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Arugula pesto in a white bowl.

Arugula Pesto

  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 1 min
  • Total Time: 6 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 1.5 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: Italian


Easy homemade arugula pesto recipe ready in five minutes with walnuts, parmesan, and lemon. Perfect on pasta, chicken, salad, and more!


  • 4 packed cups fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (you likely won’t need it all)


  1. Add the arugula, walnuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and salt to the bowl of a food processor (you can also use a blender). Pulse 5-10 times, until the mixture is evenly chopped and has formed a rough paste.
  2. Turn the food processor off and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spoon or spatula.
  3. With the food processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil until the pesto has reached your desired consistency. You likely won’t need all of the oil here – we tend to use about 1/3 of a cup – so add it a little at a time and keep an eye on the pesto while it blends. You may want to scrape down the sides of the food processor again to make sure all the ingredients are smoothly blended into the pesto.
  4. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.


How to serve: Toss this arugula pesto with pasta or salads, brush it over grilled fish or salmon, add a scoop to your favorite sauces, or drizzle over roasted vegetables.

Use high quality ingredients! Use real parmigiano reggiano cheese and a good quality olive oil here – great ingredients make all the difference with such a simple recipe!

Consistency: The exact amount of olive oil used will vary based on your ingredients, equipment, and personal preference. If you want a thinner pesto, stream in a bit more olive oil!

Freezing & Storing: This pesto will keep up to a week in the fridge and 3-4 months in the freezer. For more about freezing and storage, refer to the post above!

Vegetarian & Vegan Options: Strict vegetarians should look for parmesan cheese made without rennet or omit the cheese entirely. To make this recipe vegan, omit the parmesan cheese and reduce the amount of olive oil used. Add a teaspoon or two of nutritional yeast if you want to mimic the flavor of parmesan without using real cheese.

Substitutions & Adjustments: Use pine nuts, pistachios, or almonds in place of the walnuts. Add a handful of fresh basil or parsley for an extra layer of flavor. The acidity here will vary based on the lemon juice you use. Lemon juice can vary widely between bottled varieties and even between fresh lemons. If you’d like a brighter flavor after you taste the pesto, add more lemon juice. This is a VERY forgiving recipe, so don’t be afraid to taste and make adjustments as you go!

Equipment: If you have an especially large food processor, you may want to double this recipe to ensure everything is chopped evenly. One of our testers used a 14-cup Cuisinart food processor with no trouble, but one tester with a large Ninja food processor found this pesto worked better for her with a smaller food processor or blender.

This post was originally published in 2012. It has been updated for ease and clarity.

Keywords: frozen, keep, serve, bitter, homemade, walnuts, pasta, summer