21 Ways To Make Garden-Fresh Pesto

If your garden is bursting with fresh herbs and vegetables, now is the time to make ALL THE PESTO! Don’t limit yourself to basil pesto. Try mint, parsley, arugula, kale, and even carrot top pesto. It freezes beautifully so you can enjoy your garden bounty all year long.

Three photos of pesto side by side. To the left is sun-dried tomato pesto. In the middle is kale pesto and to the right is a photo of carrot top pesto.

Pesto is a favorite way to use up fresh garden produce. Don’t let the basil and pine nuts fool you; you can make pesto out of almost any fresh green, herb, or nut combination. Try mint and parsley, kale and cashews, or even carrot tops.

Slather pesto on summer sandwiches and burgers, use it as a sauce for pizza, and whip up a quick weeknight pasta dish with pesto as the sauce.

Pesto's rich flavors miraculously transform meals, Might as well call it, “Presto, pesto!” So, let’s see just exactly how many different ways you can make pesto and transform everyday dishes into wondrous adventures!

  • Fresh Basil Pesto

    Basil Pesto Sauce
    Elise Bauer

    This is the most common way of making pesto. Romano cheese adds a robust flavor and adding a little spinach mellows out the basil a little. The recipe includes tips on freezing. It's fantastic in dishes like pesto pasta salad.

  • Kale Pesto

    Kale Lemon Pesto
    Elise Bauer

    If you have some extra kale hanging around, this is a fun and fresh way to use it up! The strong kale flavor is balanced out with some lemon zest and lemon juice for a truly versatile pesto.

  • Carrot Top Pesto

    Pesto made with carrot greens
    Elise Bauer

    If you’re growing carrots in your garden, don’t throw away the carrot tops! You worked so hard to grow them, why not make pesto out of them?

  • Mint Pesto

    Mint and Almond Pesto - jar of mint pesto on white counter
    Sally Vargas

    Mint and parsley are mixed together for a zippy pesto that’s unforgettable. Pro tip: The best way to keep the bright green color that mint and parsley have to offer is to blanch and then shock them in an ice bath!

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  • Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

    Walnut Pesto with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
    Alison Conklin

    This pesto doesn’t necessarily use anything from the garden (unless you’re making your own sun-dried tomatoes), but it definitely needed to be included with the other pesto recipes! It comes together quickly and offers a depth of flavor that can’t be beat.

  • Arugula Pesto

    Arugula Pesto
    Elise Bauer

    Have an abundance of arugula but don’t really want to make a salad? Make pesto by adding a few ingredients to the food processor and giving it a whirl.

  • Cilantro Pesto

    Cilantro Pesto
    Elise Bauer

    Unlike other pesto recipes, cilantro pesto gets its complementary flavors from red onion and serrano chiles. It makes a marvelous addition to tacos or you could add some to cottage cheese and make it a chip dip!

  • Walnut Parsley Pesto

    Walnut Parsley Pesto
    Elise Bauer

    Making pesto is the best way to use up greens, and parsley is no exception. All you need are some walnuts, parsley, Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, and presto! You’ve got yourself some mighty tasty parsley pesto.

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  • Scallion Pesto

    Scallion pesto in white bowl with white spoon

    Alison Bickel  / Simply Recipes

    Add a burst of spring onion flavor to pesto by using scallions along with basil in this incarnation. Lemon juice adds to its spring freshness. It works anywhere traditional basil pesto works, on pasta, as a sandwich spread, or drizzled on eggs.

  • Rotini With Kale and Walnut Pesto

    Kale and Walnut Pesto on Rotini
    Nick Evans | Art Banner Credit: Andy Christensen

    There's kale pesto, there's walnut pesto, and there's kale walnut pesto. Served on pasta, it's bright and fresh and delicious. Of course, pasta is the perfect blank slate for any pesto.

  • Whole Wheat Pasta With Kale Pesto

    whole wheat pasta with kale pesto
    Sally Vargas

    The kale pesto used with this healthy pasta is slightly different from the kale pesto above. Blanched kale removes bitterness, and cashews instead of pine nuts add creaminess.

  • Pesto White Bean Veggie Burgers

    Veggie Burgers with White Beans
    Megan Gordon

    Any pesto would work for this burger, but the one included in this recipe includes yogurt and it's nut-free, so it's perfect for those with nut allergies. The pesto is in the burger to help bind it, and it's a topping for this veggie burger.

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  • Spring Vegetable Tortellini Soup With Pesto

    Tortellini soup with vegetables and pesto
    Katie Morford

    A spoonful of pesto becomes a flavor bomb in this soup that's full of pasta and vegetables like carrots, asparagus, and peas. Any type of pesto will work to add flavor to this soup, even the sun-dried tomato.

  • Pesto Havarti Mac and Cheese

    Easy Pesto Mac and Cheese in a bowl
    Alison Conklin

    Spinach and basil pesto joins mac and cheese made with Havarti. The cheese adds a silky, creamy touch to this comfort food classic. Bonus: the greens add a little nutrition.

  • Zucchini Noodle Chicken Pesto Bowl

    Zucchini Noodle Chicken Pesto Bowl
    Elise Bauer

    Spiralized zucchini drenched in basil pesto and thrown into a bowl with chicken, tomatoes, and more basil. The whole healthy dish comes together in 30 minutes.

  • Three-Cheese Pesto Lasagna

    three cheese lasagna pesto
    Elizabeth Stark

    Fresh herbs and dark, leafy greens turn winter's comfort food into a summer sensation. A basic basil pesto replaces tomato sauce in this lasagna that's full of mushrooms, spinach, kale, and lots of cheese.

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  • Chicken Minestrone With Basil Pesto

    Chicken Minestrone with Basil Pesto
    Sally Vargas

    While the minestrone is simmering, throw together basic pesto, or another favorite pesto. Not only does it look pretty spooned over the soup, but it also adds a deep herbal and cheesy flavor to every bite.

  • Pesto Stuffed Zucchini

    pesto stuffed zucchini
    Elise Bauer

    Here's a creative way to use up big summer zucchinis. Stuffed them with basil pesto, fresh croutons, mozzarella, pine nuts, and cherry tomatoes. It's a perfect summer garden meal.

  • Beef Roulades With Walnut Parsley Pesto

    Beef Roulades with Walnut Parsley Pesto
    Elise Bauer

    Make a special winter meal with by rolling thinly pounded beef with bacon and a pesto of parsley and walnuts. It's roasted and sliced into pinwheels. A great way to make pesto work in the colder months.

  • Asparagus Pesto With Pasta

    Asparagus Pesto with Pasta
    Elise Bauer

    Here's another way to make pesto, with asparagus and spinach. The pesto mingles with fresh pasta that's topped with pine nuts, Parmesan, and a light drizzle of olive oil. A quick vegetarian meal.

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  • Vegetable Shakshuka with Pesto

    Shakshuka with pesto in a skillet
    Sheryl Julian

    Any pesto you have around will work in this Israeli classic of eggs poached in a veggie-laced tomato sauce.