Take a look at how to sneak more kale into your diet. Avoiding all dips and spreads that are made with seed oils such as canola oil, sunflower oil or just plain generic ‘vegetable oil’ is so difficult, so have a go at making your own kale pesto using just olive oil.

It’s pretty simple and you know exactly what goes into it. And to top it all off, the recipe is nut free.

A classic pesto contains pinenuts (which is actually a seed) and sometimes cashews, but I have omitted them for 2 reasons – 1) they are expensive 2) so many readers are requesting nut free recipes due to allergies or school restricitons.

Kale pesto poured into ice cube trays

Kale Pesto

I love leafy greens as they are packed with nutrition and incredibly low carb. At every meal I try to eat a variety of leafy greens. Kale is incredibly versatile as it can be baked, fried, stir fried, sautéed, steamed or eaten raw. This recipe for kale pesto uses raw kale, olive oil, basil, garlic and parmesan. Now what’s not to love about that combo?

Kale is a great vegetable to grow in your garden as it can be relatively expensive to buy in the supermarket, yet tends to grow like wildfire (especially when ignored in my case). So this is a great recipe to use up all that excess kale. I’m sure you could even make this with spinach, you would just need to play around with how much olive oil is required.

TOP TIP :: If kale pesto turns out a little bitter, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter. This can take the edge off the kale if you are not used to it. Many spreads and dips contain sugars or sweeteners, so it may take a while to acclimatise your new sugar free taste buds.

TOP TIP :: To make this dairy free, omit the parmesan and butter. Add other herbs to bump up the flavour.

So how do you use pesto when you cant have crackers and pasta? Glad you asked. How about stirring a few tablespoons through zoodles for an entirely green meal?

Using slices of cucumber is my number one cracker alternative. Grain free seed crackers and best of all, on the base of a low carb pizza. FatHead pizza is the most downloaded recipe for the entire website. And one final option, how about using cracker crackling for a dipping tool?

Kale pesto served in a white bowl and ice cube trays

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  1. Pine nuts aren’t nuts, they are the seeds of the pine cone.

  2. This looks so good. In a cookbook I use, the author serves it with green tostones, fried green plantains. (They’re quickly fried–then smooshed–then fried again.) (Being green, they’d be higher in resistant starch, making them more low-carb compatible. Not perfectly so, unless you ate them cold maybe…) I also like to use garden fresh zucchini (courgette). I love basil. When I can walk out to the garden and get my own, it’s even more fun. I can’t always get big bunches of basil at my supermarket here. 🙁


    1. Great suggestions Terri, I love anything green. I am growing courgettes at the moment and if I’m lucky, my basil will go wild in a few weeks so I’ll make a huge batch of this and freeze it ready for winter. My kale goes wild and silver beet so I’m trying to think of extra ways to utilise them. Yay for a small veggie patch. Libby x

  3. For how long can this pesto be frozen? Does the pesto change colour after a while?

    1. I am still ploughing through ours after making it a month ago and is still tasty and a vibrant green. I would guess it would be OK to keep it frozen for up to 3 months.

  4. pretty please, how much kale is “4 cups?” Do you have a weight for it? I haven’t the first clue how to measure “4 cups” of a large leafy green (same for the spinach!) Am I supposed to chop it up and measure the cups? Press it in the cup or keep it loose? Wad it up in a ball and stuff in the cup? ACK!!

    1. You know what? I never measured anything until I started my website but I have to write it all up as accurately as possible so there is no misunderstanding ( I even get wrapped on the knuckles if I use grams not cups). I would use the best guesstimate that a good handful of chopped up kale is equal to a cup. It really doesn’t need to be accurate for this recipe, just throw it all in and adjust as you go. That’s more my style of cooking so feel free to ‘wing it’. 🙂

  5. T. Bastress says:

    I just made this and WOW! It is so good. I used baby kale and dried basil because that is what I had on hand. I threw in some walnuts too. Really, so good! I didn’t need any butter either.Thank you!

  6. Dear Libby,
    I made the pesto today…had to Change Things and it turned out fantastic!!! I used 100g Spinat (I had only frozen; so I let it for 3 hours at room temperature; than added 45g Basilikum; 1 Garlic (3g); 1/2 tsp salt; 20g Oliven oil extra virgen; 30g Parmesan and 1 tsp lime juice – in my Thermomix 35 sek. at 7…. and I had ONLY FOR ME…. a great deal mit zoodles….. yummi….
    Details only for the pesto (without Zucchini noodles):
    Kcal: 245
    Fat: 20,1g
    Protein: 11,3g
    Fiber: 3.6g

    Extremely delicioso!!!!
    Sorry for the grammar….it is a mix of english portuguese and german!!! 🙂

    1. I absolutely love it when readers share their adaptations of my recipes, I encourage it. I want everyone to play in the kitchen and make up their own dishes. it also helps everyone who doesn’t have the exact ingredients I have use, so thank you Ingrid, keep them coming (and you have reminded me, I need to try a thermomix).

      1. Oh you should try the Thermomix! 🙂 i am happy that i do not have anymore so many Electric appliances in my small kitchen!

      2. Why is it necessary to use parmesan cheese

  7. Would coriander work instead of basil in this recipe and if I want pine nuts in it how much should I use please

  8. Is it necessary to freeze it?

  9. Is it necessary to freeze it? ?