parsley pesto in a mason jar on a wood table with a bunch of parsley

Lemon Parsley Pesto

Lemon Parsley Pesto, a tasty garden fresh pesto made with parsley instead of basil and with a zing of fresh citrus from lemon juice and lemon zest. A tasty and flavorful summer sauce!

lemon parsley pesto in a jar with a spoon and parsley in the background

Do you love pesto? Try it with parsley and lemon! Pesto sauce is a versatile sauce typically made with basil, but is delicious with other fresh herbs like parsley. Add a little lemon juice and zest for a tangy herby sauce that’s great for drizzling on vegetables or meats, on pasta, or stirred into soups.

Ready to learn how to make fresh pesto with parsley and lemon? Let’s do it!


🌿 Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for parsley pesto:

  • Parsley: Fresh parsley is the base of this pesto sauce (we do not recommend dried parsley for pesto). Both flat leaf Italian or curly pesto are great options.
  • Cheese: Parmesan and pecorino cheeses are traditionally used in pesto, but you can use a vegan alternative like nutritional yeast…or completely omit cheese altogether if you’d like.
  • Pine nuts: Traditional pesto calls for pine nuts, however you can substitute for other nuts like almonds, pistachios, or walnuts. You can also opt for pumpkin or sunflower seeds for a nut-free pesto alternative.
  • Garlic: Garlic cloves lend flavor and texture to pesto sauce.
  • Lemon: We’re using both lemon juice and lemon zest, however if you don’t have a full lemon you can use just lemon juice from concentrate.
  • Olive oil: Oil is what helps keep the sauce components suspended and blends the flavors. We recommend extra virgin olive oil.
  • Seasoning: Salt and pepper are added for flavor; add as much or as little as desired, but our recommended serving sizes are in the recipe card.
  • Recommended tools: food processor or blender
bunch of homegrown parsley
Homegrown parsley from our garden

πŸ₯£ How to make lemon parsley pesto (step-by-step photos)

1️⃣ Step One: Add all ingredients except olive oil to a blender

Add the parsley, pin nuts, garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper to a blender or food processor.


2️⃣ Step Two: Pulse until mixed and add olive oil

Pulse the blender or food processor 4-5 times to chop the ingredients.

Then slowly add in the olive oil, pulsing periodically until the ingredients are mixed and the sauce is at your desired consistency.

parsley pesto in a mason jar on a wood table with a bunch of parsley

❓ Questions + quick tips

Can I use parsley instead of basil for pesto?

Parsley makes a great pesto if you don’t have basil on hand! Simply replace basil leaves with parsley leaves for an herbal take on traditional pesto.

Is pesto made of parsley?

Pesto is a traditional Italian sauce made with basil, garlic, cheese and olive oil. Sowever, pesto can also be made with parsley- a great option if you don’t have any basil on hand.

What can you do with leftover fresh parsley?

Making pesto is a great way to use leftover fresh parsley. All you need is garlic, cheese and olive oil- which go perfectly on top of pasta for a quick dinner. But if you don’t have basil on hand, try a parsley pesto instead!


🍲 How to serve parsley pesto

Pesto sauce is one of the most versatile kitchen sauces around, here are some ideas for serving parley pesto:

  • Pasta: Mix pesto with cooked pasta and toss to coat.
  • Pizza: Spread over top of pizza before baking.
  • Sandwiches: Use as a spread on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or mustard.
  • Salads: Add chopped fresh parsley to salad greens, along with lemon juice
parsley and lemon pesto
Serve pesto in small giftable jars!

🧊 How to store

Pesto sauce is a great make-ahead recipe that can be refrigerator and frozen. Here are our storage tips for the best tasting pesto every time:

  • Refrigerator storage: Store in an airtight container for up to four days
  • Freezer storage: Store in an airtight container for up to two months. Thaw by removing container from the freezer and place it into the refrigerator 24 hours before serving to completely thaw.

πŸ‘‰ More simple sauce recipes

Try some of our other favorite vegetarian and gluten free sauces:

parsley pesto in a mason jar on a wood table with a bunch of parsley

Lemon Parsley Pesto

Lemon Parsley Pesto, a tasty garden fresh pesto made with parsley instead of basil and with a zing of fresh citrus from lemon juice and lemon zest. A tasty and flavorful summer sauce!
5 from 1 vote
Prep 10 mins
Total 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian-Inspired
Servings 16 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups fresh parsley flat leaf (Italian) or curly
  • β…“ cup pine nuts
  • 3 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 Β½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest grated
  • ΒΌ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper to taste
  • β…“ cup olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Add ingredients to food processor: Add the parsley, pine nuts, garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper to a blender or food processor.
  • Blend and add oil: Pulse the blender or food processor 4-5 times to chop the ingredients.Then slowly add in the olive oil, pulsing periodically until the ingredients are mixed and the sauce is at your desired consistency.
Keywords parsley pesto

UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in June 2019 and was updated in February 2022.

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12 Comments

    1. Your pesto will last about a week in the fridge, or about 6 months in the freezer. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks so much! We find it refreshing and delicious – and it’s easy to make too! Hope you enjoy.

  1. This pesto looks so delicious. Reading the recipe and seeing the photos made me want to eat pasta hahaha! It’s true that parsley is almost always just used for garnish, glad to see it as the main ingredient for once!

    1. Thank you so much, Kathleen! It’s pretty much always a good time for pasta, right?? πŸ˜€ And it’s fun to put parsley front and center sometimes.

    1. Diane, that is such a great idea! Maybe I’ll try that for a future post. Thank you for the inspiration! πŸ˜€