili. It has a more acidic, herbaceous flavor that is more commonly served with grilled beef and other types of meat.
Are salsa and salsa verde different?
In the United States, salsa is a type of red condiment that combines tomatoes, onions, and chili. Its tomatoey flavor can range in heat from mild to hot and spicy. Salsa verde is a green sauce made from tomatillos, cilantro, white onions, garlic, chili, lime juice.
What is the difference between chimichurri and gremolata?
While they are both green sauces, chimichurri has more acidity and spiciness with a greater depth of flavor. Gremolata is traditionally a simpler sauce with a grassy, citrusy flavor profile. It is made from a basic combination of olive oil, parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.
What can I use as a salsa verde substitute?
Whether you're cooking Mexican or Italian, check out our salsa verde substitute guide for all the answers.
Chimichurri and salsa verde are one of the healthiest sauces you can serve at the table. They both use parsley which is packed with vitamin A, C, and K as well as antioxidants. Olive oil is high in healthy monounsaturated fats as well as antioxidants.
Are you trying to reduce your sugar intake? Green sauces are a much better option than ketchup for dolloping on your next steak.
Salsa verde and chimichurri are both cold sauces that add freshness and acidity to your food. They’re perfect for cutting through heavy meat and make a tasty dip when entertaining.
While each sauce is popular for its flavor, chefs also love its simplicity. Instead of simmering a demiglace or gravy, green sauces require no cooking - they can be whipped up in a few minutes. They’re also no-fail options, unlike other cooked sauces that can easily be oversalted.
If you’d like to discover more ways to add flavor to meals, be sure to check out our guide to homemade sauce.