Kale Pesto recipe from Weelicious.comPin

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.

Kale Pesto recipe from Weelicious.comPin

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.

Kale Pesto recipe from Weelicious.comPin

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, you’re going to need some on hand!

Kale Pesto recipe from Weelicious.comPin


Kale Pesto

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Author: Catherine McCord
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 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


  • Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  • Serve over rice, pasta or as a sandwich spread.
  • 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.


Calories: 120kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 12g | Sodium: 180mg | Fiber: 1g
Did you make this recipe?Mention @Weelicious or tag #weelicious!

About the Author

Catherine is a mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. I create simple, healthy recipes the whole family will love.


  1. The Superfood Pasta Topper | #HarvestDay | Oprah Winfrey Network | Living With Diabetes says:

    […] This recipe for Kale Pesto is a guiltless way to get that nutty, parmesean flavor that we love about pesto with the added health benefits of Kale. Get this addictive Weelicious recipe from Catherine McCord here: https://weelicious.com/2013/01/07/kale… […]

  2. 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. 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

  4. […] – kale pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, […]

  5. 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. 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.

  7. […] – kale pesto with broccoli and yellow squash, yeast rolls […]

  8. […] Tuesday – (meatless) Rising Moon ravioli with kale pesto […]

  9. […] Tuesday – (meatless) Rising Moon ravioli with kale pesto […]

  10. 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 🙁

  11. […] of the wascilly wabbit visiting us at night (sadly, our carrots did not fair so well). I saw a recipe for kale pesto and decided to try it. I usually do not like pesto because I do not like strong basil flavour and […]

  12. […] Kale Pesto: Check out this recipe from weelicious.com for an easy kale pesto. […]

  13. […] – kale pesto with broccoli and yellow squash, yeast rolls […]

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. […] Because I live alone, it is hard for me to eat a whole bunch of kale (or spinach, or chard, or carrot tops or basil, or cilantro, or parsley for that matter) before it starts to wilt. After making a salad or side dish, I use the left over kale leaves to make pesto. I divide the large portion into small baggies which I store for weeks in the freezer. This fresh topping is delicious on fish, chicken, pasta, and sandwiches! Here’s the recipe I use: http://b12.ba4.myftpupload.com/2013/01/07/kale-pesto-the-easiest-kale-recipe/ […]

  17. Food For Our Brood- Getting Your Kids To Love Pesto! - Eat Like No One Else » Eat Like No One Else says:

    […] pesto made with kale and decided to give it a try, and it was a huge hit! The recipe can be found here on Weelicious.com. This is a very inexpensive meal that packs a great nutritional […]

  18. 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!!

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

  20. 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.

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

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

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

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

  25. 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!

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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!

  29. 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!

  30. 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!

  31. 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 !

  32. 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!

  33. 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!

  34. Hi..

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

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

  36. 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)!

  37. 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.)

  38. 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.

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

  40. 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!

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

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

  43. 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!)

  44. 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

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

  46. 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.

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

  48. 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.

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

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

  51. 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!

  52. 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?

  53. 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!

  54. 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!

  55. 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 :)!

  56. 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!

  57. 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!

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

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

  60. 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?


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