Pasta with Cilantro-Peanut Pesto

This might be my new favorite pasta dish.  If you’re a fan of our Thai Peanut Noodles, you’ll probably love this one too.  It’s pretty quick and easy to put together, so it makes a great meatless main dish, or a side dish (try it with our Thai Beef Skewers) or you could toss in some grilled chicken or steak for a one-dish dinner.  The profile is bright and fresh and perfectly summery.  While a traditional pesto starts out with loads of fresh basil- this version uses cilantro instead.  Don’t bother picking the leaves off the stems; cilantro stems are tender and flavorful, so chop them up with the leaves.

Then we add tons of flavor: sesame oil, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, garlic, lime juice, lime zest, soy sauce and fresh ginger.  Instead of pine nuts in an Italian pesto, we’re tossing peanuts in this one.

Pop everything except for the soy sauce in a food processor

And process it until it looks like a pesto, fairly smooth but with pieces of cilantro and peanuts still.  Add in a little soy sauce at the end.

That’s it folks.  Toss that pesto with hot pasta; sprinkle it with a little chopped peanuts and cilantro and you’re good to go.  I like a little fresh squeeze of lime juice too.  The pesto itself it super yummy over grilled steak too.

 The flavors are so fantastic; it’s like you can taste every little ingredient in there; the sweetness of the sugar and ginger, a hint of spice from the pepper flakes, the roasted crunch of the peanuts and a little freshness and tang from the lime juice and cilantro.  Try it; you’ll love it!

PS- One tip I have is to serve it immediately.  As with many pasta dishes, the longer it sits, the pasta absorbs the sauce and the flavors mellow.  Leftovers still taste great, but the fresher the better.



  1. Love the Everyday Food Magazine, and I had this on my list of recipes to try — it’s good to know it was a success!

  2. I totally understand and vouch for your suggestion not to mix it in with the pasta until time to serve, but how far ahead do you think you could make the pesto and maybe refrigerate until ready to use? I’d love to make this at home and then take it with us to the beach…

  3. I am finally at a point in my life where my taste buds have changed and I actually like cilantro. I hated it for so long! This recipe looks and sounds delicious and I will be trying it soon!

  4. So…I’m pretty slow about finding awesome food blogs (kinda behind the curb here 😉 but holy crap I am reaaaally enjoying your site!! So great to see yummy healthful recipes presented in such a beautiful way. Very nice work and nice to finally stumble upon you!!

  5. This looks delicious, but I’m on a low fat diet. Do you think it would change the taste too much if I replaced the vegetable oil with EVOO?

  6. This was delicious!! Peanut noodles are on frequent rotation here, and this was even better. Fresher. Amazing. Lime zest made the flavor just pop. My new summertime go-to meal. Thank you! 🙂

  7. We just went to our FAV Thai Restaurant last night in San Francisco which is about 1 1/2 hours away. We don’t get to go very often 🙁 I was telling my husband I can just drink the Satay peanut sauce. Is that weird?? anyway I love the sauces but can’t seem to get them right when I get home. Thanks for this recipe I can’t wait to try it.

  8. Wow your dish is so attractive the picture which you have updated are so good which is decorative too. And you have given a good pasta to try it.. Thanks a lot..

  9. Wow, the recipes looks wonderful and yummy! I am so sure it will be another one of my favorite recipes. Once again, thank you….

  10. I made this tonight for dinner and it was fast, easy, and delicious. This recipe is going into my permanent rotation!

  11. Wow! 2/2 on this site! So excited! I made this since I had all of the leftovers from for Thai noodle dish and this was really, really good! Instead of sesame oil (which I didn’t have), I used olive oil and I also added about a tablespoon of Siracha because I am totally into everything spicy right now and it was FAB! Def will make again! Thank you, I love this site!!!

  12. I’ve really been going out on a limb and trying new recipes, but I have to be totally honest, I didn’t love this one. I thought the cilantro was WAY too overpowering. The texture was PERFECT, but I didn’t love the taste. 🙁

  13. This sound very yummy. I normally stuck wondering what to do with extra cilantro when I need it to make salsa, so its great knowing I have another tasty recipe to try!

  14. Do you think any other nuts would sub in well in this pesto? My 6-year-old has a peanut allergy, so peanuts are a no-go–but he can have other nuts/legumes so I’d love to find a substitute as this sounds amazing!

    1. Well, regular pesto is made with pine nuts so that would work well. It’s not quite as “Thai” but the flavor and texture would still be great 🙂

  15. I’ll admit I didn’t LOVE this. It was just ok. Not like the Thai peanut noodles, which just became one of my favorite meals. But I had leftover cilantro peanut pesto, so I put it in a jar in my fridge. Tonight I made grilled pizza. I wanted chicken pizza with regular basil pesto. Yum! But I accidentally grabbed this cilantro pesto instead of my regular. I was so bummed when I realized it–Until I tasted it. Yum! I liked it a lot better on the pizza than the pasta. Maybe I’ll have to try adding some Thai toppings next time. 🙂

  16. THIS WAS COPIED FROM EPICURIOUS (“Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa”, same ingredients, same order of ingredients listed, with minor variations on amounts). YOU SHOULD EITHER FIND YOUR OWN RECIPE OR PROPERLY CITE YOUR SOURCE.

  17. I hate to give a bad report but that is what this dish was – bad. It tasted like a lime was blended up and thrown in noodles. All of the other flavors were completely missing except for the intense bitterness of the lime zest. It was so strong that after we rinsed off the noodles to try and salvage dinner people could still taste the lime. We have always had great success with OurBestBites recipes but this one is not one to be recommended.

  18. Just made this, sooo awesome! I tweeked it a bit though, used cashews instead of peanuts. And used organic spinach fettuccine noodles instead. Turned out pretty amazing.

  19. I love making pesto out of other ingredients other than basil and pine nuts! I have used spinach and almonds, arugula and pecans and I have used cilantro and peanuts but not together. This sounds so good especially with the other sauce ingredients. Can’t wait to try it!

  20. I FINALLY tried this recipe, after seeing it a couple of months ago. Needless to say, I wish I’d done it sooner. It was a huge hit at my house. Everyone raved about how the flavors just popped. Thank you!!

  21. This recipe is simple and fantastic. If we’re eating with the kids, I go easy on the ginger and red pepper flakes to cool it off a notch. I make a double batch of the sauce to freeze, then I only have to thaw the pesto and cook some noodles for dinner. Delicious!

  22. I made this as soon as I found your recipe…today! So easy, simple, and yummy! I just added extra lime ’cause I love the zing!

  23. As stated in a previous comment, the overwhelming flavor of lime made this almost unbearable. With perhaps some tweaking this could be an ok recipe but as it is now it is unfinished and does not have a the consistency and composure that you would want from a pasta sauce

    Would NOT RECOMMEND this to anyone else

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