Pumpkin Seed Pesto
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Pumpkin Seed Pesto



One of the unfortunate things for kids with nut allergies is that they miss out on so many great recipes they would probably love, were it not for their bodies' adverse reaction to nuts. We here at weelicious are constantly experimenting with different kinds of seeds as nut substitutes in some of our favorite nut-based recipes, so allergic kids don't have to miss out.

I love pestos. They're great as spreads for sandwiches, on fish or chicken, mixed with your favorite pasta or simply roasted. However, most pestos contain nuts, which obviously rule them out for kids with allergies or as something you can put in your little one's lunch box if they attend a nut-free school. After a lot of trial and error, I found pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) to be a great nut alternative in this recipe. Pumpkin seeds seem to be everywhere this time of year -- it being Halloween and all (or HalloWEEn as we like to call it here!). Pumpkin seeds have great flavor and, like the nuts they are replacing, are a great source of protein, minerals and provide essential polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Whether your kids have nut allergies or just attend a nut free school, there's no reason they have to deprived of great taste. This Pumpkin Seed Pesto is perfect for the holidays, simple to make and simply delicious!

Pumpkin Seed Pesto  (Makes about 1/2 cup)

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One of the unfortunate things for kids with nut allergies is that they miss out on so many great recipes they would probably love, were it not for their bodies' adverse reaction to nuts. We here at weelicious are constantly experimenting with different...


  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas), hulled
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup cilantro, parsley or basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


  1. 1. If using raw (green) pumpkin seeds, place them on a baking sheet and toast for 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until golden. If using toasted/roasted pumpkin seeds you can skip this step.
  2. 2. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  3. 3. Serve on pasta, fish, chicken or a spread on sandwiches.
  4. * For a dairy free version use 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and 1/2 cup olive oil (instead of 1/3 cup).
  5. To freeze, place in ice cube trays or baby food cubes and freeze for up to 3 months.
Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Nutrition Information

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  3. radhika

    December 19, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    When adding this to pasta, do i neeed to cook this sauce? can i make it hot with the pasta?
    Does the olive oil need to be Hot or something before it is added to the mixture?

    • catherine

      December 21, 2010 at 5:25 pm

      Just toss it with the hot pasta and it will warm through :)

  4. Becky

    October 25, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Thank you so much for another nut substitution recipe. They are all very much appreciated (as we have a child with a tree nut allergy) and all super yummy! Keep them coming!

  5. Jessica

    October 21, 2010 at 1:32 am

    My husband and son loved this pesto and we’ll make it again! I used the exact amounts in the recipe and we had a lot of pesto leftover since it goes so far.

    A side note…my husband LOVES peanuts, but I am allergic, so we are a peanut-free house. I toasted some extra raw pepitas, added salt and left them out on the table. He loved them and told me to make them for the holidays since they were a great stand-in for peanuts! My 2 year old loved them, too. I love that they were homemade,too. Thanks for the tip! :)

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  7. Larisa

    October 15, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    OMG.. I’ve been sending my son off to his nut-free school with turkey pesto meatballs (his favorites!) – never dawned on me to think of the pine nuts. So sorry!!! Substituting this one from now on.

  8. AM

    October 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Just finished this.. Delicious.. Thanks for sharing.. BTW: love your site

  9. Carolyn

    October 13, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Great idea. Always lookig for penaut and nut free dishea Target sells a nut free pesto when you are in a pinch.

  10. Mignon

    October 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Did you know that there is a national shortage of pine nuts right now and they cost even MORE than they did before? I believe it was $24 # at WFM. NOW I can turn all my beautiful basil into pesto! Wait until my hubby hears about this wonderful news. (ps we don’t like walnut pesto)
    THANK YOU! :-)

  11. Tina P

    October 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    This is so good!!! I love pesto in general but the pumpkin seed addition adds a great taste! Will be so good on a piece of chicken with some mozzarella on top.

    Thanks for the tip on storing the seeds Jessica. I just bought that big bag at TJ’s this morning. I didn’t know I had to refrigerate the seeds. :)

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  13. Jessica

    October 12, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Thank you for posting this recipe!
    Just a tip for those new to buying pumpkin seeds/pepitos. I bought a large bag at Trader Joe’s. We’ve kept them in the fridge in a ziploc baggie and over time (within 1 month) the leftovers took on a plastic taste. I will store them in glass next time.
    Otherwise, my 2 year old loves to snack on them raw. :)

  14. Amy

    October 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Thank you so much for including the dairy-free version, too! I’ve also used pumpkin seeds as a substitute in your sun-dried tomato pesto recipe – yum!!

  15. christy

    October 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you! We are nut-free and make your sundried tomato pesto all of the time. Can’t wait to try this!!!!

  16. cara

    October 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    How long can this last for in ‘fridge once made?

    • catherine

      October 12, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      This can be good for up to a week or 2, but I freeze half and use them for later :)

  17. Lana

    October 12, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I make our dairy/nut-free pesto by using Sunbutter and Daiya cheese. It tastes pretty close to the regular version.

  18. Becky

    October 12, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I love pepita pesto. Delicious with cilantro!

    • Kathryn

      October 12, 2010 at 2:38 pm

      Oh my goodness, yum. I am drooling imagining that with cream cheese on a sandwich.

  19. Maggie

    October 12, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Thank you so much for all the nut-free/nut-substitute suggestions! We have a nut allergy in our house and you seem to always hit the nail on the head for recipes that I would love to have nut-free – like pesto!

  20. Julie

    October 12, 2010 at 11:02 am

    What is nutritional yeast (dairy free version)? Where do I buy it? What does it taste like? Thanks.

    • Jennifer @ Kiddie Blanket

      October 12, 2010 at 3:36 pm

      You can also find nutritional yeast in some bulk bins at the grocery store.

      It may not be a bad idea to try a little before buying a big container.

      We have a milk allergy and we love nutritional yeast!

    • catherine

      October 12, 2010 at 2:09 pm

      you can get nutritional yeast at any health foods store like Whole Foods, or Trader Jo’s. It tastes like cheese!

      • Jillian

        October 12, 2010 at 2:40 pm

        Wait a minute… it tastes like CHEESE??? How have I missed this? My little guy (and myself b/c of bf’ing) have been dairy free for a little over a year.

        **Off to find mass quantities of nutritional yeast!**

        THANK YOU!! :)

        • Mignon

          October 13, 2010 at 3:11 pm

          I hope it is okay to talk about another book on here. If you are looking for cheese alternatives and the uses of nutritional yeast seek out The Uncheese book! I’m a recent vegan convert and my boys are extreeme dairy intollerant. This book is wonderful! There are also wonderful cheese subsitute products, including powders, that are new on the market that are healthy and taste great!

        • Jessica

          October 27, 2010 at 8:23 pm

          Thanks, Mignon! I just tried this recipe with cheese and then another batch with yeast. The yeast tasted better to me! I’m going to see if my husband and son notice the difference tonight. I don’t think they will! :)

  21. laurel

    October 12, 2010 at 11:02 am

    OH wow. This sounds super yummy.

  22. Miranda Merten

    October 12, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Wow, what a great idea for a substitute! Never would have thought of that and I bet it taste just as good as pine nuts would.