Kale Pesto, is herbaceous, cheesy, and garlicky, with a hint of citrus from lemon. It's one of our favorite nut-free pesto recipes that can pair well with everything from pasta to fish and poultry.
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❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
- Kale is an affordable veggie that makes a fabulous pesto recipe.
- Check out the health benefits of kale via the Mayo Clinic.
- Kale basil pesto freezes well so make a big batch and use it on pasta and poultry, so many choices.
- Homemade pesto has no added preservatives.
- The combination of kale and basil in the pesto creates the perfect balance of flavor.
- Being a nut-free pesto this is a great recipe for anyone with a nut allergy.
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- fresh kale
- fresh basil
- Parmesan cheese
- lemon juice
- fresh garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
- black pepper
- food processor
- mixing bowl
- measuring spoon
- wooden spoon
This is an overview of the recipe. The full instructions are below in the recipe card.
- Add all ingredients to the food processor.
2. Press the pulse button on the food processor until the ingredients are smooth and the texture is to your liking.
3. Taste for seasoning, adjust if needed. Store in a covered airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
⭐ Make ahead, storage, and freezer tips
Store the kale basil pesto in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Pesto freezes so well and can be kept in the freezer for up to 4 months. To freeze the pesto, use an ice cube tray and scoop about 2 Tablespoons of pesto into each cube holder in the ice tray.
Place the pesto-filled tray into the freezer and allow the pesto sauce to freeze, for about 1-2 hours. Once the pesto has frozen into cubes, remove them from the ice cube tray. Store in freezer-safe bags until ready to use.
Remove as many as you need. 2 Tablespoons per person is how I measure. The pesto defrosts quickly in the refrigerator. It can be added in a frozen state to most sauces.
💭 Eileen's Tips for Success
- Be sure to wash the kale and basil to remove any dirt before beginning the recipe.
- Use a salad spinner or cloth towel to dry the veggies.
- Don't use the stems in the pesto. They have too much of a bite. Place the stems in a freezer bag with other veggie scraps to make vegetable stock.
- This is a simple recipe with just a few ingredients, use the best Parmesan cheese and olive oil in your price range. It is worth it to have amazing tasting results.
📋Frequently Asked Questions
Some leafy veggies can be a bit bitter. Adding lemon to the pesto will help balance the flavors.
Kale is fairly hearty and is harvested from June to February. I freeze a lot of my kale and use it during off-season months too.
One of my favorites is Tuscan kale which is very popular in many farmer's markets and easy to grow.
Lacinato kale and curly kale are also great choices for this recipe.
Do you want to change up this recipe? Here are some ways that you increase the flavor of this dish.
We love this as is but you can spice it up by adding red pepper flakes.
Add in an avocado for hearty creamy kale pesto.
If you enjoy nuts, add in walnuts, pecans, or roasted pignoli nuts.
Adding in other leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, or beet greens would be a great pesto sauce.
If you want to add nuts to the pesto I would suggest either pine nuts, sunflower seeds, or walnuts.
If looking to keep this a Vegan recipe, use nutritional yeast in lieu of Parmesan cheese.
🥗 Serving Suggestions
Add a dash of this pesto into the pasta for Chicken Bellagio, yum.
Substitute this pesto sauce on this Flatbread Pizza.
Use the pesto as a sandwich spread. It would be awesome on this veggie burrito
We love to add a bit of pesto into soups like this Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana.
Greek yogurt flatbread would be yummy with a smear of pesto on it.
Mix some into your homemade mashed potatoes for a nice change.
Grilled Pesto Chicken would be just as delicious using this veggie pesto.
🍽 Similar recipes
If you are like me and are a Kale Lover, try Kale Chips, so good and easy.
Kale Pomegranate Salad is a favorite for many as well.
One of my most popular recipes is the Easy Homemade Basil Pesto. It is so easy and also a nut-free pesto.
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If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card you can adjust the measurements up or down for the exact number of servings you need.
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Kale Pesto Recipe
- 3 cups chopped kale Note 1
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese Note 2
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In the bowl of a food processor using the blade attachment, add the kale, basil, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice.
- Add in about ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
- Blend until everything is broken down and smooth.
- Taste for seasoning, if needed adjust seasoning. (Note 3)
- Store the pesto in an airtight covered container in your refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.