Nut Free Pesto with Kale - Chef Abbie Gellman MS, RD, CDN

Nut Free Pesto with Kale

Chef Abbie Gellman RD

Pesto is one of my go-to secrets when I need to add flavor to any kind of dish. I love it because you can easily adjust the recipe to include herbs you have on hand or to account for allergies and food preferences. This nut free pesto recipe uses kale, which adds a big boost of health promoting vitamins and minerals, plus lots of savory goodness from garlic and parmesan cheese. Give it a try! 

How to Make Nut Free Pesto with Kale

Most of my recipes are simple and don’t require too much work, but this one might take the cake. No chopping or prepping required! Just throw all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and let your machine do all of the work.

If you don’t have a food processor or blender to do the work, I’ve also successfully made pesto with a tool called an immersion blender, which works like a blender at the end of a handheld stick. This is great tool to have around if you don’t have the space to house a larger blending appliance.

Different Ways to Use Pesto

As I mentioned above, pesto is SO versatile. You can make pesto out of any herbs you have in the house: basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, dill… anything goes! Obviously, it’s delicious on pasta but also try it out on sandwiches, thinned out as a salad dressing, slathered on a pizza, mixed into yogurt for a veggie dip, a dollop on your morning eggs, stirred into soup or use it as a marinade for grilled chicken or veggies. Endless options!

I also like to make extra to have around the house for when I need to add extra flavor to a dish. Try freezing your pesto in ice cube trays. Pop out the pesto ice cubes and store in a bag or plastic container in the freezer—you’ll never have to be without perfect pesto!

Kale Nutrition

Another reason I love this recipe is because it’s a great way to sneak in some extra nutrients with the addition of kale. This nutrient rich green is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C and K, and minerals like magnesium and calcium.

It’s also packed with phytochemicals that act as antioxidants with many health protective effects. Antioxidants have been shown to help reduce damage done by free radicals in the body, which can promote oxidative stress, leading to various disease states such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.1 Kale pesto for the win!

Living Nut Free

Typically, pesto recipes include some kind of nut (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds…), which can add flavor and texture to the finished product, but with many individuals suffering from nut allergies, it’s nice to have a nut free alternative. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, roughly 0.5 to 1% of the US population is allergic to tree nuts and nearly 2.5% of children are allergic to peanuts.2 With these numbers, it’s likely you know someone with a nut allergy, so hopefully you can put this nut free pesto recipe to use!

If nuts are safe in your household, feel free to add walnuts. Walnuts will also give you a boost of healthy fat and fiber and they are an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids. Use them in place of the parmesan cheese to make your pesto vegan!

Similar pages

Feeling inspired to make more sauces and dressings? Good, there are more to choose from! Try out my Tahini Yogurt Sauce, Pistachio Pesto or Avocado Green Goddess Dressing and let me know what you think.


  1. Gunnars K. 10 Health Benefits of Kale. Healthline. Published June 29, 2018. Accessed March 28, 2020.
  2. Everything You Need to Know about Tree Nut Allergy: AAAAI. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Accessed March 28, 2020.
Nut Free Pesto with Kale

Kale Pesto

1.5 ounces per serving
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword: vegetarian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Author: Chef Abbie Gellman RD


  • 2 cups kale
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (note: can swap out cheese for walnuts)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper


  • Blend all ingredients together in vitamix


2 thoughts on “Nut Free Pesto with Kale

  1. I love the vibrant, gorgeous green colour. It looks delicious! Thank you for including a dairy free options. I’d definitely load it up with walnuts and add in a little nutritional yeast. A kale pesto pasta is a family fave ?. Always a great meal option. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

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