Kale Pesto

Missing summer pesto? Make this Kale Pesto with lemon, almonds, garlic, Parmesan, and fresh leafy kale. Perfect winter pesto and great with pasta!

Kale Lemon Pesto
Elise Bauer

Move over basil, kale would like some room at the pesto table!

I recently needed some pesto for a recipe and thought I would pick some up ready made at the market. Oops! I forgot, basil is a warm weather plant, and it and its pesto are hard to find around here in winter.

No problemo. It's easy enough to make pesto from scratch with kale. Like its basil pesto cousin, kale pesto is terrific with pasta, potatoes, sandwiches, and with any and everything which calls for pesto.

Kale can have its own strong taste, so to balance it we're adding some lemon zest and lemon juice to the pesto, along with toasted almonds, garlic, Parmesan, and extra virgin olive oil.

Unlike basil pesto, kale pesto doesn't turn dark right away either. It stays vibrant green for days in the fridge.


Kale Pesto

Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Yield 1 1/4 cups

To prep the kale, rinse and pat dry, strip out or cut out the tough inner stem and discard, chop the leaves enough so you can easily measure.

To toast almonds, heat them in a single layer in a small sauté pan on medium high to high heat, stirring occasionally. When the almonds begin to brown remove to a bowl to cool. The whole process only takes a couple of minutes, so keep an eye on them! They can go from lightly toasted to burned quickly.


  • 3 cups (packed, 85 g) chopped fresh kale
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) toasted, blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup (40 g) grated or shredded Parmesan
  • Zest of one lemon (about a teaspoon)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (less or more to taste), minced
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Pulse kale and almonds:

    Place the chopped fresh kale and toasted almonds in a food processor and pulse several seconds.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  2. Add Parmesan, lemon zest, garlic:

    and pulse again several times. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor and pulse again.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  3. Drizzle in olive oil:

    With the food processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  4. Stir in lemon juice, salt, pepper:

    Remove to a storage container, stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper, adjusting amounts to taste.

    Use mixed in with pasta or rice or as a topping for chicken, beef, or seafood.