Walnut Parsley Pesto

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

  • 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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  • 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.

  • Heather

    This was so easy and the parsley was not overwhelming. I actually found that half the oil worked great since the walnuts are quite oily too. Thank you for a great recipe. We had a great crop of italian parsley this year and now I have a great way to use it!

  • Rain

    Lovely. Thank you. Best parsley pesto recipe out their, in my humble opinion!


  • Susan Russell

    I use ice cube trays to freeze pesto– whatever kind– then put the cubes into a zip bag and store in the freezer. Easy to grab however many are needed without defrosting a large amount. We sometime just spread 1/2″ thick parchment on a cookie sheet, freeze,then cut into 2″ squares. Same ease of use.

    Love the recipe– so versatile. Lokking at my herb garden and plotting other flavor pestos…

  • Catherine

    Just made this tonight for a dinner party and it is fantastic. I quadrupled the recipe and used a mix of 3 parts walnuts and 1 part blanched almond flour. We will be eating this regularly all winter.

  • blondie

    hi first time i made this pesto recipe and it was the best ever! brought it out on my birthday nite everyone put it on everything from romain lettuce, celery, crackers ,chicken, pasta, quinoa, and their own fingers! very awesome! thankyou!

  • tina

    yumm i make pesto and homemade sofrito and in our dollar store we have little containers, 8 or 10 for 1 buck so i take pesto or sofrito and freeze in these little miracle containers perfect size for my need, just pop it in soups, rice, pasta etc frozen if u wish works perfectly
    i find freezing in bigger containers a bit inconvenient if i dont use it up it’s wasted, though i must admit that rarely happens, happy pesto, enjoy!!!!

  • J. Ray

    Made this for supper tonight–it was a revelation. Make some immediately and you will be inspired for uses for it! Probably the best pesto I’ve ever had!

  • Mimi

    Delicious, thank you!

  • Rita

    We made it for New Years Eve;Thanks, great Recipe,easy and tastes delicious!!!!

  • Espahan

    I am dating myself, but the first time I made pesto was in the middle 60s. I made it with olive oil, a little melted butter, garlic, salt and pepper and big handfuls of chopped parsley. I discovered you could add nuts later. I used what I had, chopped filberts.

  • Christian Gehman

    Bravo! — I would note that since pine nuts are almost always on the slightly rancid side *especially when imported from China* — using walnuts to make any kind of pesto, even the traditional Pesto Genovese with garlic and basil, can be a very viable, and economical option. Put simply, pounding walnuts in a large mortar with basil and Parmesan and olive oil just works better, and for me, tastes better, than pine nuts.

    Happy Holidays to you, Elise! please visit if you come near Charlottesville.

    • Kerry kelly

      There is a condition called “pine nut mouth” I think…… my daughters whole family ate pine nuts from china and ended up with a bitter mouth for a weekish when eating any thing at all. Yuck

      • Kim

        Pine nut mouth is awful! I made pesto with pine nuts from China last year and a day or so later experienced a terrible chemical taste whenever I ate anything. It lasted about a week. I just made this version and the walnuts made a delicious tasting pesto.

  • MrsTeaPie

    Almonds would work great and become smooth if you soak them in water overnight. I buy them raw from the bulk bin at my market. I use them in smoothies and they come out very smooth. They were also great for my M-I-L who does not like “hard” nuts.
    You could also blanch them for 3 minutes then soak in cold water for 3 minutes to pop off the skins before making the pesto.

  • Sam

    Do you think toasting the walnuts first would have any negative effects? Or would it just be unnecessary? I just feel like walnuts can be bitter sometimes (I’m not a wholehearted walnut lover, but I think I would love this pesto) and toasting helps with the bitterness.

    • Elise

      You could try it and see. Toasting the walnuts does change the taste. I didn’t find that the pesto suffered from using raw walnuts.

  • Mary

    any thoughts on flat vs curly parsley? i have both in the fridge right now. use both? not sure! they do taste different!

    • MArzia

      Being Italian :-) (I grew up in the States but I live in Italy right now) I would say, use the flat leaf. Here the curly leaf is used only for decoration… the flat leaf is the parsley of choice for pestos.

  • meg

    I love walnuts in pesto. In fact, owing to the exorbitant price of pine nuts, I use walnuts almost exclusively for pesto. The parsley is a great idea–a good winter pesto. Arugula is also a fabulous green to use in pesto.

    • Katherine @ our peas + carrots

      I was going to make almost the exact same comment! I make arugula pesto (with walnuts) twice as much as basil pesto, mostly due to the availability and price of ingredients. I can get a big plastic tub of baby arugula for $1.75 here in NJ, but basil is outrageous! Besides, the bite from arugula is good and walnuts have a great earthiness. BUT, I think I will try parsley next time.. thanks, Elise!

  • jjmcgaffey

    Almonds are hard to use – because they’re harder nuts. I’d whizz them first to small chunks before mixing in other stuff (when I used them, I got pesto with almond pieces instead of nutty pesto).
    I use frozen spinach as the basis for my pesto, summer or winter. I like the flavor. Let it thaw slightly then add some fresh greens and the rest of the ingredients (plus some nutmeg to take the edge off the dark green) and whizz.
    Pesto freezes nicely, too. Put it in canning jars (I use half-pints), cap and freeze; it will keep for a couple months, at least (that’s about how long 5-6 half-pints last, in my house). When you want to use it, take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge at least 8 hours (and 24 is better) before you want to use it (though you can give it 15 seconds or so in the microwave to soften the edges and scrape some off. But the rest of the jar won’t keep as well if you do that – still works, but eat it quickly if you can).
    I use it as a bread spread (yummy with brie, grilled cheese…just about anything), on pasta, on rice (just like pasta), instead of mayo in tuna salad…yum.

  • elston

    I noticed that my pot of parsley out on the lanai….is really overgrown and with recent rains is sort of hanging down….still very green and fresh…just too heavy for its stems to hold up the wet leaves.

    I have walnuts and am sick of baking cookies….so this looks to be a perfect solution. I have family coming for Xmas week….I can picture the dark green parsely pesto….on toast rounds with a sliced sweet one hundred tomato in the center…..very Christmas-y.

    I also have extra almonds…..I wonder how they would work in a pesto.

    Thank you for a great idea….Merry Christmas!