Kale takes the center stage in this delicious and nutritious recipe for pesto sauce!

A creamy pesto is a cinch to pull together and can be used on pasta, or as a topping for baked potatoes, fish, and even meats like chicken, beef, or pork!

Kale Pesto in a jar with a spoon beside it

What is Pesto Sauce?

Originating in Italy, pesto is an emulsion made with basil leaves, garlic, oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. But the term pesto can refer to any blend of greens, garlic, nuts, and cheese.

In this case we’re swapping out the basil found in a traditional pesto sauce for kale. We love this because it takes just minutes to make and kale is available all year long!

If you don’t have pine nuts, they can easily be swapped for walnuts, almonds or pecans.

PRO TIP: Lightly toast nuts in a sauté pan and cool completely before using in recipes. This makes them extra crunchy and intensifies their flavor!

ingredients to make Kale Pesto in the food processor

How to Make Kale Pesto

Perfect pesto is always made in a food processor to ensure even and thorough blending. Even a small countertop blender will do, as long as you work in batches.

  1. Toast pine nuts.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except kale in a food processor and pulse until well blended.

blending ingredients before adding kale to make Kale Pesto

  1. Add chopped kale and blend.
  2. Slowly add olive oil while the blender is running until the mixture is blended to a creamy consistency. Season with salt.

Kale Pesto after blending


The best way to keep kale pesto is in a mason jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid. Kale pesto should keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Pesto freezes well. Fill an ice cube tray and freeze. Pop frozen cubes directly into pastas or sauces.

Kale Pesto Uses

  • Kale pesto can be added to mayonnaise for a sandwich spread, or diluted with balsamic vinegar and tossed with steamed or roasted veggies. Try it with cauliflower, potatoes, or carrots.
  • It’s also a great dip for fresh veggies and a tasty spread over garlic bread!
  • Add to mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, soups, or sauces for additional depth of flavor.
  • Pizza or pasta salad tastes amazing with pesto sauce. Add some white cheddar and serve it with whole wheat pasta and garlic butter shrimp for a super tasty meal!
  • Spoon it over a block of cream cheese and top with some fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, or roasted bell peppers.

Delicious Kale Dishes

Did your family love this Kale Pesto? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

close up of Kale Pesto in a mason jar with a spoon and kale in the background
5 from 3 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Quick Homemade Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto is easy, flavorful, and chock full of nutritious, fresh ingredients!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
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  • 3 cups kale washed, chopped, and packed
  • ½ cup pine nuts or walnuts or almonds
  • ⅓ to ½ cup olive oil or as needed
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese
  • kosher salt to taste


  • Place the pine nuts in a shallow frying pan and cook over medium heat stirring or shaking until fragrant and golden, about 4 minutes. Cool.
  • Combine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, parmesan cheese in a food processor and process until combined.
  • Add kale and process until combined. With the processor running, add oil to reach desired consistency. Season with salt to taste.


If you don't have pine nuts, they can easily be swapped for almonds, pecans or other nuts.
Kale pesto should keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. 
5 from 3 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 356 | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 247mg | Potassium: 361mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 5131IU | Vitamin C: 63mg | Calcium: 246mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Dip, Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian
Kale Pesto in a jar with writing
ingredients to make Kale Pesto with writing
Kale Pesto in the food processor with a title
Kale Pesto with a title


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About the author

Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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  1. We make & use a lot of Pesto, so I’ll have to try this one. I can’t always find a large box of basil when I need it, but kale sounds like a tasty and an interesting substitute. There’s never any jarred pesto here, since they contain waaay too much salt to be healthy. Thanks for this recipe…very nice.