The Easiest Kale Recipe
101 1045

Kale Pesto: Your New Best Friend



If I've said it once, I've said it a million times (what does that saying really mean by the way?), if there's a food item I suggest every mom always keep in her fridge for a quick dinner fix, it's pesto. Pesto is your best friend during those times when it's late in the day and you're officially too brain dead to make dinner -- let alone think about what it should be. I should know, because I feel that way weekly.

I've rarely met a kid who doesn't enjoy pesto. Maybe it's the unmistakable taste of Parmesan cheese which makes it so addictive for them. Mixed into rice or pasta, as part of an Egg Pesto Melt, whipped up in an omelette (as Chloe has been asking for all this week), or using a good thick spread of it on chicken or fish before baking, pesto is a miracle food which makes most any food taste better.

Start your 2013 off right and ensure your mealtimes will be super easy from now on. Just make a big batch of this Kale Pesto recipe, put some in the fridge, and then freeze the rest in small individual containers so you will always have some on hand when you need it. And trust me, once your kids taste this recipe, you're going to!

Kale Pesto  (makes 1 cup - 8 servings)

  • Prep Time: 5 mins,
  • Rating:
    Rate this recipe
If I've said it once, I've said it a million times (what does that saying really mean by the way?), if there's a food item I suggest every mom always keep in her fridge for a quick dinner fix, it's pesto. Pesto is your best friend during those times...


  • 2 cups packed kale leaves
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts*
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  1. 1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  2. 2. Serve over rice, pasta or as a sandwich spread.
  3. Note: If you don\\'t have toasted walnuts, you can easily make them. Just spread roughly chopped walnuts on a baking sheet and pop in a 400°F oven for five minutes.

Accompaniments: cooked pasta, cooked rice, chicken, fish or as a sandwich spread

Kale Pesto

Nutrition Information

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  2. tourism

    January 6, 2015 at 12:25 am

    hi..I just want to say that this recipe is really fantastic and simple one . I love this recipe..,we will make it once more,thanks for sharing this recipe with us

  3. tourism

    January 6, 2015 at 12:25 am

    hi..I just want to say that this recipe is really fantastic and simple one . I love this recipe..,we will make it once more,thanks for sharing this recipe with us

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  5. Louise

    June 26, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    YUM YUM YUM! Made this with kale from the garden, toasted cashew nuts, halved the garlic and added bit more olive oil! This makes a very good dip as well as a fast, healthy, no fuss dinner! Thanks for sharing this recipe- awesome!

  6. Tammyblackmer

    May 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Have really enjoyed the recipes on this site. Can’t wait to try this one!

  7. Karin

    April 9, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Oh. My. Goodness!!! This was unbelievable. I used frozen kale so I had to bump up the amount of olive oil to get it to process but that’s ok with me. I used pecans instead of walnuts because that’s all I had in the house and it’s so delicious, I seriously want to just eat it with a spoon straight out of the blender.

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  10. Jaclyn

    November 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Can I triple this recipe and freeze it in smaller portions?

    • Catherine McCord

      November 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Yes! Freeze before adding the oil!

      • Kara

        December 30, 2013 at 4:46 pm

        What happens if you freeze this after you add the oil

        • Amanda

          May 2, 2014 at 2:52 pm

          I made this (with the oil) and froze it in an ice cube tray and transferred to a freezer bag…it froze fine and so easy to take 1 or 2 out and defrost. I use on home made pizza dough instead of tomato sauce and my 17 month old loves it!! Thanks for all your awesome recipes!

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  13. dawnpolk

    September 4, 2013 at 4:43 pm


  14. cheryl

    August 28, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    I made this pesto with pumpkin seeds (because I had them), goat’s milk Romano (because I like the tang and try to stay away from cow’s milk) and added a handful each of lemon basil and flat leaf parsley (to bump up the flavor and nutrition even more). Then as a gf alternative, I served it on Zucchini “spaghetti” (shredded lengthwise on a box grater to look like spaghetti, then blanched a couple minutes in salted boiling water). I have to tell you… this was AWESOME !!! I am planning on using this recipe the next time i make green lasagna, risotto or baked fish.
    I also just wanted to thank you for all the great food ideas like this pesto. I am in my 50s, My children are grown and no grandkids as yet but I do like to eat healthy and who says you have to have little ones to enjoy these recipes?

  15. Michelle

    July 29, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Tried this tonight.. None of my 4 kids liked it at all.. Neither did my husband or I.. First time trying Kale anything.. Guess we’re not kale fans :(

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  18. Diana

    June 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    love all the great ideas!

  19. Diana

    June 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Great ideas for the whole family!

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  21. Mary

    May 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Loved this recipe- thank you! I also used pine nuts instead of walnuts, and used 1/2 kale and 1/2 basil. I served it with whole wheat pasta and sliced chicken breast. The kids really loved it, and my older son (6) actually said that it’s his favorite. As if he had tasted it millions of times before – hahaha! thanks again Catherine. This was a great way to get them eating kale.

  22. Isabelle

    April 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    I liked it but everyone thought the raw garlic was too strong. I had to add more kale, nuts and oil to drown out the garlicky taste Next time I will roast the garlic beforehand.

  23. Ines

    April 8, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    LOVE this recipe, I subbed with pine nuts as I don’t have any walnuts handy. Worked well.

    Wondering how long it keeps well in the fridge?

  24. Meg

    March 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I made a dairy and nut free half recipe of this by substituting 5 tablespoons shelled hemp seeds for the walnuts, and 4 tablespoons Italian style bread crumbs for the cheese. It turned out great and now my daughter can enjoy some pesto!

  25. samanthacraig

    March 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    This is so good, I had to sub with roasted almonds because I didn’t have any walnuts. I gave it to my daughter as a topping to her crackers & also on her pasta. So good & very versatile! Thanks for all your great recipes!

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  27. Karey

    February 26, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    My daughter loved it straight out of the food processor!

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  29. Audrey

    February 10, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Can you make this without walnuts? Or will it taste totally different?

    • catherine

      February 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      It will definitely taste different, but you can use just about any nut you prefer!

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  31. Tina

    February 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    My 4 year old says “Yum” whe he eats it with noodles. We love this recipe. Made a double batch and froze in 3oz cintainers. Will never be without it in my freezer!!

    • ksmeltzfun

      November 9, 2013 at 7:42 am

      Great idea, how long can you freeze it for?

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  34. Jess

    January 30, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    A food processor is at the top of my “To-buy” list. Would this work in a blender? I have a stand mixer too, but no attachment that would puree anything.

    • catherine

      January 30, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Yes, a blender will work. Just watch it and scrape the ingredients down so that everything gets nice and smooth!

  35. d

    January 23, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    wanted to use nutritional yeast to make the recipe vegan – how much would you suggest as a substitute for the cheese?

    • catherine

      January 24, 2013 at 11:18 am

      I would start with half the amount. Taste it and see if you’d like more of that flavor in the pesto!

  36. Terri

    January 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    This may very well be the perfect recipe to get my girls to eat some leafy greens! I’m definitely trying it soon.

  37. alena

    January 17, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I’m trying to add more greens by making pesto and smoothie for the whole family. And looking at your cooking gear, you used a Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor which I don’t have. I do have a magic bullet, would that be a good food processor for all your pesto and smoothie recipe? I just got your cookbook couple days ago and I remember seeing a post that you have two cookbooks, so when will the second book coming out? Thanks so much!

    • catherine

      January 18, 2013 at 11:36 am

      The Magic Bullet should be just fine for all of those recipes! My second book will be coming out this summer!

  38. Alexandria

    January 17, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Made the Kale Pesto on Sunday night, had with bowtie pasta and a few grape tomatoes. My husband loved it. Had leftovers for lunch. Loved it! Made a pesto omelet (with spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes), LOVE, LOVE, LOVED IT!

  39. Sheila

    January 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I tried this recipe and it was deliecious—I shared it on my blog (giving you credit) and encouraged folks to follow you!!! Thanks for a great recipe!

  40. Elizabeth

    January 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Can you use pine nuts instead of walnuts or would it change the flavor too much?

    • catherine

      January 14, 2013 at 11:20 am

      You can definitely use pine nuts! It will change the flavor, but it will still be yummy!

  41. Super Human Foods

    January 11, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I saw a Kale Pesto recipe that substituted sunflower seeds for nuts. As you may or may not know, seeds are much easier to digest than nuts!

  42. Samantha

    January 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I have made basil pesto – a good idea to freeze is to do it in ice cube trays, then when frozen, pop out and into a freezer bag!

  43. Cait

    January 8, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Had some kale in the fridge so I made it last night–loved it! My 6-yr-old, who also loved it, kindly reminded me that I didn’t need to eat so quickly….. it was that delicious!

  44. Janelle Weems

    January 8, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Wow ! So excited to try this ! My daughter loves the spinach pesto ( hubby too ) I make it every Sunday for the week! Can’t wait to add this to the fridge !

  45. cara

    January 8, 2013 at 8:40 am

    just wondering if this can be refridgerated if a double batch is made?

    • catherine

      January 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Yes! This will keep in the fridge for about 5-7 days!

  46. Kelly S.

    January 8, 2013 at 12:32 am

    I love your blog and your new cookbook! I have a 14-month-old and love that your recipes are all healthy, tasty,. and easy. Last night I made your Roasted Chicken with Caramelized Lemons, Cherry Tomatoes, and Olives and added some whole wheat past with your Broccoli pesto on the side. She loved it (as did my husband), so I will definitely be trying this recipe. One thing I am finding, though, is that it is taking me quite a bit longer to prep the ingredients than is stated in the recipes. For example, I made your Sesame Udon Noodles for dinner tonight and it took me 20 minutes (instead of 2) to prep all of the ingredients. Maybe I’m just slow at chopping veggies and measuring stuff. Do you have any tips or tricks for making the prep faster and more efficient? Thanks!

    • catherine

      January 8, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      I think that really comes with practice! Sometimes you can sort of do two things at once, like if something needs to be steamed or boiled you can start that while you’re chopping everything. :) Thank you for your kind words!

  47. Tina

    January 7, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Should i blanch the kale first??

    • catherine

      January 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Nope! Add it raw!

  48. evelyn wong

    January 7, 2013 at 6:25 pm


    This is from singapore. Been browsing your recipes alot.. can I substitute kale with any other vegetables?

    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      Spinach and collard greens are both great substitutes for kale!

  49. Nat

    January 7, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    So yummy! I actually made it with the go raw sprouted plain punpkin and sunflower sees mix! I will deff be making this again!

  50. Zoogs

    January 7, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    I am just now standing in the kitchen waiting for the pasta to cook dipping tortilla chips into this pesto and loving it! I know what I’ll be snacking on during nap time tomorrow (nearly guilt-free)!

  51. Susan

    January 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I’m allergic to milk (and thus the parmesan). Would it work to make itwithout the parmesan? I could eat everything else.

    • Danielle

      January 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      My usual basil pesto recipe is free from parmesan (due to dairy issues in the family). I’ve always used about a tablespoon of white miso paste per 2 1/2 cups of basil. No one has ever missed the cheese. I haven’t played with the ratios in this (or other) pesto recipe yet, but the nice thing about pesto is that you can keep adding little bits and mixing until you find a nice balance. (Also, I don’t usually add salt other than what is in the miso, but that’s me.)

    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      The parmesan adds tons of flavor. You can absolutely leave it out, it will just be a different flavor. If you can find nutritional yeast that tastes just like parmesan cheese! You could use that for the flavor.

  52. lilmagicmama

    January 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I hardly ever have all the necessary ingredients on hand to make one of your wonderful recipes but clearly my luck is changing for the new year, not only did I have everything I already made the pesto and had it for lunch. Thanks so much!

  53. allyson

    January 7, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Great timing! Always looking to weave more veggies into our diet and Whole Foods have organic kale on sale this week!

  54. Dorothy

    January 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    I love kale, but I always have it cooked because for me, it’s a bit bitter. Does this come out bitter, or do the other ingredients help with that? Thanks! (By the way, you are simply fantastic! Love all your recipes! Everything I have made has turned out great!)

    • Samantha

      January 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      You could also try different kinds of kale, if you can find it. Maybe the purple kale would be less bitter.

    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      The other ingredients (the lemon juice especially) help to cut the bitterness!

  55. Molly

    January 7, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    This looks great! looking forward to trying!! thanks!

  56. wendy m

    January 7, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I love pesto, but I too have a kiddo who is allergic to nuts and garlic, and canola oil, and a slew of other things. So, I’ve read the tips regarding either leaving out the nuts, or subbing with pumpkin or sunflower seed. You don’t happen to have a recommendation on subbing garlic? I know it’s a flavor chance if i don’t include it. I tried making hummus once and leave out the garlic and it completeely changed the taste. Basically, not tasty. So, in addition to a garlic-free pesto, I’m looking for a garlic-free hummus as well, but don’t know if that’s possible

  57. Shannon

    January 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    I also would like to know if its possible to make without nuts??

    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      You could substitute sunflower or pumpkin seeds!

    • CarrieH

      January 7, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      maybe toasted soy nuts would work for those that are nut free?

  58. Laura

    January 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Looks delicious. I’d also like to know about making it nut and seed free, if possible?

    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Hmm no seeds? You could just leave them out altogether! It will be a slightly different consistency and flavor, but will still be delicious!

      • Laura

        January 7, 2013 at 4:16 pm

        Great, thanks! I will give it a try. Yes, unfortunately my toddler is allergic to all nuts and most seeds so we have to stay away from it all :/

  59. Julie

    January 7, 2013 at 11:58 am

    My daughter is allergic to nuts. Are the walnuts necessary or can you recommend something else besides nuts, pinenuts, etc?

    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      If you can use seeds I would recommend using sunflower or pumpkin seeds! Otherwise just leave them out! Maybe use a bit more kale if you’re going to leave the nuts out altogether.

  60. Katherine

    January 7, 2013 at 11:55 am

    My family and I love pesto! I can’t believe I never thought about making kale pesto! I’m so going to try it this weekend after I pick up our farm share. Yum.

  61. Julie

    January 7, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Silly question….you don’t cook the kale?

    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Nope, leave it raw!

  62. geralyn murray

    January 7, 2013 at 11:34 am

    What a great reminder about pesto! I always forget it’s the one food my kids can agree on. Thanks!

  63. Jami

    January 7, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I would also like to know about making this completely nut free. Wondering if I could use soybutter instead?

    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      You could use seeds instead! Sunflower, pumpkin, soybeans, etc…

      • Jami

        January 7, 2013 at 1:25 pm

        Ok, so, for soybeans, would that be the frozen edemame or would I need to buy raw and soak them?

  64. Natalie Poulson

    January 7, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Sounds awesome Catherine! My guys love pesto, but we limit how much we eat it because of the Parm. If I make it, I usually sub in Romano made from sheep’s milk, as it is easier for us to tolerate. Good suggestions about the yeast though – I might try half and half. Does anyone have a suggestion for what we could sub for the lemon juice though?

    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Do you need to avoid all citrus or just lemons? You could sub freshly squeezed lime or orange juice instead. They would give a different flavor but still help to brighten the pesto! You could also leave it out for a completely different flavor!

  65. amber

    January 7, 2013 at 11:18 am

    We have dairy and peanut allergies in our house, but I think I’m going to try this with some daiya vegan cheese and either some pumpkin seeds or possibly some almonds (my guy can tolerate them)…I’d like to try adding the nutritional yeast, but have been having trouble finding some not processed with nuts!

  66. Irina

    January 7, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Thank you for this wonderful idea! I do not have any fresh kale right now, but I happen to have some frozen kale. Would it work if I defrost and drain it? I feel I cannot wait until I can make a trip to the store :)!

    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Hmm I think that would be too wet and limp even after draining it. I also feel like the frozen kale, since it has been steamed or blanched and then frozen and defrosted it changes the flavor. I really feel like this is a recipe that needs the fresh kale!

  67. Erica

    January 7, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Laura, you could sub in nutritional yeast for the parm to make it vegan. Tastes just like parm cheese and is packed full of vitamins and protein!

    • Laura

      January 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks, I’ll try that!

  68. Julie

    January 7, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I made the pistachio pesto with spinach last night and my 2 year old daughter loved it (as did I). I can’t wait to try this one!

  69. Laura

    January 7, 2013 at 10:33 am

    That looks delicious. What would you substitute for parmesan cheese if you wanted to make this dish vegan?

  70. Alyson

    January 7, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Hi, Catherine. I know you sometimes include pasta with kale pesto in the kids’ lunches. Do you substitute something for, or just skip, the walnuts to make it nut-free?


    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      You can use sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead of nuts! You can definitely leave them out completely if you need to!

    • Christine

      January 7, 2013 at 11:13 am

      I had the same question for a nut-free pesto, too. This kale pesto sounds soooo yummy. I have some nut-free ideas for pesto here: