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Kale Pesto

This bright and fresh kale pesto comes together in 10 minutes. It’s such a versatile sauce – use it on pasta, pizza, salads, roasted veggies or as a dip!

Kale Pesto #kale #pesto #vegan #dip

We all love a basil pesto but if you have an abundance of kale or some leftover in the fridge, whip up this flavour packed kale pesto!

A few good quality ingredients is all you need for pesto, and I always keep them in the pantry because pesto cravings are real and happen a lot in our house!

Traditionally pesto isn’t vegan but it is super easy to make vegan thanks to nutritional yeast. You can also sub for vegan parmesan if you have that on hand.

Kale Pesto Ingredients

Ingredients for kale pesto:

[full ingredient list and recipe below, please scroll to the bottom]

  • Kale – you can use any variety of kale – curly kale, tuscan kale, cavolo nero
  • Pine nuts – traditional pesto ingredient, they get toasted and add a super creamy nutty flavour
  • Garlic – key to adding flavour to pesto
  • Lemon – for acidity
  • Nutritional yeast – for cheesiness, you can also use for vegan parmesan
  • Olive oil – use a good quality olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Optional add in – fresh basil – adds an extra layer of flavour, it is great both ways!

Kale Pesto Pasta

How to make kale pesto:

Start by blanching the kale. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the chopped kale. Leave for 2 minutes, it should have reduced in size and be soft. Immediately place in cold water and then squeeze out any excess water.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan on low to medium heat. Toss frequently so they don’t burn, it should only take a minute or two.

Place the cooked kale, toasted pine nuts, garlic, lemon, nutritional yeast, basil (optional) salt and pepper in a food processor.

Kale Pesto in Food Processor

Start blending and pour the oil in, blend for about 30 seconds until combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

How do you take the bitterness out of kale pesto:

Kale can have a bitter flavour when not cooked. To eliminate this we are blanching the kale. Simply place in some boiling water for a couple of minutes until softened.

Immediately plunge in cold water (so we don’t lose the colour) and then squeeze out any excess water. This will ensure your kale pesto doesn’t have a bitter flavour.

Massaged Kale

If you don’t want to do this and are used to having kale raw I would recommend massaging the kale with a bit of olive oil for a few minutes until it has softened.

This is a great option for salads and will work for this pesto but it can sometimes leave you with a slightly bitter taste. If you do find it to be too bitter, you can balance it out with 1/2 to 1 tsp of maple syrup/agave.

Kale Pesto #kale #pesto #vegan #dip

Ways to use pesto:

  • Pasta – super popular and is always delicious! Add in some sautéed or roasted veg – courgette, peas, cherry tomatoes
  • Pizza – drizzle on top or use as a sub to a tomato sauce base
  • Salad – use as a dressing or add a dollop on the side
  • Potatoes – top a baked potato or smashed potatoes, stir through some baby potatoes with a bit of butter, stir through mash. The possibilities are endless!
  • As a dip – serve with your favourite crisps/breads and crudités and dip in pesto!
Kale Pesto #kale #pesto #vegan #dip

For more pesto recipes you may enjoy these:

Pesto potato salad

Brazil nut pesto

Sun dried tomato pesto pasta salad

Roasted courgette pesto pasta

As always if you make this vegan kale pesto be sure to leave me a comment, rate this recipe and tag me on Instagram. I love seeing all your photos of my recipe recreations!

Don’t forget to follow along on FacebookPinterest and Instagram – I’d love to see you all there!


Kale Pesto #kale #pesto #vegan #dip

Kale Pesto

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Bright and fresh kale pesto makes for the perfect pasta sauce, salad dressing, veggie topper or dip!


  • 100g / 2 cups tightly packed chopped kale
  • 45g / 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast/vegan parmesan
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 80 ml/ 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper


  • 30g / 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil


  1. Destem the kale and roughly chop. Bring a pot of water to the boil and then add kale and cook for 2 minutes. Immediately place in cold water and then drain and squeeze out any excess water.
  2. Place pine nuts in a dry pan on low to medium heat. Toast for about a minute, tossing frequently until lightly golden. Watch they don't burn.
  3. Add the pine nuts and garlic into the food processor and pulse a few times until broken down.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients to a food processor including the basil if using. Blitz until combined. If you need you can add a little more olive oil to loosen.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper and serve!

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Did you make this recipe?

Let me know in the comments or tag me on Instagram @cupfulofkale


Friday 30th of June 2023

What can I use instead of 1/3 cup of oil? I cannot use any oils in my dishes.

Thanks so much.


Tuesday 4th of July 2023

Hi Faith, I haven't tried this without oil so the flavour will be different but you could try subbing with about 1/4 cup of water/aquafaba (chickpea water) or some unsweetened plant milk. Tamsin xo

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