Vegan Kale Pesto

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Learn how to make Vegan Kale Pesto in minutes, a delicious and nutritious sauce that tastes even better than classic basil pesto version. This vegan version is so easy to make in a food processor and so versatile

Vegan Kale Pesto

One thing I love about summertime is all the fresh herbs and vegetables that thrive so well in my garden. I get to include them in my sauces and stews and they definitely 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 instead of tomato sauce on pizza, or toss with hot gnocchi. 

Traditional pesto recipe has dairy, it’s usually made with basil, pinenuts, 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 used baby kale but any kale can be used, just remove the tough veins and chop.
  • Basil 
  • Walnut
  • Garlic
  • Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil

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 in. 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 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 to 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



(Per portion)
  • Energy: 200 kcal / 836 kJ
  • Fat: 20 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Carbs: 1 g

Cooking Time

  • Preparation: 5 min
  • Cooking: 2 min
  • Ready in: 7 min
  • For:
  • 8 servings



  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor except the olive oil, process until a paste is formed. Stop the food processor and scrape down the sides.
  2. Continue to process, slowly drizzle olive oil.  Taste 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.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.

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Rate this recipe

  1. Senia
    February 24, 2019

    Love this recipe, so flavorful!

    • Michelle Blackwood
      February 24, 2019

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it Senia, thank you for your feedback.

  2. Tanya
    July 19, 2015

    Wow, that looks so delicious! I don’t have a food processor though. Would there be any other good way to properly mix the ingredients?

  3. Brooke
    July 17, 2015

    I LOOOOOVE pesto! What a great idea to add the kale and make it that much more nutrient-filled. Healthy and delicious is always a win-win. Extra bonus, it’s so pretty! Great photo :)

  4. Shannon Peterson
    July 16, 2015

    Yum! I love that you used Kale for a little extra health benefits!

  5. Healing Tomato
    July 16, 2015

    This is my new favorite Pesto recipe. I love that vibrant green color. It is nice to see a pesto recipe that is nothing like the traditional pesto recipe.

  6. Kelly
    July 16, 2015

    I admit, I was never a healthy eater but lately I have really been trying my best to improve on that. I will be putting this recipe on my list of foods to try. Thanks.

  7. Sabrina @ Dinner, then Dessert
    July 16, 2015

    What a great change up of classic pesto! I love the flavor of kale so I know I would love this!

  8. Julia // A Cedar Spoon
    July 16, 2015

    This is such a great way to make pesto! I love that you used kale. I have to try this out.

  9. Kate
    July 16, 2015

    This looks great and a different take on how I usually make pesto! Cant wait to try it!

  10. Heather Serra
    July 16, 2015

    Beautiful photo! I am all about kale. I can’t wait to give this a try. If it tastes as good as it looks, I’ll have a new staple! :)

  11. Dayne
    July 16, 2015

    I have never been a kale fan….but this recipe has actually picqued my interest! I think I will put this in my recipe queue!

  12. heather @french press
    July 16, 2015

    what a fun twist on classic pesto! and that color is gorgeous

  13. Heather @ The Deans List Blog
    July 16, 2015

    Kale is my favorite! Yum! This looks so delicious and healthy!

  14. Katherine
    July 16, 2015

    I’ll have to try this the next time I get kale from the farmers market (hopefully Saturday!) And to Bob’s comment, you can veganize anything, even kale stems au gratin :)

  15. Bob
    September 8, 2013

    I blanch kale in a steamer, squeeze out a fistful, reserving the liquid for a little flavor in cooking rice and such, then cut along the length, then about 1/2 slices. Fluff this out into a plastic baggie and freeze in 3-4 oz portions to add to soups and pilafs and such.

    Forgot something — first I cut the stems away. Blanch them too or use raw in a smoothie. Stems cut in 1/4″ pieces and blanched I’ve used in an au gratin, but that’s not exactly vegan.