This parsley pesto sauce is packed with vibrant flavor and pairs perfectly with your favorite pasta, sandwiches, grain bowls, or more. It’s a versatile and easy recipe that takes just a few minutes to prepare.

small bowl of parsley pesto on a grey backdrop with pine nuts and parsley leaves scattered around

As a Registered Dietitian, one of my favorite ways to make healthy foods taste amazing is by adding homemade sauces or dressings. While it’s traditional to make pesto sauce with basil, did you know you can actually use other fresh herbs to make it? Fresh parsley is actually a great substitute for basil in pesto, with a similar flavor profile you can use on Italian or Mediterranean inspired dishes.

Whether you can’t find basil at the store or just have a bunch of leftover parsley, I encourage you to use parsley to make this easy parsley pesto recipe! You’ll need a food processor to make it, and it comes together in just a few minutes. It makes enough pesto for one pound of pasta, or you can use it as a spread on sandwiches, or as a topping on fish or grilled vegetables!

Try my green sauce for pasta as a delicious alternative to pesto – it uses up an entire bag of spinach!

Ingredients in parsley pesto sauce

Here is everything you need to make this pesto recipe:

  • Parsley – you can use curly parsley or flat leaf parsley
  • Baby spinach
  • Pine nuts
  • Shredded parmesan cheese
  • Lemon
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Ingredient and dietary restriction substitution suggestions

  • Walnuts or almonds are a good substitute for pine nuts in pesto.
  • Make it vegan and dairy free by using 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan cheese.
  • Make it nut free by using hemp seeds in place of pine nuts.
  • Spinach is optional, but it adds a boost of nutrition and you really cannot taste it.
Parsley pesto ingredients measured out on a white backdrop

How to make pesto sauce

Making pesto sauce is super easy! You just need a food processor to mix it all up.

  1. To a food processor fitted with an S blade, add the parsley, spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan cheese, and salt.
  2. Pulse the food processor 5-10 times so all the ingredients get combined but still maintain some texture.
  3. With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until just combined.
  4. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides at any point so everything is evenly blended.

What to do with pesto

Pesto is so much more versatile than just a sauce for pasta! In addition to pasta, you can add pesto to so many foods. Try it on:

Storing pesto sauce

You can store any leftover pesto sauce in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to one week.

Additionally, you can freeze pesto: Spoon pesto sauce into an ice cube tray. Freeze the ice cube tray for 3-4 hours, or until the pesto is frozen solid. Pop the frozen pesto out of the tray and put them in a tightly sealed baggie. Frozen pesto will keep well for 3-6 months.

Bowl of spaghetti with parsley pesto, topped with chopped parsley with a silver fork

Is pesto healthy?

While pesto is definitely an energy dense food, it is made with nutritious ingredients. The main ingredients in this pesto (parsley, spinach, pine nuts, and olive oil) all provide nutrition benefits!

  • Parsley and other fresh herbs are rich in antioxidants, including Vitamin C, which help fight inflammation and keep our cells healthy. One cup of parsley provides 2 grams of dietary fiber.
  • Spinach is packed with micronutrients, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, and iron.
  • Pine nuts are rich in heart healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. One ounce of pine nuts provides 4 grams of plant-based protein and is high in iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K.
  • Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils to cook with and enjoy. A majority of the fat in olive oil comes from heart healthy omega-3 monounsaturated fatty acids. This type of fat is essential to our diet and provides anti-inflammatory benefits.

Let me know if you love this recipe by leaving a comment or star rating below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration. Thanks for stopping by!

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small bowl of parsley pesto on a grey backdrop with pine nuts and parsley leaves scattered around

Parsley Pesto Sauce Recipe

  • Author: Alex Aldeborgh
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: About 1 cup 1x
  • Category: sauces and dressings
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This parsley pesto sauce is packed with vibrant flavor and pairs perfectly with your favorite pasta, sandwiches, grain bowls, or more. It’s a versatile and easy recipe that takes just a few minutes to prepare.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 packed cups parsley
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup raw pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients, except the olive oil, to the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade.
  2. Pulse the food processor 5-10 times, or until the ingredients are well combined but some texture remains. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides if needed.
  3. With the food processor running, pour in the olive oil. Be careful not to overblend – you still want some texture to the pesto.
  4. Scoop out of the food processor and enjoy however you like to use pesto!

Notes

Ingredient and dietary restriction substitution suggestions

  • Walnuts or almonds are a good substitute for pine nuts in pesto.
  • Make it vegan and dairy free by using 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan cheese.
  • Make it nut free by using hemp seeds in place of pine nuts.
  • Spinach is optional, but it adds a boost of nutrition and you really cannot taste it.

Storing pesto sauce

You can store any leftover pesto sauce in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to one week.

Additionally, you can freeze pesto: Spoon pesto sauce into an ice cube tray. Freeze the ice cube tray for 3-4 hours, or until the pesto is frozen solid. Pop the frozen pesto out of the tray and put them in a tightly sealed baggie. Frozen pesto will keep well for 3-6 months.

Keywords: parsley pesto recipe, parsley pesto, substitute for basil in pesto, what to do with pesto