This vegan Kale Walnut Pesto is a tasty change from traditional pesto. It’s quick, easy, flavorful, and perfect all year, even the cooler months when fresh basil is hard to find. Ready in just 5 minutes!
Pesto is a great way to sneak nutritious leafy greens into your family’s diet. It will liven up almost any dish!
Use this Kale Walnut Pesto as a sauce for pasta, stir some into soup, dollop it onto a baked potato, spread it on a sandwich, or use it as a dip for raw veggies or crackers.
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Kale ~ Kale is a leafy green in the cruciferous family. It’s nutrient rich and is available year round.
Be sure to remove the tough woody ribs and stems. Wash and dry the leaves well before using.
Parsley ~ Parsley has a bright, herby taste. It’s inexpensive and readily available all year round.
If you prefer, you can substitute fresh basil.
Walnuts ~ Walnuts work great in pesto. They are mild in flavor, but add a touch of nuttiness.
Almonds can be used as a substitute.
For a nut-free option, use pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.
Nutritional yeast ~ Traditional pesto contains parmesan cheese. Nutritional yeast is a great dairy-free replacement for parmesan in this kale walnut pesto. It has a savory, nutty flavor that pairs well with the other flavors.
Oil ~ Extra virgin olive oil is preferred in pesto recipes. The flavor of the oil will come through, so use a good one.
Extras ~ Salt, garlic, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice round out the flavors.
How to make the recipe
Please scroll down to the recipe card for exact ingredient measurements and instructions.
Pulse the kale until finely chopped (1).
Add the remaining ingredients, except the oil (2).
Process until finely chopped and well combined (3).
With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until the desired consistency is reached (4). It should be somewhat saucy, but not perfectly smooth. Pesto should have some texture to it.
Storage and freezing
Fridge: Store leftover kale walnut pesto in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
Freezer: You can also freeze pesto. Pour pesto into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer the pesto cubes to a freezer-safe plastic bag or container. They will keep well for up to 6 months. This method makes it super easy to take out just what you need, quickly adding extra flavor to any dish!
Pro tips for success
~ Remove the tough, woody ribs and stems from the kale. Use only the leaves.
~ Wash the kale well and dry it thoroughly before adding to the recipe.
~ For a nut-free option, substitute pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for the walnuts.
~ For an oil-free option, use water instead of oil. The pesto won’t be as rich tasting, but you can punch up the flavors with extra salt, nutritional yeast, and/or lemon juice.
Pesto is a sauce traditionally containing pine nuts, basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, and olive oil.
Traditional pesto is made with basil, however, this walnut pesto uses kale and parsley instead.
Pesto can be bitter if it’s over-processed. Process this kale walnut pesto just until it comes together into a somewhat saucy consistency. Add additional salt, lemon juice, or nutritional yeast, if needed.
Yes! This kale walnut pesto freezes well! Pour the pesto into ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer-safe plastic bag. They will keep up to 6 months.
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Kale Walnut Pesto
- 4 cups loosely packed chopped kale ribs and stems removed
- 1 cup loosely packed parsley
- ⅓ cup raw walnuts
- 3-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1- 2 tablespoon(s) fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- water to thin, if needed
- Place chopped kale in the food processor and pulse several times to break it up.
- Add the parsley, walnuts, nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until all the ingredients are processed and mixed well, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
- With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil through the chute until the desired consistency is reached.
- Add a few tablespoons of water if you need to thin it out further.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, more salt or an extra squeeze of lemon, as necessary.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.
I love how versatile this parsley kale walnut pesto is! It goes with so many dishes! Pinning for later.
Jenn S. says
Thank you! Very versatile!
I’m always happy to find pesto recipes without cheese. This one looks great. Lots of wonderful fresh ingredients.
Jenn S. says
Thanks, Tish! No need for cheese! The pepitas help give it that “cheesy” flavor. So good!
Kathy Hester says
I love kale in pesto and like the way you use pepitas.
Jenn S. says
Thanks, Kathy! Personally, I think pepitas are a MUST in pesto!! 🙂
Sina @ Vegan Heaven says
Absolutely love it, Jenn! We have pesto at least once a week and this is such a great combo! 🙂
Jenn S. says
Bring on pesto-all-the-things! So good!! Thanks, Sina!
The Vegan 8 says
This looks excellent! I LOVE pesto and making different flavors of them! I love to add peas to mine to counteract the bitterness of kale. I love that you added pepitas, that is a great idea! How did you know they taste like cheese?? Oh, and that is so odd about pine mouth, it made me chuckle a bit at the name, not at the fact you can’t eat it. I have to agree though that pine nuts taste freaking NASTY and leave a nasty taste if they aren’t super fresh. They overpower everything if they are rancid. Anyways, I could eat a bucket of this 🙂
Jenn S. says
Thanks, Brandi! I didn’t know they gave a cheesy flavor until I used them in another pesto recipe I make and it was AWESOME! Every time after that I would use pepitas in addition to any other ingredients and it’s always the best! Like little miracle workers those seeds!! 🙂 I love the idea of using peas!!
Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health says
i love to use pesto in pizza..this one looks wonderful.
Jenn S. says
Yes!! Pesto on pizza is so good! I have individual pizza bites on the blog that use pesto..so good! Thanks, Dixya!