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Kale pesto in a bowl atop a white plate. There is a spoon in the pesto. Surrounding the plate are walnuts, pine nuts, fresh basil & kale.

Damn Good Kale Pesto with Walnuts & Pine Nuts

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauces & Condiments, Pasta Recipes
  • Method: No-Cook, Blender
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Made with walnuts, garlic, parmesan, lemon, & olive oil, this hearty kale pesto is loaded with superfood benefits – nutrient-rich, loaded with fiber & antioxidants, & great for digestion. Kale basil pesto is a versatile fridge staple that pairs with anything from pasta to a simple summer vinaigrette (or even a turkey burger!). Naturally vegetarian, easily vegan & dairy-free.


  • 2 cups firmly packed chopped kale (roughly 3.25 ounces)
  • 2 cups firmly packed basil leaves & tender stems (roughly 3 ounces)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested & juiced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ⅓ cup walnuts, toasted 
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted 
  • ⅓ cup finely grated parmesan
  • optional: up to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to tasteKale pesto ingredients arranged on a white surface: basil, lemons, kale, pine nuts, walnuts, parmesan, lemon zest, salt, olive oil, red pepper flakes & kale.


  1. Prep the kale pesto: Add the olive oil, lemon zest & juice, garlic, walnuts, & pine nuts to the jar of a high-speed blender. Blend 5-10 seconds, roughly breaking down the nuts. Add the parmesan, kale, & basil to the blender, & blend until combined. Taste and season with additional salt, ground black pepper, or crushed red pepper flake, as desired. Quick tips: It’s very helpful to add the greens in batches, using the tamper to tamp the greens down into the blades. Stop to scrape down the sides of the blender jar as needed. I use the Enfinigy Power Blender’s preprogrammed ‘cocktail’ setting & the pesto comes together as a thick, vibrantly green sauce in about 45 seconds – 1 minute. [gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="17688,17682"]
  2. Serve: Enjoy your kale pesto immediately. It’s, of course, great tossed into your favorite pasta dishes. (this Pesto Pasta with Seared Scallops is one of my all-time favorites). It’s also great in breakfast burritos, drizzled over a gorgeous summer salad, whipped into an herbaceous aioli, folded into a turkey burger, & so much more. Get creative & have fun with it – sky’s the limit!Kale basil pesto in a jar, with a spoon in it. The jar sits atop a white surface surrounded by lemon wedges & shredded kale.


  • Storage: This kale pesto will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week. 
  • Freezer: To freeze kale pesto, store in a freezer safe container (these are my favorite!) for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator a day before you’d like to use it. 
  • Easy variations:
    • Dairy-free & vegan kale pesto – Omit the parmesan cheese, or replace it with 1 heaping tablespoon of nutritional yeast to mimic the cheesy flavor.
    • Nut-free kale pesto –Simply omit the walnuts & pine nuts, or replace with an equal amount of hemp seeds.
    • Food processor kale pesto – If you do not have a high-speed blender, you can also prep kale pesto using a food processor. Note, the texture will be a little thicker & more rustic, but it’ll still be tasty! To make in a food processor, simply place the kale, basil, walnuts, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, lemon zest, & crushed red pepper flake (if using), in the food processor. Place the lemon juice & olive oil in a liquid measuring cup. Pulse to roughly chop & combine the kale mixture. Once chopped into fine pieces, slowly stream in the olive oil mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed. The pesto should come together as a thick, vibrantly green sauce. Taste and season with additional salt or ground black pepper, as desired.

Keywords: Kale pesto, easy, healthy, vegetarian, gluten-free