Amazing Dairy-Free Cilantro Sauce for Fish, Chicken, Tofu, or Vegetables


Neither Tony nor I like cilantro, so this recipe was a big deal for us. The fresh herbs are very quickly blanched (just 10 seconds) which preserves the overall taste and brilliant green hue, but takes the grassy, bitter, or soapy edge off the flavor that bothers many people. We both loved the result it produced in this delicious and versatile dairy-free cilantro sauce. You can use it atop various plant-based and omnivorous entrees, but I’ve included one of our favorites with the recipe.

Amazing Cilantro Sauce Recipe with a Hint of Spice and a Secret Technique that Everyone (even cilantro haters!) will Love

Amazing Dairy-Free Cilantro Sauce for Fish, Chicken, Tofu, or Vegetables

This dairy-free cilantro sauce is from a halibut over roasted vegetables recipe, adapted from Epicurious. The whole dish takes minimal effort, but it looks and tastes impressive. The fish roasts atop the vegetables for ease and great presentation. When served with a generous drizzle of the lightly spicy dairy-free cilantro sauce, it’s quite pretty, and has gourmet appeal.

I originally shared the full entrée recipe about fifteen years ago. But today, I’m giving it a big update, and putting the sauce in the spotlight. In fact, it’s now the main recipe! But don’t worry, that wonderful halibut recipe is still there – in the notes of the recipe.

Amazing Cilantro Sauce Recipe with a Hint of Spice and a Secret Technique that Everyone (even cilantro haters!) will Love

Special Diet Notes: Amazing Dairy-Free Cilantro Sauce

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, and optionally paleo. The cilantro sauce itself is also plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian.

Amazing Dairy-Free Cilantro Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This brilliant sauce is bright, vibrant, just lightly spicy, and has a flavor that pairs well with various proteins and vegetables. It's fabulous drizzled on the Halibut with Roasted Vegetables recipe in the notes, but it's also great on tacos, chicken, tofu, or veggie rice bowls. This recipe is adapted from Epicurious.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: ¾ cup
  • ½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon + ¼ cup water (can sub broth), plus additional for blanching the herbs
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or gluten-free tamari (sub coconut aminos for soy-free and paleo)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  1. Prepare a bowl of ice water.
  2. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add the cilantro and parsley for just 10 seconds (to blanch them), and then drain. Plunge the herbs into the ice water to stop the cooking and then drain.
  3. Heat the 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, cumin, and red pepper flakes and saute until the shallots are softened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Scrape the shallot mixture into your blender, and add the blanched herbs, remaining ¼ cup water, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. The cilantro sauce may be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.
Halibut over Roasted Vegetables with Dairy-Free Cilantro Sauce: Preheat your oven to 450°F. Place 6 cups cubed butternut squash, 1 pound beets, and 1 medium chopped onion in a roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss to coat, and then spread in a single layer. Roast the vegetables in the middle of your oven for 25 minutes. Scatter 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves over the vegetables, and roast for 8 minutes more. Season 4 (5-ounce) halibut filets (or other white fish) with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Arrange the fish in a single layer on top of the vegetables. Roast until just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Serve drizzled with the dairy-free cilantro sauce as desired. Makes 4 servings. Nutrition per serving (without sauce): 326 calories, 6g fat, 39.6g carb, 7.2g fiber, 14.9g sugar (0g added), 33.5g protein, 611mg sodium.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 tablespoon Calories: 9 Fat: .5g Saturated fat: .1g Carbohydrates: 1g Sugar: .2g Sodium: 153mg Fiber: .2g Protein: .4g

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About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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