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Kale And Walnut Pesto Recipe

Kale And Walnut Pesto is a delicious and frugal alternative to traditional pesto. You can use it on chicken, with pasta, on bread, and more.

This is a really delicious vegetarian dip. For more ideas, check out all our vegetarian recipes.

Pesto in a bowl with the words "Kale And Walnut Pesto" digitally written on top.

To say I’m obsessed with this kale and walnut pesto is an understatement. I like it so much better than traditional pesto.

Pesto is traditionally basil and pine nuts, neither of which is cheap. So it’s not cheap to buy and it’s not cheap to make at home either.

This kale and walnut pesto has, well, kale and walnuts instead of basil and pine nuts, respectively. I say respectively, but I think your brain could have figured that out.

Kale on a cutting board with the words "Budget-Friendly Kale Recipes" digitally written on top.

For more things to do with kale, check out our list of Budget-Friendly Kale Recipes.

Kale And Walnut Pesto Recipe

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Kale And Walnut Pesto Ingredients:

How To Make Kale And Walnut Pesto:

Kale in a measuring cup.

Wash the kale and remove the leaves from the stem. Chop it into slightly smaller pieces.

Kale, walnuts, and garlic in a blender.

Add the kale, garlic, walnuts, and lemon juice in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Olive oil being poured into a blender with kale pesto.

Pour in the olive oil and stir.

You want to stir in the olive oil. Don’t pulse it in the blend and especially don’t blend it. Doing so will release bitter tasting micronutrients that will turn your pesto bitter. Gently stirring won’t cause this to happen.

Parmesan cheese being poured into a blender with kale pesto.

Pour in the parmesan cheese, pepper, and salt, then stir until combined.

Kale Pesto in a bowl.

Kale And Walnut Pesto: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to use a blender to make Kale And Walnut Pesto?

Sort of.

So, you don’t have to use a blender. You can use a food processor to make Kale And Walnut Pesto instead.

But, you can’t make it without using one of these tools. You need something that will really break down the kale until it’s smooth, and that’s not something you can do by hand or with any sort of stand mixer because you won’t be able to pulverize the kale.

Should nuts be toasted for pesto?

Many pesto recipes call for toasting the nuts, and letting them cool, before adding them to the blender. Those recipes say it enhances the flavor.

Personally, I don’t do it because I don’t think it makes that big of a difference.

I’ve done this kale pesto with walnuts that were toasted and with raw nuts, and other pesto recipes with toasted and raw nuts, and the difference is so small.

But — and this is a big but — nuts burn quickly. It’s really easy to overtoast them. And then you end up with a burnt flavor in your pesto or you end up throwing those away (and nuts are too expensive to waste). So, you can toast the nuts if you want to, but you don’t have to.

How do you fix bitter kale pesto?

If you blend the olive oil, even though we said not to, instead of mixing it by hand, you run the risk of a bitter pesto.

If your kale pesto tastes bitter, you can add a little more parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt to the pesto, then stir it together — by hand.

You could also add a tiny bit of baking soda to the pesto to take away some of the bitterness. Be careful to only add a pinch at a time and taste it after you do because you don’t actually want to taste the baking soda.

Can you make vegan kale pesto?

If you want to make this vegan, you can swap nutritional yeast for the parmesan cheese. I personally haven’t done this, since we’re not vegan, so I don’t know how much you would swap in. If you do try it, let us know what you did.

How long until homemade pesto goes bad?

Store homemade kale and walnut pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week (if it lasts that long; we always finish it before then).

If you need it to last longer, you can freeze it for up to six months. Just be sure to defrost it in the fridge overnight before using it,

Homemade Kale Pesto ravioli rolled out.

Recipes Using Kale Pesto:

You can use this Kale And Walnut Pesto in any recipe that calls for traditional pesto. We specifically use it in the following recipes:

You could also use it in the following recipe:

We can also use in it pretty much any dish that calls for a marinara sauce, so on top of spaghetti, on chicken parmesan, in pizza, etc. You can definitely be creative with it and you’ll be surprised with the outcome.

Air Fryer Kale Chips on a plate.

What To Make With Leftover Kale:

This recipe uses about half to 3/4 of a bunch of kale, depending on how plentiful the bunch is. You could just double the recipe, or you could save the leftover kale and use it in a few of our favorite recipes:

Neither of those recipes rely on an exact amount of kale, so you can make them regardless of how much leftover kale you have.

Asparagus Pesto surrounded by asparagus pieces.

Additional Alternative Pesto Recipe:

Maybe you’re allergic to basil. Or maybe you just don’t like it. Either way, you made it to this Kale And Walnut Pesto recipe because you’re looking for an alternative pesto recipe.

Well, wouldn’t you know we have another: Asparagus Pesto. That recipe is so good … if you like asparagus. It is really asparagus forward. We use that in a pasta dish with sausage, gorgonzola, nuts, and asparagus pieces.

Fettuccine alfredo on a plate.

More Homemade Pasta Sauce Recipes:

If you want to make more pasta sauce, not just pesto, try our Homemade Alfredo Sauce or our puttanesca sauce recipes.

Yield: 2 Cups (approx.)

Kale And Walnut Pesto

Kale And Walnut Pesto is a delicious and frugal alternative to traditional pesto. You can use it on chicken, with pasta, on bread, and more.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 2 cups kale, packed
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Wash the kale and remove the leaves from the stem. Chop it into slightly smaller pieces.
  2. Add the kale, garlic, walnuts, and lemon juice in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour in the olive oil and stir.
  4. Pour in the parmesan cheese, pepper, and salt, then stir until combined.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 126Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 4mgSodium 169mgCarbohydrates 2gFiber 1gSugar 0gProtein 2g

Have you made this Kale And Walnut Pesto recipe? What did you think of it?

amy liu dong

Tuesday 16th of August 2022

My niece is a big fan of pesto, and I am sure she will love this so much!


Tuesday 12th of April 2022

Ok a blogger who makes sure to let everyone know it’s Happy #NationalGrilledCheeseDay and also posts ‘Kale And Walnut Pesto Recipe’ is a must follow. Thxs for sharing.

Sarah @

Monday 25th of August 2014

Putting the pesto on pasta sounds so yummy! I'll have to try that! Thanks for linking up at Frugal Friday. :)

Miz Helen

Sunday 24th of August 2014

What a great Pesto recipe, we would love the combination of the kale and walnuts. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope you have a fabulous week! Come Back Soon, Miz Helen


Friday 22nd of August 2014

Thanks for coming and linking up at #The Weekend Social. Please be sure to come back next week starting Thursdays at 9PM EST The Midnight Baker ! I hope to see you there! Judy@

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