Kale Pesto (dairy Free)

Clean Plate Mama
by Clean Plate Mama
8 servings
10 min
All you need is 5 minutes and 6 simple ingredients for this dairy free kale pesto recipe! Bright and flavorful, it goes great with pasta and is ideal for topping on meat/fish, grilled vegetables, eggs, or pizza.
Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Easy – this pesto requires only 6 simple ingredients and 5 minutes!
  • Dairy free – you won’t even be able to tell there isn’t any cheese in this dairy free pesto – it’s bursting with fresh flavor!
  • Healthy – kale and walnuts make for a super healthy pesto sauce.
  • Mix of kale and basil – I’ve made pesto with only kale before, but I love basil so much that I needed a pesto in my life that had both kale and basil. This pesto has the healthy benefits of kale, plus the vibrant flavor of basil. It’s a win-win 🙂

Ingredient Notes

Kale – I recommend using curly kale. That is what I always use. You could try lacinato kale, but that is a bit richer in flavor and might be overpowering.

Basil – you will for sure want fresh basil leaves, not dried.

Walnuts – I have made this using walnuts and almonds, so if you’re looking for an almond pesto, you can for sure swap the walnuts for almonds. And either way, this pesto is great for those who want pesto without pine nuts.

Tips for Keeping the Ingredients Clean

Here are some tips when it comes to keeping this kale pesto recipe clean! And know that if you don’t use items with my recommendations below, the recipe will still turn out great.

Kale – kale repeatedly shows up on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, meaning it contains a high amount of pesticide residue. Because of this, I always buy organic kale.

Olive oil – you absolutely want to use extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO). It is the best form of olive oil you can buy.

Basil – buying organic will ensure you don’t have any pesticide residue on those beautifully green flavorful leaves!

Walnuts – because non-organic nuts (including walnuts) are typically treated with a variety of pesticides, I like buying organic walnuts.

Step-by-Step Process for Making Pesto

Step 1: Add all ingredients, except for the olive oil, to a food processor.
Step 2: Process until ingredients start to form a paste; 30-45 seconds. You may need to scrape down the sides a couple times. Next, add the olive oil.
Step 3: Pulse a few times after you add the olive oil. You can check your pesto at this time and if it’s too thick for you liking, you can add in a little more olive oil and pulse again.
Step 4: Dig in!

So Many Ways to Enjoy Pesto!

Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy this kale pesto recipe.

  • Toss with some pasta for a dairy-free pesto pasta night!
  • Sheet pan dinners – bake up some chicken breasts and veggies of your choice and then top chicken and veggies with pesto.
  • Spread on pizza instead of red sauce, or add a few dollops on the top of your pizza.
  • Spread on a sandwich (cold or grilled).
  • Thin it out with water, or more extra-virgin olive oil, and use as a salad dressing.
  • Add a dollop on top of eggs.
Pesto FAQs

How long does this last? Freezer: Can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.Fridge: Will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days. Can I add cheese to this? For sure! I was going for a dairy-free pesto, but you could absolutely add in 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese. What about nutritional yeast? Nutritional yeast is a great option if you want a cheese-y flavor without the dairy. Add 2-3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast if desired.

Tips & Notes

Kale – this recipe calls for torn kale leaves. Tear the kale leaves from the thick, inner stems.

Nuts – you can swap the walnuts for almonds for an almond pesto, either way turns out great if you’re looking for a pesto without pine nuts.

Consistency – if you’re pesto is too thick for liking, add in some additional extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Freezing – I like to freeze my pesto in ice cube trays so that I can just take out a little bit at a time when life calls for pesto!
Other Recipes You Might Like!
Easy Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (soy-free, gluten-free)
Berry Chia Jam
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Fresh Guacamole

If you make this recipe, please let me know what you think! I would so appreciate you leaving a star rating and/or comment below. And don’t forget to share a photo on Instagram or Facebook and mention @CleanPlateMama!

Eat Clean.Be Healthy!-Sara
Recipe details
  • 8  servings
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 5 Minutes Total time: 10 min
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  • ▢ 2 cups torn kale leaves (tightly packed)
  • ▢ 1 cup fresh basil leaves (about 15-20 large basil leaves)
  • ▢ 1 clove garlic, peeled (if your cloves are small, you could use 2)
  • ▢ 1/3 cup walnuts
  • ▢ 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ▢ 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients, except the extra-virgin olive oil, to a food processor. Process on high until a paste begins to form (about 30-45 seconds). You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor occasionally.
Add olive oil and pulse a few times until mixed. You can check your pesto at this time and if it’s too thick for your liking, you can add in additional olive oil (1 tbsp. at a time). If too thin, you can add in additional kale or basil.
Taste and adjust flavor to your liking.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • I recommend using curly kale. When preparing the kale, tear the kale leaves from the thick, inner stems and discard of the inner stem.
  • Season to taste – after adding the olive oil, give the pesto a try! You can add more salt, or even garlic, if you desire.
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