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This Kale Pesto recipe is a truly delicious way to sneak more dark leafy greens into your life. It takes just minutes to prepare, and is perfect over your favorite pasta, or as a dip for veggies.

bowl of noodles tossed with kale pesto

Benefits of Kale

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there! A single cup of raw kale has all the vitamin K and C your body needs for the whole day. (According to the USDA food database.)

Here’s what else you’ll love about it:

Even if you’re not the biggest fan of kale, I hope you’ll give this recipe a try! You can also try making a kale smoothie or the best kale salad, if you have more of these dark leafy greens to use up.

kale pesto ingredients on cutting board

Why You’ll Love this Pesto Recipe

This kale pesto is:

  • Fast (ready in 5 minutes!)
  • Dairy-free
  • Made in one bowl
  • Low in oil, compared to traditional recipes
  • Super-flavorful
  • and easy!

All you need is 6 ingredients to get started, and this recipe is very flexible. If you don’t have kale on hand, try using fresh spinach or arugula, instead.

How Do You Make Kale Pesto Less Bitter?

Kale is naturally a bitter-tasting vegetable, but you can make it less bitter by pairing it with bright flavors, like lemon juice. Lemon juice is one of my favorite additions to pesto, because it helps add a tangy, acid flavor that can almost mimic cheese, especially when you add a hefty pinch of salt, too.

In fact, you don’t even need to add cheese to this recipe, if you are trying to cut-back on dairy. I tested this recipe with and without adding in Parmesan, and it’s honestly delicious, either way.

kale pesto pulverized in food processor

How Long Does Kale Pesto Last?

Since kale pesto is made with fresh kale leaves, it will only last in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. As soon as you pulverize the kale, the leaves will begin to oxidize faster, and that can lead to a more pronounced, “stinky” odor as time passes.

If you want to make this kale pesto in advance, I’d recommend preparing it 24 hours in advance for the very best flavor and color.

What Can You Put Pesto On?

Pesto is delicious on:

If you are anxious to experiment with other pesto variations, be sure to try my Arugula Pesto, Oil-Free Pesto, Avocado Pesto, and Broccoli Pesto recipes.

kale pesto tossed with noodles in pan

bowl of noodles tossed with kale pesto

Kale Pesto (in 5 minutes!)

5 from 6 votes
This Kale Pesto recipe is made with just 6 ingredients and one bowl. It takes just minutes to prepare, and tastes amazing on pasta, pizza, and more.
prep5 mins cook0 mins total5 mins


Kale Pesto:

  • 1 bunch kale (Lacinato or curly) , stems removed (85 grams without stems)
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts (84 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (31 grams)
  • 3 cloves garlic (6 grams)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (4 grams)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (58 grams)
  • water, as needed to blend

Pasta Suggestions:

  • 12 ounces linguine (use brown rice or lentil past for gluten-free)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes , sliced in half
  • 1/2 red onion , chopped


How to Make Kale Pesto:

  • In a large food processor fitted with an "S" blade, combine the kale leaves, walnuts, lemon juice, garlic, salt, olive oil, and 1/4 cup of water. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the blender, as needed.
    kale pesto ingredients in food processor
  • Taste the pesto, and adjust the flavor and texture to your liking. For a smoother pesto, add up to 1/4 cup more water. For more flavor, you can add 1/4 teaspoon more salt, to help compensate for the lack of Parmesan cheese. (Or if you want to add Parmesan cheese to this, use only 1/2 teaspoon of salt to start with, and add more to taste, after adding the cheese. See notes.)
    kale pesto pulverized in food processor
  • Once the flavor and texture are to your liking, you can use this pesto on pasta, pizza, and more. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.
    kale pesto in storage jar

Pasta Assembly:

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and prepare the noodles according to the package directions. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain it and set aside. (You can prepare the pesto sauce while the pasta is cooking.)
    cooked pasta in pan with tomatoes
  • Using the same pot you used for the pasta, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and tomatoes until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the cooked noodles and prepared pesto sauce, and toss until heated through. Serve warm.
    pasta and pesto tossed together in pan



This recipe makes roughly 1 1/2 cups of pesto.
The nutrition information is for 1/4 cup of pesto sauce, but keep in mind that this is just an estimate, and not a guarantee.
If you'd like to add Parmesan cheese to this recipe, start with only 1/2 teaspoon of salt and add in 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan. Add water, as needed, to thin the sauce to your liking, and season with additional salt, only if needed.


Calories: 189kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 300mg | Potassium: 177mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2165IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: vegan
Keyword: kale pesto

If you try this Kale Pesto recipe, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like it. And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too! We can all benefit from your experience.

Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite way to eat kale?

Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

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  1. I can’t wait to try this. I have a cauliflower/kale soup this is my very favorite dish, and it made a confirmed kale lover out of me.

  2. How much kale is actually being used? Don’t get the ‘grams’, or ‘bunch’ measurements…how about how many cups torn kale, or how many ounces?