This chimichurri marinated steak is easy to make, tender and packed with delicious garlicy herb flavor. Perfect for an easy, flavorful meal, and a great way to make the most of a cheaper cut.
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In the summer in particular, I find that I often run short on time before dinner as we are out and about, so it's often helpful to have something quick to make and/or prepared ahead.
For me, marinating is often one of the ways I get ahead of things. Beef bulgogi and chicken satay are some favorites where with a little bit of prep, you have a tasty main that cooks up in no time. And this is another great choice, too.
Chimichurri is great as a sauce in it's own right, but it's great as a marinade, too. In particular, it's great to use with less 'prime' cuts to make them a little more tender, as well as adding flavor.
Even just a short marinade will get to work a little to help things along. Then of course make sure to have extra sauce to add alongside as you serve.
What is chimichurri?
In case you're not familiar, chimichurri is a South American sauce made with fresh herbs, garlic, vinegar and chili, originally from Argentina.
You'll find a few variations in the ingredients, particularly as it has become more popular elsewhere. The herbs can vary, amongst other things, as can proportions.
Most traditional versions, though, use a base of parsley, garlic, wine vinegar and oil along with typically dried oregano and red pepper flakes. Some use a little lemon in place of part of the vinegar, but it will always be wine vinegar (typically red).
It's a herb-heavy sauce that you can make in a food processor, but traditionally you chop the herbs by hand that bit more texture.
I've shared a meal serving grilled butternut squash, zucchini and steak with chimichurri before, which was really delicious as well, but you can also use it as a marinade, as I do here.
Tips for making chimichurri marinated steak
First, you make the chimichurri sauce which is best made a bit ahead of time to let the flavors mingle a little. Then, add some to the meat to help inject it with that delicious flavor.
Here I used flank steak, but skirt steak would also work well. Marinating helps to tenderize the meat, so this method is perfect for one of these 'lesser' cuts that can be a little trickier to cook, is a little leaner but with plenty flavor.
Chimichurri is very herb-heavy, so to use it as a marinade it's best to thin it out a little, so I like to add a little extra citrus and olive oil. Being an acidic marinade, you don't want to leave it on the meat for too long - up to 2 hours is plenty. Even just 20 - 30 minutes will help it get to work.
Then, grill for just a few minutes on each side, let it rest and slice. Be sure to slice it across the grain (as in photo below and video) to ensure it's as tender as possible.
How to store chimichurri sauce
While this is already a dish that you can prepare ahead, you can do so even more by making extra chimichurri sauce when you get a chance. You can store leftover in a container in the fridge for a week or two, or else you can freeze it.
The easiest way to freeze the sauce is to put portions in an ice cube tray, then transfer the cubes to a freezer bag once frozen. They'll keep up to 3 months then defrost as many cubes as you need in the fridge the day before you need them.
Instead of steak, you can also use the sauce as a marinade for sirloin tips, for example, then make skewers with them - mixed in with veggies like pepper they become colorful and great to serve guests.
You can also marinade other proteins with the sauce, such as chicken or shrimp. Chicken marinates about the same time as beef, but reduce the time for shrimp to no more than an hour.
The sauce is also great with many vegetables such as potatoes, grilled portobello mushrooms (as we served here), zucchini, eggplant and/or pepper.
This chimichurri marinated steak has so much delicious, fresh flavor but is easy to make too. The sauce adds so much flavor to the meat and helps make it wonderfully tender, too. It's a great core element to a summer meal that you'll want to make again and again. And being so quick and easy, there's no excuse not to.
Try these other marinading and grilling ideas:
- Tandoori shrimp (prawns - mild but delicious flavors, and so easy, too)
- Lamb shish kebab (a great all-round lamb marinade)
- Sosaties (South African lamb and apricot kebabs - less common flavors but so good)
- Anticuchos de carne (Peruvian chili-marinated skewers)
- Plus get more summer recipes in the archives.
Chimichurri marinated steak
For chimichurri sauce
- ½ cup finely chopped parsley (about ½ bunch, or a little more to taste)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or use around double if fresh)
- 1 ½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice or lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 dash salt
- ¼ cup olive oil or a little more as needed
For rest of dish
- ¾ lb flank steak 340g, or skirt steak (a bit more is fine)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ahead of time
- Make the sauce by finely chopping the parsley and garlic, then combine both with the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate to let the flavors mingle, a few hours or overnight.
- Around 30 minutes to 2 hours ahead of when you want to cook, place the steak in a freezer bag or plastic container. Add two tablespoonfuls of the chimichurri and the additional 1 tablespoon of oil and lemon juice and spread all over the steak. If you are using a box, you can spread 1 tablespoon over each side of the steak, add the oil and lemon and then spread on both sides to be well coated.
When ready to cook
- Pre-heat the grill or a grill pan to a medium-high heat. Let the steak come to room temperature then cook for around 3 - 5 minutes on each side, depending on how thick the piece of steak is and how well done you prefer the steak.
- Once cooked, let the steak sit for around 5 minutes on a cutting board, tented with foil if you prefer, before slicing, across the grain of the meat.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
This post was first shared in August 2016 and has been updated, including adding new photos and video.