Super-Green Vegan Kale Pesto

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A bowl full of vibrant Super-Green Vegan Pesto surrounded by garnishes such as fresh basil and lemon

In the dead of winter, all I dream about is spring – green, fresh, and flavorful things to get me through. Like this super-vibrant, super-green kale pesto.

It’s easy to make, incredibly versatile depending on what greens and nuts you have on hand, and BIG on flavor. Put this magical sauce on anything to make it 1,000x more delicious.

A platter full of ingredients for making Super-Green Vegan Pesto- including olive oil, garlic, kale, beet greens, basil, Brazil nuts, hemp seeds, lemon, parsley, and nutritional yeast

Origin of Pesto

Pesto is a sauce that is believed to have originated in the Liguria region of northwestern Italy. It’s thought that it may have evolved from a 13th century garlic-based sauce called aggiadda or from the tradition of using aromatic herbs in the Middle Ages.

The first written recipe for pesto was from Giovanni Battista Ratto in his 19th century work The Genoese cuisine. This recipe was a mix of garlic, basil, and cheese (source).

Our plant-based version is not traditional, but uses basil and garlic and has a similar flavor. We add kale and parsley for a diversity of greens and nutrients.

How to Make Vegan Kale Pesto

This recipe requires just 10 minutes, 1 bowl, and 9 ingredients to make.

The base is whatever greens you have on hand – such as kale, collards, or beet greens – and fresh herbs. I love the taste of fresh basil and parsley in pesto, so I suggest both. Feel free to customize with whatever greens and herbs you have on hand.

Food processor filled with ingredients for making our gluten-free Super-Green Vegan Pesto

Next comes your nut or seed of choice – I went for brazil nuts and hemp seeds. Then add lemon for acidity, garlic for flavor and kick, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, and salt for overall flavor.

To keep this recipe oil-free, sub the olive oil for water. Or mix a little of both, which I prefer doing. That way, you get a bit of that creamy texture without adding too much oil.

Food processor with freshly pulsed pesto made with vegan and gluten-free ingredients

A quick blend and bam! Fresh vegan pesto is ready to enjoy on all the carby things.

A bowl of pesto surrounded by ingredients used to make it

We hope you LOVE this pesto. It’s:

Packed with greens
Big on flavor
Super healthy
& Super delicious

This would make the perfect addition to pasta night. I suggest throwing it in things like tofu ricotta cheese or almond ricotta cheese before adding to pasta or pizza, adding a dollop to your marinara for even bolder flavor, or serving with Crispy Gluten-Free Vegan Parmesan, Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, or Sweet Potato Lasagna! It would also be delicious slathered on my Garlic Herb Flatbread. Serious yum.

If you try this dish, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Grabbing a spoonful of our Healthy Super-Green Vegan Pesto

Super-Green Vegan Kale Pesto

Easy vegan pesto with tons of fresh herbs, nutrient-rich kale, seeds, and nutritional yeast! The perfect 10-minute spread or sauce for Italian night and beyond! Vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free optional.
Author Minimalist Baker
HEALTHY Super Green Vegan Pesto! BIG flavor, 10 minutes, 1 bowl, SO delicious. #vegan #glutenfree #plantbased #sauce #pesto #greens #minimalistbaker #recipe
4.97 from 31 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 8 (2-Tbsp servings)
Course Sauce
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Italian-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 5 Days


  • 1 cup packed fresh basil (large stems removed)
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley (large stems removed)
  • 2 cups packed kale (or other sturdy green such as collards or beet greens)
  • 3 Tbsp sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, or brazil nuts (use seeds to keep nut-free)
  • 3 large cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3-4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (if avoiding oil, sub water)
  • 3-6 Tbsp water (plus more as needed)


  • To a food processor or small blender, add the basil, parsley, kale, nuts/seeds, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and sea salt and blend/mix on high until a loose paste forms.
  • Add olive oil (or water) a little at a time (streaming in while the machine is on if possible) and scrape down sides as needed. Then add 1 Tbsp (15 ml // use more or less if altering batch size) water at a time until the desired consistency is reached – a thick but pourable sauce.
  • Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor, salt for overall flavor, seeds for “nuttiness” or thickness, garlic for bite/zing, or lemon juice for acidity.
  • Store covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days. After that, pour into ice cube molds, freeze, and store in the freezer up to 1 month or more.



*Recipe as written makes ~1 cup of pesto.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount of oil (2 Tbsp as recipe is written).

Nutrition (1 of 8 servings)

Serving: 1 two-tablespoon serving Calories: 66 Carbohydrates: 3.8 g Protein: 2.1 g Fat: 5.2 g Saturated Fat: 0.6 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 72 mg Fiber: 1.1 g Sugar: 0.2 g

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My Rating:

  1. Lucy says

    So delicious! I love how forgiving it is, and how many different types of greens I can use for it. I keep trying new ones at the farmer’s market and they all taste delicious! I’ve played around adding a little bit of hemp hearts and garlic powder (to more closely mimic parmesan cheese) with great results. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Amazing! Love that you’ve been getting creative with different greens from the farmer’s market. Thank you for sharing your experience, Lucy! xo

  2. Christine says

    Ok I love the cilantro- did not put as much as I would have for parsley – but a little cilantro and more kale was awesome :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, and that it’s a staple for you. Thanks so much, Christine!

  3. Christine says

    I have made this lots of times in different ways and always yummy!

    Idea- I dont have parsley. What if i subbed cilantro ?

    let me know what ya think :)

  4. Alina says

    I’ve just made this. And it’s divine! I had more kale, so I doubled the amount of seasoning. It’s so good. A lot of kale just virtually turned into a condensed nutrition packed paste. What a great idea to use kale and make it more enjoyable. Will be recommending this recipe to everyone!

  5. Alexandra says

    I made this with my vegan best friend and used beet greens for the base (since I already had a big bunch of beets with greens). We used cashews, pine nuts, and pepitas for the nut/seed mix, and followed the recommendation of adding parsley to the basil since I had a big bunch of each already from my CSA box. It turned out just lovely–creamy from the nuts and zippy and vivid, and we just slathered gobs of it on everything. I didn’t miss the cheese at all.

    It was also a delicious base for my stone fruit pizza. It will probably become a staple in my fridge now, for at least as long as I can get fresh basil and parsley from the farm stand…

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Love your creativity, Alexandra! We’re so glad you’re enjoying the pesto. Thank you for sharing! xo

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Stephanie, we’d suggest leaving it out and reducing the water to compensate. Let us know how it goes!

    • Maggie says

      I usually substitute miso paste for it and reduce or eliminate salt in other areas of a recipe. I do about 1/3 to 1/2 as much miso as I would nutritional yeast. I have tried this is other recipes as well and I honestly like it better. Just add some and taste before adding more.

    • Julie says

      I make this all the time — I double it and it freezes beautifully (I just plonk it in Tupperware, no ice cube trays). It’s great in quinoa bakes as well as pasta.

  6. Jennie says

    This is my favorite pesto, and the only one I make now. If a recipe calls for pesto, I typically substitute it with this one. I like how healthful it is, and it tasted bright, vibrant, and green.

    I have made a few adjustments to suit my taste: 1) I roast the garlic and kale first in some olive oil. I roast it for about 10 minutes.

    2) Like others have mentioned the parsley can be a little overwhelming so I make sure I hard-pack the basil but the parsley I only loosely pack. This balances out the flavors a little more.

    3) I go halvsies on the seeds and add a little more: 2 tbsp hemp, 2 tbsp sunflower.

    Everything else stays as is!

  7. Kaci says

    A love a recipe packed with herbs – a true medicine for the body. I would do 1 1/2 cup of basil and 1/2 cup parsley, I felt like the parsley flavor overpowered the basil. I also added a bit of salt and extra tablespoon or two of seeds. YUM!

  8. Elizabeth says

    A great recipe! I’ve made it several times over the last year. It became an all time favorite when I started blanching the kale before putting it in the food processor. I found the uncooked kale was a little fibrous for my taste and the pesto was not as vibrant green as I wanted. Blanching it makes it bright green and helps the whole thing blend a little smoother!

    I put the kale in a pot of boiling water for ~30 seconds before draining the cooked kale into colander and proceeding with the recipe as written. I generally don’t need as much water as suggested because the cooked kale retains some water. I then cook the pasta in the same water I blanched the kale.

  9. Kathryn says

    This is my favourite pesto ever! I never thought I liked pesto (had only had store-bought basil pesto) until I made this. Delicious with some roasted root veg 😋

  10. Siuwai M says

    As always, your recipes are so simple and delicious. I made this last night and it was so flavorful and easy to make. Thank you for all you do.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, thanks so much for your kind words and lovely review, Siuwai! We’re so glad you enjoyed it! xo

  11. Debbie says

    I love ALL recipes you offer. I have many problems such as Compromised auto immune system. Before I make anything I visit your site and 95% of the time I end up making something you’ve posted. I haven’t disliked anything this far. My family all agrees also. Thank you for all you give me.

    • Debbie says

      PS. The 3 ingredient quinoa bread is a staple in our home! We make savory (garlic, onion, etc and sweet (Cinnamon, maple syrup, honey, etc) as well. Love it!!!! ❤️

      • Shelly says

        Hi there! I was reading through reviews and saw this one raving about 3 ingredient quina bread but no recipe pops up when I search. Hoping it’s out there somewhere :-)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, thank you so much for your kind words and lovely review, Debbie. We are so glad you find our recipes helpful! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  12. Jodi says

    I made this recipe today to test for a Valentines work cook off next week. It was delicious. I did not deviate from the recipe. I tested it over corn/quinoa pasta and it was delicious. I did sprinkle a little garlic salt.e and a touch of Parmesan on my portion. I then cooked another bath and froze both for next week’s event. I will let you know if people like it. Thank you.

  13. Michele says

    I’m not dairy or nut or oil free, I just stumbled onto this recipe while trying to find something to do with a ton of slightly past it’s prime kale! So I used almonds and olive oil and parmesan, but I kept everything in your measurements, and it was delicious! Thanks for helping me not waste food!

  14. Christine says

    I have made this recipe lots of times- with walnuts/ kale, hemp seeds and collard greens, basil/ cilantro/ parsley and they are all amazingly fabulous! I had a whole party of people asking for the recipe. Bravo! Love it! Thank you!

  15. Shelaki says

    Wow! This really knocked it out of the park! We grow our own spinach in a hoop house during the winter so I used that instead of the kale. Plus hemp hearts and walnuts, and then I added chunks of marinated tofu and sliced sun-dried tomatoes,
    and had it with GF penne.
    My husband is the undisputed Pesto King in the summer (we grow a LOT of basil) and even he said it was awesome!
    (Looking forward to trying the garlic scape version as we also grow whacks of garlic)

    • Naomi says

      Yum. My garden is full of snap peas, kale, coriander and parsley, so that’s what I used tonight. With walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and nutritional yeast. Nutritious and delicious.

  16. Lisa says

    I appreciate how consistently delicious your recipes are. Made this tonight with angel hair pasta, shrimp and kalamata olives, it was wonderful! After making many of your recipes, I bought your book about a year ago. Those recipes are also healthy and fantastic! Thank you for all your work to bring my husband and I so many great dishes.

  17. Sheila says

    I have just made this and it tastes great! I love the fact it does not require nuts which many pesto’s do (and they can be expensive to make then.)
    I had kale in my garden and fresh basil so it was perfect. Thanks again Dana for another of your amazing recipes.

  18. Elizabeth B says

    Hi! I don’t usually comment but I made this using sunflower seeds (for the nuts) and garlic scapes and fresh dill (for the greens) tonight and it was absolutely to die for. Served it with zoodles and not a thing more. It disappeared in like half a second. I love scape season!
    I wish I had thought to take a picture.

  19. Jacki says

    This is so bright and flavorful! My husband is definitely a traditional pesto guy but I served this with baguette and we both loved it. I’ll use the leftover half with pasta later this week. Great recipe!

  20. LL says

    Your blog is awesome and this looks amazing! I was wondering if there are any non acidic subs for garlic and especially the lemon? Or would the recipe still be ok if I left them out. I have a health issue that forces me to sadly avoid these ingredients ☹️

  21. Arielle says

    What would you recommend for replacing the lemon juice in this recipe? We’ve recently learned that my son is allergic to citrus – so I’d also love your thoughts on replacing lemon in any recipe… do you have a go-to solution? Thanks!

  22. Tina says

    I made this today with some chickpea pasta and it was so good! I added some avocado in the sauce and it was even creamier and delicious. I also used raw almonds, and didn’t get much of a nutty taste. Should I have toasted them? Or is another kind of nut or seed closer to the pine nut flavor?

  23. Dottie says

    The pesto was so tasty. I used the sunflower seeds. Glad to find a pesto recipe without pinenuts as my daughter is allergic so I never get to make pesto.
    The only issue was the pasta was a little dry but I think it was due to not serving immediately.
    I am trying to make more plant based meals and have enjoyed the ones I have made of yours.
    Thank you!

    • Maggie says

      I usually substitute miso paste for it and reduce or eliminate salt in other areas of a recipe. I do about 1/3 to 1/2 as much miso as I would nutritional yeast. I have tried this is other recipes as well and I honestly like it better. Just add some and taste before adding more.

  24. Kailey says

    I just made this tonight for dinner and I had to leave a comment, so incredibly good!! One of my favorite pesto recipes ever

  25. Faith says

    I made this tonight with walnuts and the higher end of lemon juice, oil and water. After tasting, I poured a GENEROUS amount over plain quinoa and tempeh. One of the best meals ever. I love your cookbook, btw!

  26. Erica says

    A delicious condiment and sauce with a very flexible recipe! I had parsley on hand, as well as spinach, and it worked beautifully. Hemp seeds also lend the recipe a creamy texture and taste. Try to make some today, and have it over pasta with veggies! Delish!

  27. Mirek says

    It’s great you have nutrition information at the end! I made this pesto, but added too much lemon juice and it was really sour.. that little bit ruined it :/

  28. Cassie Thuvan Tran says

    Pesto can NEVER be too green :) I love this recipe! Would the consistency/flavor change if you were to use spinach or kale instead of basil as the base?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I like having some herbs, especially basil, because it adds that quintessential pesto flavor. But you could try subbing more greens for a less intense herb flavor. Hope that helps!

  29. Kristen says

    I made this tonight over spinach gnocchi. I only had kale and used cashews. It was wonderful, but nowhere as pretty as yours. What measurements would you suggest for a cup of dried pasta?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      What kind of greens did you use? For the dry pasta, maybe 2 cups dry (uncooked)? It depends on the sauciness you prefer. Decrease amount of pasta for saucier end result.

  30. janet sutherland says

    made this and it is very very yummy! used it on “pizza bites” instead of tomatoe sauce with a little smoked salmon and a bit of fresh mozzarella… outstanding recipe!

  31. Fani Malik says

    I LOOOOVE your blog and your wonderful recipes! Thank you so much for all your time and dedication to be one of the best food blogs ever!

  32. Jessica R says

    Made this today and used it as a sauce for pasta. IT IS SO DELICIOUS!! I am not a big fan of kale, but you can’t even taste it in this recipe, which is awesome! It is super flavorful with all the fresh basil and parsley. Can’t wait to make it again!! :)

  33. Elaine says

    Hi! Love your recipes!! They are always dependably delicious!!
    I want to make this kale pesto but using a cup of fresh basil could be very pricey around these parts (New Mexico in Feb.) Do you grow your own basil? I would enjoy some tips on growing basil in pots indoors.???

  34. Camille Ott says

    Awesome recipe ! I will try it tomorrow for a girl’s brunch :) I also love your videos, so nicely done. Bravo !

  35. Elizabeth says

    I imagine this will taste fine either way. You wrote, “To keep this recipe oil-free, sub the olive oil for water.” This means replace the olive oil with water. That’s not a way to make the recipe oil free. That would be confusing enough, but since your recipe lists both oil and water, it’s ridiculous. Replace the oil with water or substitute water for the oil would make your point clearly.

  36. magdalena says

    what about if i use spinach for the greens? the green that you mention are a bit strong for me, and sometimes they turn a bit bitter, so do you think spinach should work?

    thank you for the recipes!!! i love them all!!

  37. Taylor Miller (HaleLife) says

    You share the best recipes out of everyone that I know! I recommend your blog to all of my vegetarian friends. Can’t wait to give this a try too! Thanks for sharing this!

  38. Sophie says

    I LOOOOVE your blog and your wonderful recipes! Thank you so much for all your time and dedication to be one of the best food blogs ever! :-)

    For this recipe, I was wondering if you think that almonds, hazelnuts or cashews would be a good substitute for brazil nuts? Which one would you choose?

    Many thanks!!!

    • Lesley Bannister says

      I regularly use Pecans, Walnuts and Almonds in my pesto, just depends on the flavour you’re looking for as all are deliciously different – or the traditional pine-nut too. I prefer to toast the nuts for just a few minutes before processing.

    • Ttrockwood says

      I use raw cashews that have been soaked ovenight, then drain before using. They make a greatcreamy texture!