Walnut Parsley Pesto


A traditional winter pesto made from parsley and walnuts instead of basil and pine nuts.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I usually think of pesto as a summer food, given the way the basil takes over in the garden. Pesto making is just something you do with all that bounty.

But you can easily make fresh pesto in the fall or winter using parsley and walnuts instead of basil or pine nuts. It’s just as green, garlicky, cheesy, and nutty. And great on pasta, with beef, or as a sandwich spread.

I’ll even put it in cheese tacos. Or just keep dipping my fingers in until it’s all gone. Oops!

Walnut Parsley Pesto

Walnut Parsley Pesto Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 1 1/4 cups


  • 1 cup shelled walnuts, about 3 1/2 ounces
  • 2 cups chopped parsley, about 1 bunch
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


1 Put the walnuts, parsley, cheese, garlic, and salt in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then pulse again.

2 Drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running just long enough to incorporate the oil, about 20-30 seconds.

Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to store. Will last several days chilled.

Use with pasta or as a spread on bread or toast.

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Sage Walnut Pesto, from Not Without Salt

Kale Walnut Pesto Pasta, from Shutterbean

Gnocchi with Arugula Walnut Pesto, from Eat Live Run

Wild Black Walnut Parsley Pesto, from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Walnut Parsley Pesto

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

29 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Catherine

    I veganized it with Nutritional Yeast instead of Parm. It required a touch more olive oil to get that pesto texture. Fresh change of pace from basil.


  • See Jane Cook

    Amazing! Honestly just as good as bail pesto which I didn’t think would be possible. I’m not even the biggest fan of parsley, but it keeps coming in my CSA box.


  • Peter Pentz

    Pignoli nuts from Italy!… if you’re not on a budget. A wonderful sub for pine nuts is to use Sunflower seeds. In most bulk supermarket aisles. Nutty, tasty and even cheaper than Walnuts etc.. If refrigerating or freezing – hold off the Parmesan for serving time – it can go rancid. Besides, the freshly grated Parmesan/Pecorino/Romano taste is liberated – rather than buried in the pesto all that time. Mangia!

  • Judit

    Just made and had this with some pasta. Used slightly less cheese and oil but added a few teaspoons of water to make the sauce lighter. OMG. This was actually way better than any basil pesto I’ve had. Thank you very much for the recipe! Perfect dinner.

  • Karen Goodman

    I love pesto but only have fresh basil during my garden summer season, so finding a parsley based recipe is perfect. I’m also a fan of walnuts and since they are so much cheaper than pine nuts, that’s a big bonus. This turned out wonderfully, though I did use more olive oil than the recipe called for to make it easier to toss with pasta. The only thing I would change is to cut down on the garlic. I love garlic but 3 cloves overpowered this recipe. Next time I would do 1 large clove or 2 small for this quantity of sauce.

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