A Simple Formula to Freestyle Any Bright, Zingy Green Sauce

July 12, 2018

As a Florida native, where the weather is oppressively humid and sweltering hot practically year-round (but especially from June to September), I both dread and crave the summer months. I shudder at the thought of blood-thirsty mosquitos attacking every inch of my skin and the ever-climbing temperatures that make outdoor dining almost impossible. But on the other hand, summer is the time when my tastebuds come to life, when my favorite ingredients and dishes are in their prime.

I'm talking classic Cuban sandwiches, mahi mahi tacos with mango-citrus salsa, fresh key lime pie, and one of my personal go-tos, green sauce. It's vibrant, zippy, can be drizzled on just about any savory dish, and—the best part—is endlessly riffable. The formula for every type of green sauce basically goes like this:

Herbs + Fat + Acid + Salt + Heat (all to taste, of course!)

Shop the Story

Once you've got your base, the options are pretty much endless, and I'd recommend taking advantage of whatever might be growing in your garden (my basil is in its prime at the moment, so I've been making pesto at least once a week) or looks freshest at the farmer's market.

Watch: Sam Whips Up a Bright & Tangy Chimichurri

You can also take a cue from other country's interpretations on this magical equation. Here are a few examples:

Italian Pesto = Basil + Pine Nuts and Olive Oil + Lemon Juice + Parmesan Cheese + Chile Flakes (optional)

Peruvian Aji Verde = Cilantro + Mayo or Olive Oil + Lime and Vinegar + Cotija Cheese + Jalapeño and Aji Amarillo Paste

Argentinian Chimichurri = Parsley and Oregano + Olive Oil + Vinegar + Salt + Red Pepper Flakes

All you need to do after making your sauce is pair it with a rich and/or starchy food (like steak, roasted potatoes, or pasta) and you're golden. Still need some inspiration? Here are a few of my other favorite variations on green sauce, plus the types of dishes you should be drowning them in:

Green Sauce, in all its glory

Hungry yet? Give these a shot

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Maggie
  • Erin Alexander
    Erin Alexander
Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Food52.


Maggie July 29, 2018
Such a great formula! I will be making my own creations soon. Thanks for the idea!
Erin A. July 29, 2018
Thanks, Maggie! Let us know how it turns out.