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Easy Spicy Zhoug Sauce

Jul 18, 2023 | 0 comments

All you need is five minutes, a food processor and everyday ingredients to make fresh, spicy zhoug sauce. It’s so versatile, keeps well (plus you can freeze it) and it’ll transform whatever you pair it with.

Zhoug sauce in a small white bowl with a gold spoon on the side.

Fresh, spicy, very green and vibrant, zhoug is the sauce you never knew you needed. It takes about 5 minutes to make and can be used in so many different ways.

Toss through pasta, spoon over grilled meat (it’s GREAT with lamb – these juicy Greek lamb burgers or lamb koftas are fab), mix through roasted veggies, use it as a salad dressing or switch pesto out for it in this lovely orzo pesto salad or pesto potato salad.


The only ingredient you might need to pick up – depending on your spice cabinet – is cardamom, but everything else you most likely already have.

Ingredients for zhough sauce laid out on a grey marble background and labelled.
  • Cilantro (coriander). This is the traditional herb used in the sauce but I know it’s divisive. If you’re not a fan, you could use flat-leaf parsley instead.
  • Lemon. Ideally, use fresh lemon juice, but if you don’t have any, bottled will be fine.
  • Jalapenos. This is a spicy sauce so we’ll use two – if you’re worried, just use one. You could also use any green chilli.
  • Spices. We’re using ground cumin, cardamom and chilli flakes – try to use the cardamom if you can as it brings a unique flavour to the sauce, but if you can’t find any or don’t have any, you can skip it.

How to make it

Add the cilantro, lemon juice, spices, salt, jalapenos and garlic to the bowl of a small food processor or chopper. Blitz to combine into a rough paste.

Pour in the olive oil, then blitz again into a chunky sauce. Taste, and add a little more salt and lemon juice if you like. If you prefer a saucier zhoug, you can add a little more olive oil too. It’s now ready to use, and it’ll keep well for at least 1 week, stored in the fridge in a covered container.

PRO TIP: To keep the vibrant green colour from fading (which will tend to happen as the cilantro is exposed to air), press a layer of cling film directly on top of the zhoug in the container you’re storing it in, then seal with the lid.

Got a question?

Is zhoug the same as chimichurri?

It’s different – chimichurri tends to have a base of parsley and includes ingredients like red wine vinegar and oregano, so has a different flavour profile and isn’t as spicy as zhoug.

What can I use zhoug for?

Think of it as a spicy version of pesto – you can use it in much the same way. Some ideas to get you started:
– It pairs wonderfully with lamb: I use it in these juicy Greek lamb burgers and it would be fab drizzled over lamb koftas too.
– Switch out the pesto for zhoug in this orzo pesto salad or toss through pasta and top with marinated feta for an easy weeknight meal
– Drizzle over grilled fish, chicken or steak.
– Toss through roasted veggies or use as a salad dressing.
– Spoon on top of creamy hummus or labneh for a spicy twist on these mild dips.

Can I freeze zhoug?

Yes, you can! It’s a great way to preserve it. I like to use ice cube trays to freeze individual portions so it’s easy and quick to defrost, or throw it into sauce straight from frozen.

Like this recipe? You might enjoy these quick sauces too

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.

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Zhoug sauce in a small white bowl with a gold spoon on the side.

Easy Spicy Zhoug Sauce

  • Author: Kate Alexandra
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


All you need is five minutes, a food processor and everyday ingredients to make fresh, spicy zhoug sauce. It’s so versatile, keeps well (plus you can freeze it) and it’ll transform whatever you pair it with.


  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, tightly packed
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 jalapenos (or green chillies), chopped in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


  1. Blitz your ingredients. Add 1 cup of cilantro leaves, 3 peeled garlic cloves, 2 jalapenos, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor or food chopper. Blitz into a rough paste, then scrape down the sides of your bowl.
  2. Add olive oil. Pour in 1/3 cup of olive oil and blitz again, until you’ve got a lovely chunky green sauce. Taste, then add a little more salt or lemon juice if you like. If you’d like a sauce that’s a little saucier, just add a bit more olive oil and blitz again. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.


STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS: The zhoug will keep well for 1 week, stored in a covered container in the fridge. To maintain the vibrant green colour, I like to press a piece of clingfilm directly onto the surface of the sauce and then cover it with the lid. This will protect the sauce from being too exposed to the air, which causes discolouration.

INGREDIENT NOTES: Swap the cilantro for flat-leaf parsley if you’re not a fan, and if you’re worried about spice, drop the jalapeno to just 1.

  • Prep Time: 2
  • Category: sauces
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: mediterranean


  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons

Keywords: cilantro sauce, zhoug


I’m Kate, the creator behind Dished. I love creating flavour packed, simple (ish) recipes for you, designed for every day and special occasions.





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