Sub Out The Pesto For This Zhoug Sauce

September 18th, 2023 by

Woman cutting fresh green cilantro at black table, closeup

While pesto may be a tasty staple in your kitchen, anything can get old after using it over and over. Sub out the northern Italian sauce with another delicious green sauce – Zhoug! Originating from Yemen, Zhoug is an herbaceous sauce typically composed of cilantro and parsley with a kick from a medley of spices that includes coriander, cumin, and chili peppers as well as fresh garlic. If you would like to know how to make your own homemade Zhoug sauce, then try this recipe from The Almond Eater.


  • 2 cups of fresh cilantro
  • 2 large jalapeños or 4 small jalapeños
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • ¾ teaspoon of cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of cardamom
  • ½ cup of olive oil

You will also need to make sure that you have a food processor to mix all the ingredients together. If you do not have a food processor, then you substitute it with a blender. When you are shopping for the ingredients, you should be able to find these ingredients and spices in the local grocery store. However, if you have trouble, then try opting to visit your city’s international market. These food stores often carry special food items not found in a regular, domestic grocery store.

Making the Zhoug Sauce

To make the Zhoug sauce, you will want to start by having all of your ingredients laid out. While you will be using a food processor or blender, you still will need to finely chopping the cilantro, garlic, and peppers. When you chop the jalapeños, you will want to remove but reserve the seeds. As you chop the garlic cloves, it is a good rule of thumb to remove the germ or sprout that is in the center of the clove. The germ if left can alter the taste of the garlic.

After chopping the cilantro, garlic, and peppers, add everything to the food processor, minus the olive oil. You will then pulse the ingredients for just fifteen seconds. While the processor is still blending after those fifteen seconds, you will slowly add the olive oil to the mix, pulsing for about thirty seconds until you have a smooth sauce. That is it! Now, do not be afraid to play around to make the Zhoug sauce your own. You can spice it up by adding the jalapeño seeds you saved or adding more red pepper flakes. 

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How You Can Use Zhoug Sauce?

You can incorporate Zhoug in a variety of dishes. Use it to marinate meats or vegetables or as a spread for sandwiches or wraps. It also serves as a scrumptious dipping sauce for bread and crackers. The possibilities are endless as Zhoug is so versatile, so why not try subbing it in your favorite pasta dish or flatbread recipe where you would usually use pesto. Zhoug can give any dish that extra kick it needs to provide delicious flavor. Invite your friends and family over for dinner the next time you serve a dish with Zhoug, and you are sure to impress!


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