This garlicky spinach pesto with hints of walnuts and fresh herbs is perfect for spreading on toasty bread or tossing with pasta. Savory parmesan and lemon juice make it just like the real deal!
Why You’ll Love This Spinach Pesto Recipe
You’ll never get store-bought pesto again after you see how easy and authentic this homemade version is!
- Convenient. It lasts for quite a bit, so it’s great for keeping in the fridge when you want to add more flavor to your meals.
- Quick. This homemade pesto is ready in just 5 minutes.
- Beginner-friendly. You only need to blend everything together.
- Versatile. Use it for pasta, sandwiches, steak, and even salads!
What You’ll Need
Lemon juice and zest help brighten things up. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.
- Baby spinach – You can use regular spinach but remove the stems.
- Fresh basil – It needs to be green, not purple.
- Fresh parsley – Choose parsley with bright green leaves and no yellow stems.
- Walnuts – Feel free to use pine nuts.
- Parmesan cheese – Make sure it’s freshly-grated, not the kind in a bottle.
- Garlic – Avoid garlic powder because it’ll make the pesto grainy.
- Fresh lemon juice – Reduce the amount by half if you use limes.
- Lemon zest – It needs to be fresh zest.
- Salt and pepper – Kosher salt and freshly-cracked pepper are best.
- Extra virgin olive oil – This is also referred to as “EVOO.”
How to Make Spinach Pesto
All you need to do is blend! Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more detailed instructions.
- Process it. Add all of the ingredients to the food processor. Pulse until completely smooth. Scrape the sides of the food processor as needed.
- Season and adjust. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Adjust the consistency to taste by adding a bit more olive oil and mixing well. Serve with your favorite pasta and enjoy!
Tips For Success
Blanching the spinach and using roasted garlic are two secrets that only pesto lovers know.
- Make it spicy. Stir in red pepper flakes or chili oil to taste for a kick of heat.
- Make it cheesier. Swap half of the parmesan for pecorino cheese. It’s extra sharp and savory, adding great flavor to the sauce.
- Roast the garlic. Cover an entire garlic bulb with olive oil and wrap it in foil. You want to wrap it completely so that the steam is trapped inside. Pop it into the oven at 400˚F for 30-45 minutes. Unwrap it carefully and let it cool. Squeeze the garlic into the blender as usual for some toasty goodness.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes. Place 1 to 2 sun-dried tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of their oil in the blender for a tomato-pesto variation.
- Swap the nuts. Change the walnuts for pecans, almonds, or macadamia nuts. You can also use a mix of nuts.
- Blanch it. Drop the spinach into a pot of boiling water for 10-20 seconds. Strain it immediately and add the spinach to the blender. This will prevent the pesto from browning.
Ways to Use Spinach Basil Pesto
Herby spinach pesto with basil and spicy parsley takes on new life depending on what it’s added to. Here are some ideas:
- Toast: You can spread it on breakfast toasts like my Avocado Toast or Savory Feta Cheese French Toast.
- Pasta: Cook (and drain) your favorite short or long pasta and stir in 1-3 tablespoons pesto while it’s still hot. Add more sauce to taste.
- Sandwiches: Spread the toasty bread in my Lasagna Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with 1-2 tablespoons pesto.
- Salads: Drizzle it over my Macedonian-Style Grape Caprese Salad.
- Steak: Serve it as a dipping sauce for my Reverse Sear Steak or New York Strip Steak.
- Chicken: Air Fryer Rotisserie Chicken and Roast Chicken are some of my favorite.
- Place it in an airtight container or jar and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. This cheesy pesto can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature.
More Homemade Sauce Recipes
- Honey Mustard Sauce Recipe
- Blender Hollandaise Sauce Recipe
- Quick and Easy Enchilada Sauce Recipe
- Homemade Alfredo Sauce with Basil Pesto
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- ½ cup chopped walnuts or pine nuts
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, use more or less for desired consistency
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.
- Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.
- If you prefer a thinner consistency, add more olive oil and process until combined.
- Transfer the spinach pesto to a jar with a lid and keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.