Culantro Pesto | Asian Crack Sauce

Culantro leaves, garlic cloves, whole red Thai chilies and a small white dish with a green sauce, all sitting on a pretty wood board.
This Culantro Asian Crack Sauce may be your new favorite sauce that you didn’t know you wanted.

We Call it Asian Crack Sauce for a Reason

This Culantro Pesto Asian Crack Sauce is just about as addictive as actual crack. It’s kinda like an Asian version of my Chimichurri Sauce, but it’s made with culantro instead of cilantro, and includes several other “Asian” ingredients. I have not found another recipe on-line that has these combined ingredients or even similar. This amazing Asian Crack Sauce as I’ve decided to call it, goes well on so many things. I especially like it on chicken, beef, pork or fish, but I’ve actually eaten it simply mixed into a bowl of rice and topped with sliced cucumbers. Leftovers get a whole new life in my kitchen. 

Culantro leaves, garlic cloves, whole red Thai chilies all sitting on a pretty wood board.
Culantro leaves are like cilantro on steroids. You can use the stems and the leaves.

We always try new food

My hubby and I were invited to our friend’s house for lunch, and he is a chef from Malaysia. He knows we will try anything, so he doesn’t really have to think about whether we will eat what he serves or not. He made a sauce very similar to this one and said it was Culantro Pesto. I thought he was just pronouncing “cilantro” incorrectly because I had never even heard of culantro. He has never really told me the exact recipe or ingredients, but this tastes VERY close to his and he really liked it when I served it with my Grilled Chinese Five Spice Chicken Wings [recipe coming soon] at our house. 


How to Make this Awesome Crack Sauce…

Culantro leaves, garlic, red chilies, other spices and oil in a food processor.

Tear culantro into large chunks, peel garlic cloves, chop Thai red chilies and add all to a food processor. Add all other ingredients except oil and pulse. scrape sides, pulse some more. Pour oil through the hole in the processor lid while it’s running until you reach desired thickness. Taste and adjust if needed.

Jar of homemade culantroHand holding a jar of green pesto asian crack sauce.
Store in a jar for about a month if it doesn’t get eaten first. Put that stuff on everything – even a spoon will do. You’re welcome.

Culantro leaves, garlic cloves, whole red Thai chilies and a small white dish with a green sauce, all sitting on a pretty wood board. There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.

Other Amazing Green Sauces You Might Like


Italian Basil Pesto with Walnuts

bright green homemade basil pesto in a clear glass bowl with a sprig of fresh basil on the rim of the bowl. There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.
This Basil Pesto is made with walnuts instead of pine nuts. 1/3 the price and high in omega 3’s. When I switched, nobody even noticed. #winwin

Delicious Chimichurri 

Grilled sweet potatoes, asparagus & pork tenderloin
Chimichurri is taste great on this Chili Lime Pork Tenderloin as much as well as everything else on the plate.

Foraged Stinging Nettle Pesto 

Stinging nettle pesto spread onto two small slices of pretzel bread, sitting on a small bamboo cutting board.
I love it slathered on any type of bread, but this time it was pretzel bread. YUM! We also have a shrimp and pesto pizza recipe that’s amazing.


Culantro leaves, garlic cloves, whole red Thai chilies and a small white dish with a green sauce, all sitting on a pretty wood board. There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.

Culantro Pesto | Asian Crack Sauce

Stacey Mincoff
This Asian Crack Sauce is spicy and garlicky with Chinese five spice, sesame oil and fish sauce, you’re going to want to put it on everything, so make a double batch. 
Total Time 10 mins
Cuisine Asian
Servings 1 Cup
Calories 1098 kcal


  • Food Processor


  • 4 Ounces Culantro (about 2 cups fresh)
  • 5 Teaspoons Garlic (about 5 large cloves)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon White Pepper (ground)
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Honey (mirin, sugar or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Thai Red Chili (or more if you want it spicier)
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Fish Sauce
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Purée all ingredients with a food processor. Sometimes I add additional chopped Thai red chilies after it’s been puréed just to see bigger bits in the mix. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator – it will last for about a month if you don’t devour it before then. Tastes great on just about anything.


Culantro is most commonly found in Asain, Latin or International markets, but if you can't find it, you can substitute cilantro. However, you might want to add more since culantro has a stronger flavor than cilantro. 


Calories: 1098kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 4gFat: 115gSaturated Fat: 9gSodium: 410mgPotassium: 651mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 7739IUVitamin C: 58mgCalcium: 116mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Asian Crack Sauce, Culantro Pesto, Quick and Easy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Can I use Culantro instead of cilantro?

Yes, but know that although culantro and cilantro are very similar, they are not the same. They smell and taste very much alike, but culantro has a bit more pungent flavor so you might want to add more cilantro if your recipe calls for culantro. 

Can I cook Culantro or Cilantro?

Culantro has a stronger flavor and can withstand the heat of cooking unlike cilantro, which is more delicate, and is always added at the end of the cooking process. 

What are other names for Culantro?

The binomial or Latin name for this tropical perennial herb is Eryngium Foetidum, it is also known as recao, shadow beni, Mexican coriander, bhandhania, long coriander, sawtooth coriander and ngò  gai. 

Where does Culantro come from?

It is a native plant to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. It’s cultivated worldwide – a perennial in warmer tropical areas and an annual in climates that have cooler seasons.

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