Chimichurri Sauce: The Classic Argentinian Condiment

Chimichurri sauce is often referred to simply as chimichurri. It is likely the most famous culinary preparation from Argentina but little is known about its origin. Most food historians believe Argentine cowboys — called gauchos — to be the inventors of chimichurri sauce. The gauchos raise the cattle that provide Argentina’s world-famous beef. They would also grill beef out on the Argentine grasslands called the pampas and season it with chimichurri sauce.

The chimichurri name has more than one possible origin story. One is that it comes from Irish men who referred to the sauce as a curry. It is also said that it comes from the name Jimmy McCurry, an Irishman whose name the Argentine locals supposedly had trouble pronouncing.

Another theory is that it comes from a Basque word tximitxurri, which is pronounced similar to chimichurri. Tximitxurri means mixture. Another Basque word that may have given rise to it is zurrumurru, which means noise. Chimichurri’s etymological roots may also lie in a Spanish term for hubbub: chirriburri.

Chimichurri sauce flavor profile

Chimichurri sauce’s main ingredient is flat-leaf parsley, which is also the source of much of its flavor profile as well as the bright-green color.

Beyond the focus on parsley, there are a great many variants within Argentina. Other common ingredients include garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Traditional Argentine versions of chimichurri sauce won’t have cilantro but many variants outside the country do; cilantro enhances the sauce’s brightness. You will also have liquid ingredients including oil and red wine vinegar.

While the more authentic versions of chimichurri sauce use red wine vinegar as the source of acidity, some versions do use fresh lime or lemon juice. The result in most versions is a savory, acidic seasoning mix with a strong herbaceous profile from the parsley as well as a eucalyptus note from the oregano and a deep earthy background note from the garlic.

Most versions of chimichurri sauce are relatively mild but some will be hot including a few that are very hot.

Health benefits of chimichurri sauce

Because the ingredients list can vary so much, the nutritional value of chimichurri can differ quite a bit from recipe to recipe. Below are some nutrients that you might get from a chimichurri sauce made with the most common ingredients:

  • Vitamins: Parsley is a good source of vitamins A, C and K. Lime or lemon juice will also add to the sauce’s vitamin C content.
  • Minerals: Parsley is a good source of iron, magnesium and potassium.

Chimichurri sauce in your diet will help to treat or prevent health problems like:

  • Inflammation: The vitamin C and other antioxidants in chimichurri sauce can help to treat inflammation, which means it can provide relief from a variety of serious diseases.
  • Poor bone health: Vitamin K and various minerals in chimichurri sauce can help to strengthen bones and reduce the risk of fractures.

Common uses

The traditional way to use chimichurri sauce is on cuts of beef including steaks like strip and flank steaks as well as organ meats. The meat is usually cooked over an open fire. In less traditional settings, chimichurri is served along with meat that has been fried in a skillet. You can also use the chimichurri as a marinade.

Chimichurri’s use is not limited to beef as it will work on most other meats that you want to grill or pan-fry including pork, chicken, and even fish.