One thing I love about summertime is all the fresh herbs and vegetables that thrive in my garden. I get to include them in my sauces and stews, and they take my recipes to another level. Nothing like fresh basil and kale leaves picked fresh from the garden.  I decided to capture some of its amazing flavors in my this kale basil pesto recipe.

Vegan Kale Pesto

So if you are trying to figure out what to do with your summer surplus of basil, then this amazing tasting pesto recipe is just for you. Serve it as a dip, use it instead of tomato sauce on pizza, or toss with hot gnocchi.

The traditional pesto recipe has dairy, it’s usually made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and aged hard cheese. My version uses nutritional yeast flakes for a cheesy taste. I used walnuts instead of pinenuts, you are welcome to substitute the nuts for your favorite.

Kale is a superfood that is packed with nutrients. It is one of the highest sources of Vitamin A, which strengthens your vision and immune system. It is also high in Vitamin C and K. I am always trying to find ways to implement it in our meals. Read more about the Benefits Of Kale.

Kale Pesto Ingredients

  • Kale: I opt for baby kale for its tender texture and slightly sweeter taste compared to mature varieties. However, any type of kale can be used once you’ve removed the tough veins and roughly chopped the leaves. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, adding not only a lovely green hue but also a wealth of vitamins and minerals to the pesto.
    Basil: Fresh basil leaves contribute a fragrant, herby brightness that is essential to any pesto. Its fresh flavor complements the robustness of kale, creating a perfect herbal base.
    Walnuts: These add a delightful crunch and earthy nuttiness to the pesto. Walnuts are a great alternative to the traditional pine nuts found in pesto and are excellent for adding depth and texture.
    Garlic: Essential for its bold flavor, garlic adds a pungent kick that accentuates the other ingredients and brings classic Italian flair to the pesto.
    Nutritional Yeast Flakes: A staple in vegan cooking, nutritional yeast flakes offer a cheesy, savory flavor that enriches the pesto while keeping it dairy-free. They also pack additional nutrients, such as B-vitamins.
    Lemon Juice: Just a splash helps to brighten the overall flavors of the pesto, adding a light, zesty tang that cuts through the richness of the olive oil and walnuts.
    Salt: A pinch enhances all the flavors of the pesto, bringing out the individual notes of each component and balancing the tartness of the lemon and the earthiness of the kale and walnuts.
    Olive Oil: The oil acts as the blending medium that emulsifies the pesto, ensuring a smooth and spreadable consistency. It also imparts a rich, fruity flavor that ties together all the elements of the pesto beautifully.

You can use any variety of kale, whether it is Lacinato, Lark’s Tongue, Red Russian, Siberian, or Vates. The taste of the basil will be more dominant, so you don’t have to worry if you are not a fan of kale.

Fresh kale, basil leaves, garlic for vegan garlic pesto on a wooden board

How To Make Kale Pesto?

  1. Using a food processor, add kale, basil, walnuts, garlic, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, and salt. Process until pesto reaches the desired texture; scrape down the sides of the food processor. Cover food processor with its lid, and start processing again, Slowly drizzle the olive oil while processing to form a paste.
  2. Taste the pesto to make sure it has enough salt; add more if needed. Also, if your pesto is to dry, add extra olive oil. Scoop the pesto into a container with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
  3. You can also add oil on top of the pesto, this helps reduce oxidation.
vegan kale pesto ingredients in the food processor

What Can I Use Pesto For?

  • Pasta
  • Sandwich Spread
  • Gnocchi
  • Pizza
  • Dip
  • Salad dressing

Can You Freeze Pesto?

Absolutely, freeze your pesto during summer and enjoy the taste of summer of winter long. To freeze pesto, blend all the ingredients and pour into ice cube trays. Once frozen, place the kale pesto cubes into a freezer container in the freezer. When you are ready to use, remove the amount you need and thaw.

Other Kale Recipes To Try

Vegan Kale pesto in a glass jar, made with kale, basil, garlic on a wooden cutting board

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Vegan pesto in a glass jar on a wooden cutting board

Vegan Kale Pesto

Learn how to make Vegan Kale Pesto in minutes, a delicious and nutritious sauce that tastes even better than the classic basil pesto version. This vegan version is so easy to make in a food processor and so versatile
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: kale pesto, pesto
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Servings: 6 People
Calories: 157kcal



  • 1 cup kale stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt


  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor except the olive oil, and process until a paste is formed. Stop the food processor and scrape down the sides.
  • Continue to process; slowly drizzle olive oil. Taste the pesto to ensure it has enough salt; add more if needed. Also, if your pesto is too dry, add extra olive oil.
  • Scoop the pesto into a container with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for about 3 days.


Calories: 157kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 196mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 563IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg