Cilantro Pesto with Chickpeas

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This cilantro pesto recipe is full of flavor with hints of sesame, lemon, and garlic. It’s nut-free too. But, full of crunch and texture from crispy, roasted chickpeas.

Cilantro Pesto With Chick Peas

If you have a love of cilantro like me, then you may periodically end up with leftover bunches taking up space in the fridge. This may or may not be exactly what happened after our Cinco de Mayo celebration. 🙂

There are plenty of terrific recipes that are greatly enhanced by this herb, such as Baked Ravioli CasseroleBlack Bean and Quinoa Soup and Caribbean Salad.

But, what if your family just doesn’t want another recipe peppered with cilantro? What’s a cilantro-loving girl to do? Don’t throw it away…make Cilantro Pesto!

Then use it to make recipes like Phyllo Wrapped Salmon, Healthy Pesto Chicken, Potato Crostini with Pesto Cheese and Vegan Rice Balls.

How to Make Cilantro Pesto

Chickpeas? Well, yes…although I do love chickpeas almost as much as I love cilantro, this inspiration is really out of necessity. My daughter has a nut allergy, so the often-used almonds were out. It turns out the little garbanzo bean is a terrific way to add taste, texture, and crunch to pesto!

Chick Peas

To crisp up the chickpeas, roast them in the oven at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Since you’re not using the whole can, doctor up the rest using this spicy roasted chickpeas recipe or this crispy curried chickpeas recipe. (And…yes, I have been wondering what would happen if I used spiced chickpeas in the recipe!)

Let me know if you beat me to this experiment!


Generally, I don’t use that much cilantro in a recipe. So, pulling the individual leaves off the stems is no big deal. But, packing 2 cups full of leaves is a whole new ball game. I used scissors to cut off the thin stem shooting off the thicker one. The offshoot stems are tender and can be thrown right into the food processor.

Cilantro Pesto with Chick Peas

Pesto is soooo easy to make. Just throw everything into a food processor and stream in the olive oil.  I only had 1 cup of cilantro so this is a half batch.

I like the advice from Oh Sweet Basil on storing pesto. I had a little jar in the fridge that did not last very long.

Brown Rice with Cilantro Pesto

There are endless ways to use pesto. Stir it into rice, pasta or vegetable soup. Spread it on a baguette or pizza crust. Slather it on chicken for a quick and tasty dinner. 

It’s like a magic condiment ready to transform your next meal!

Please rate this recipe and tag @DinnerMom or #DinnerMom on social media. We love to see what you are cooking up!

Cilantro Pesto With Chick Peas
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5 from 3 votes

Cilantro Pesto with Chick Peas

Cilantro pesto is full of flavor with hints of sesame, lemon and garlic. It's nut-free too yet full of texture and crunch from crispy, roasted chickpeas.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 Tablespoons
Calories: 80kcal


  • 1/2 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves packed
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Place chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.
  • Roast chick peas for 25-30 minutes. Chickpeas will "rattle" in the pan when done and be slightly crunchy on the outside.
  • Allow chickpeas to cool.
  • Place cilantro, garlic, chickpeas, lemon juice, sesame oil, salt and pepper into a food processor.
  • Slow stream in olive oil and pulse until the chickpeas are chopped and the mixture is a spreadable consistency.


Calories: 80kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 103mg | Potassium: 35mg | Vitamin A: 270IU | Vitamin C: 2.8mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 0.2mg
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  1. I totally dig pesto, the addition of chick peas is nice! Love that they were roasted first too!

  2. This is so different from anything I’ve seen! I absolutely love it. Can’t wait to give it a whirl!

  3. Oh, how I love the chickpea. Awesome how you used it here!

  4. I’m allergic to pine nuts, so it’s refreshing to see a pesto without them. I can’t wait to roast my own chickpeas now!

  5. This looks awesome! I love cilantro and chickpeas! Definitely going to have to try it! I would love it if you would link it up with us at Tasty Tuesdays!

  6. I’d love to mix this into quinoa!!! YUM!

  7. What a great idea!! So smart to use chickpeas!

  8. This looks fresh and fabulous!

  9. This is brilliant – I love how you crisp up the chickpeas first!

  10. This is such a unique pesto and I would have never thought to add chickpeas instead of nuts.

  11. I make tons of pesto but have never though to make cilantro pesto! I love this!

  12. Wow, cilantro pesto is an excellent idea – it sounds mouthwatering. I also love chick peas, what a perfect combination.

  13. I love the addition of the chickpeas!

  14. This is a great cilantro pesto chick peas recipe Marjory, as you know I made it a short while ago and it was lovely, in fact have made it again since. Thx for sharing!

  15. Carl in Boston says

    I used to despise cilantro, I thought it tasted like soap. I have recently discovered that I now like it! The use of toasted chickpeas is brilliant. I have made them before as a snackfood–so simple. My next trip to the supermarket will see me picking up a good bunch of cilantro to try this recipe

  16. Julia Stearns @ Healthirony says

    Absolutely love your creative idea with cilantro pesto! Can I post it on my blog? Thanks for sharing!

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