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!
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!
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
🥣 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.
❓ Questions + quick tips
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.
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.
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
🧊 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.
👉 More simple sauce recipes
Try some of our other favorite vegetarian and gluten free sauces:
Lemon Parsley Pesto
- 2 cups fresh parsley flat leaf (Italian) or curly
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- 3 whole garlic cloves
- 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest grated
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 pinch black pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 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.
UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in June 2019 and was updated in February 2022.