Learn how to make the BEST Kale Pesto ... this delicious recipe is a fun twist on the classic that takes minutes to make!
Try this versatile, creative sauce on your favorite pastas, pizzas, appetizers, and more. However you use it, you're sure to love it!
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I don't know about you, but I LOVE pesto! It's ready fast, packs such a punch, and there are so may ways to use it.
While I can't get enough of the traditional basil version, it's fun to get creative, too. You really can make this simple sauce with almost any herb and lots of different greens, too.
This Kale Pesto is my most recent favorite, and I think you're going to love it just as much as I do! The flavors are fresh and bright, and it tastes delicious enough to eat by the spoon ... not that I've tried that or anything (ha).
Keep reading to learn how to make this mouthwatering pesto for yourself. It couldn't be easier, and the results are simply mouthwatering!
This easy recipe requires just a few basic ingredients. Here's what you'll need:
- Fresh Garlic
- Fresh Kale
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Parmesan Cheese
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Salt (I prefer to use Kosher Salt.)
Simple, right? Make sure to choose good quality ingredients for the best results. You can use any variety of kale for this recipe. I've used both Tuscan / dinosaur and curly, and both work great.
One thing I love about this recipe (and pesto, in general) is that it's so flexible. You can easily get creative based on what's in the pantry or your particular preferences. Here are some ideas to inspire you:
- Greens - Running low on kale? Feel free to throw in some other greens, such as spinach or even arugula.
- Herbs - Amp up the flavor by adding a handful of fresh herbs, like basil, parsley, cilantro, or mint.
- Nuts - I used walnuts here, but almost any nut, including almonds, pecans, cashews, or pine nuts, would work great.
- Nut Free - Leave out the nuts altogether, or replace them with seeds, such as pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds.
- Vegan / Dairy Free - You can easily make this recipe vegan by leaving out the Parmesan cheese. Add a little nutritional yeast in its place, if you'd like.
How to Make Kale Pesto
Ready to get started? You only need a few minutes, so let's do it!
Begin by combining the nuts and garlic in your food processor, then pulsing them together until they are finely chopped.
Next, you're going to add the chopped raw kale (make sure to discard the tough stems), olive oil, parmesan cheese, and a little lemon juice and salt to the garlic-nut mixture. Blend everything until it's smooth ... don't worry, there will still be some small flecks of green!
Taste your Kale Walnut Pesto, then add extra lemon juice and salt, if you'd like. Keep in mind when seasoning, that the flavors should pop.
And that's all there is to it ... your homemade pesto is ready to eat. Wasn't that easy?
Tip: I personally don't find kale bitter, but I know some people do. The lemon, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and nuts all really help round out the "raw" flavor of this leafy green in this recipe though.
Fresh is best, but if you're not planning to use this Kale Pesto Sauce right away, store it in a small container in your refrigerator for two to three days. Mason jars work great for this!
You can also freeze the pesto in a zip top bag (flatten it to get the air out), or if you have leftovers, in an ice cube tray (transfer the cubes to an airtight container once frozen). It should keep for about a month or two in the freezer.
How to Use It
This easy Kale Sauce is super versatile. For starters, you're going to love it on this Kale Pesto Pizza and this Kale Pesto Pasta. Both recipes were developed with this exact pesto in mind, so you know they're going to be delish!
Don't stop there there though! You can use this yummy sauce anywhere you'd use traditional pesto, so consider swirling a little in a bowl of soup, drizzling it over fresh tomatoes, or even enjoying it as a dip. My How to Use Pesto guide has 30 more recipes ideas to inspire you, too.
Then, you'll want to make these recipes—all featuring pesto—next!
- Pesto, Feta, and Veggie Pizza
- Southwest Pasta Salad
- Roasted Veggie Bowl
- Green Pizza with Pesto
- Hummus Sandwich with Pesto and Veggies
- Cilantro Pesto Pasta
- Grape, Feta, and Pesto Pizza
P.S. Check out all of my Sauce and Condiment Recipes! They're the perfect way to liven up any meal.
- 1 large clove garlic
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 2 cups chopped kale (packed)
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pulse walnuts and garlic clove in a food processor until finely chopped.
- Add kale, olive oil, Parmesan, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and salt. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Taste, then season with additional lemon juice and salt, if desired.
- Use pesto immediately or store in an airtight container in refrigerator. Enjoy!
- Herbs / Greens: Add a handful of fresh herbs (such as basil), or if you're running low on kale, toss in some spinach or even arugula.
- Vegan / Dairy Free: skip the Parmesan cheese, or replace with a nutritional yeast (to taste).
- Other Nuts: swap out the walnuts for your fave nuts, such as almonds, pine nuts, or pecans.
- Nut Free: leave out the nuts, or replace with seeds, such as pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds.