Easy Spinach Pesto

This delicious homemade spinach pesto recipe is easy to make without basil, is packed full of healthy goodness, and looks so pretty! A great way to use up a bag of spinach!

spinach pesto in a bwol with nuts and olive oil.

Are you swimming in spinach from your garden or an overzealous grocery purchase? (It’s ok. We all have those good intentions to start blending spinach into everything we make from time to time.) Do you love pesto but never have fresh basil on hand? Do you love the idea of pesto, but always find it a little too bitter? Are you looking for something different to put on your pasta? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be entitled to compensation. Kidding! If you answered yes, then I have the perfect recipe for you: Easy Spinach Pesto!

Key Ingredients

  • Fresh spinach. I prefer to use baby spinach when making this pesto but I have used spinach from my garden when it is plentiful. When I say “fresh,” I don’t mean it has to be picked in the last hour or anything. In fact, this pesto recipe is a great way to use up spinach that’s nearing its expiration! I don’t recommend using frozen spinach.
  • Olive oil. Most of the time, we cook with olive oil, and any type works fine. But with pesto, it’s being eaten fresh, and extra virgin olive oil should be used because it has a milder flavor.
  • Lemon juice. Don’t skip the lemon juice in this recipe! It provides the little bit of acid needed to help counteract the natural bitterness of olive oil. If you prefer, you could try using red wine or balsamic vinegar.
  • Salt and pepper. A good amount of salt and pepper makes the delicious flavors pop!
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic cloves, jarred minced garlic, or even garlic powder all work fine. I know because I have used all of them. My preference is jarred garlic because it’s just so darn easy.
  • Parmesan cheese. A hard, salty, aged cheese is needed for pestos. If you don’t like parmesan or you have something else on hand, feel free to make a substitution. To make this dairy-free, simply omit the cheese and add additional nuts.
  • Nuts. I usually use the traditional pine nuts in most of my pestos, but sometimes I don’t have them on hand. In those cases, I reach for cashews, which are always in my cupboard, instead. (They even made it into my picture above!) You can try using walnuts, pecans, almonds, or even sunflower seeds.
  • Sugar. One of the most common complaints about pesto is that it is too bitter. The sugar helps counteract any bitterness (as does the spinach).

Psssst! If you like that squat jar in the above photo (I use those for everything!), you might like this one. It’s pretty similar, although you can also get similar jars at a big box store.

How to Make Easy Spinach Pesto

  • Put spinach, garlic, basil, and a bit of the oil into a food processor and process until finely chopped.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and process it all again until it reaches your desired consistency.
  • I like to add a bit of Parmesan to the finished pesto and stir it in.
  • Add a bit of olive oil to the top of the jar to keep it fresh while storing.
  • Store your finished pesto in the fridge for about 5 days. Spinach pesto can be frozen for several months, as well.
Homemade Spinach Pesto

What can I use Spinach Pesto on?

Sometimes people think that pesto is just for pasta. Sometimes people are wrong! Try this Easy Spinach Pesto on pizza, toast, chips, eggs, or anything else you can think of. It is especially delicious on chicken.

Can I substitute the pine nuts?

Pine nuts are the traditional nut for pesto. They are a little gentler in flavor than other nuts, which makes them perfect for pesto recipes. But they are not nonnegotiable. Personally, I love to use cashews. I’ve also heard of people using walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and even sunflower seeds! Heck, I guess you can use whatever nuts you have on hand and see how you like them.

What if I don’t have a food processor?

If you don’t have a food processor, no problem! You can go old-school and chop, chop, chop like Italian grandmothers did back in the day. It takes some time, BUT it also makes for EVEN. BETTER. PESTO. Most blenders will do the trick, too. A really cool option is to use a mortar and pestle!

Do I have to toast the nuts?

In short, no. You do not have to toast the nuts to make Spinach Pesto. Toasting nuts helps bring out the warm, nutty flavor, but it is optional. Lots of people prefer to use untoasted nuts. Try it both ways and see if it makes a difference to your taste buds.

How do you use pesto on pasta?

Transfer the cooked pasta to a bowl and let it cool just barely until it is warm and not hot but not cold either. Too hot or cold will change the texture of the pesto. Warm is perfect. Then, add the pesto, gently stir the pasta and pesto together, and serve with freshly grated cheese. Just writing this makes my stomach growl.

homemade spinach pesto recipe

How do you store homemade spinach pesto?

Store your spinach pesto in a tightly sealed container with a bit of olive oil on top to keep your pesto from being exposed to air. This helps the pesto stay fresh. You can store it in the fridge for about 5 days or in the freezer for several months. Freezing in individual portions is so convenient! Just put it in the fridge to thaw when you’re ready.

Do you have any pesto recipes without spinach?

I sure do! If you like to stick to traditional flavors, you will want to try my always-loved Basil Pesto. Check out my collard greens and olive pesto recipe for another fun twist.

homemade Spinach Pesto recipe

| 1 cup
Prep Time | 10 minutes
Total Time | 10 minutes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
An easy and delicious homemade pesto featuring spinach instead of basil.


  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons dried basil (You can skip this if you like)!
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup pine nuts, toasted (Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and even sunflower seeds, are all perfect substitutes for pine nuts.)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Check out our Kitchen Reference Guide for help with unfamiliar terms.


  • Put spinach, garlic, basil, and a bit of the oil into a food processor and process until finely chopped.
  • Add remaining ingredients and process again.
  • I like to add a bit of Parmesan to the finished pesto and stir it in.
  • Add a bit of oil to the top of the jar to keep it fresh while storing.
  • Store in fridge.



Calories: 1573kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 32gFat: 155gSaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 2785mgPotassium: 1451mgFiber: 10gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 5895IUVitamin C: 24.6mgCalcium: 623mgIron: 18.5mg

Recipe tester Melanie says…

Would not change a thing! I’m a pesto virgin and can’t believe what I’ve been missing! I make lasagnas each week for families in need and this is going to be a wonderful addition! We made it a pizza night and did “traditional” red sauce, white sauce, and pesto and both of the new additions were a hit!

Other easy sauces to try

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