Arugula pesto is a 5-minute pesto recipe that's nutty and peppery with bright and savory flavors. Spread over bread or use as a sauce for pizza or spaghetti squash noodles. Arugula pesto is easy to make any season with always-available arugula.
If you don't know what to do with arugula and you have plenty of it, make arugula pesto. It’s fresh, easy, affordable, and delicious on everything. I can eat it by the spoonful! If I'm being more civilized though, I'll spread it over crostini, or French bread, or tossed with tortellini pasta salad.
- fresh arugula - the star of the show. I prefer baby arugula, but mature will work too.
- extra virgin olive oil - I would not substitute any other oil for this because it will impact the flavor.
- Parmesan cheese - I like to use Parmigiano Reggiano for this pesto recipe.
- walnuts - Arugula walnut pesto is an affordable alternative to pesto made with pine nuts.
- water - You may need water to adjust consistency instead of using oil.
- fresh lemon juice - Avoid packaged lemon juice, if possible.
How is arugula pesto different from basil pesto?
The key difference between basil pesto and arugula pesto is which herb you use, basil or arugula. I love arugula because it's both peppery and sweet, and is available and affordable any season of the year in the grocery stores. Basil is usually rather bitter, and is definitely expensive when it’s not in season. You can even use radish greens to make this delicious Radish Greens Pesto.
- dip for vegetables and crackers
- as crostini or French bread spread
- marinade for chicken, fish, and seafood
- omelet ingredient
- sandwich spread
- pasta sauce
- pizza topping
Does arugula pesto turn brown?
I’ve made this pesto recipe many times and have noticed that, unlike basil pesto, it rarely turns brown. It could be because of the added lemon, which I don't usually add to basil pesto. I've found that arugula simply doesn't need to be blanched like basil does to avoid browning.
- When blending, add small amounts of water instead of oil to adjust consistency as needed.
- To store, arugula pesto can be refrigerated in an airtight container and enjoyed within 3-5 days. I personally love how the flavor deepens by day 2 and 3.
- To freeze pesto, scoop it into ice cube trays, freeze, pop out of the trays, store in the freezer, and thaw as needed. Storing in smaller containers makes it quicker to thaw.
- 7 cup food processor (fitted with the chopping/mixing dough blade)
- citrus squeezer
- garlic press
- airtight storage containers
More recipes using arugula
- Peach Burrata Salad
- Citrus Galore Winter Salad
- Savory Sweet Potato Salad
- Vegetable Quinoa Salad
- Spiralized Beet and Kale Salad
Easy dips you'll love
- 5 Minute French Onion Dip
- Loaded Black Bean Dip
- Herb and Artichoke White Bean Dip
- Creamy Avocado Ranch Dressing and Dip
- Smoked Salmon Dip with Greek Yogurt
Arugula Pesto Recipe
- 4 cups Arugula, same as 3.5 oz
- 1 cup Walnuts
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice, optional, but recommended
- 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup water, as needed for thinning
- Place ARUGULA, CHEESE, WALNUTS, OLIVE OIL, LEMON, GARLIC, SALT, and PEPPER in a food processor fitted with the dough/chopping blade attachment.
- Pulse or blend until all ingredients are well-combined.
- Add water in small amounts to adjust consistency.
- Store in airtight containers up to five days in the refrigerator and up to 90 days in the freezer.
Nutrition data provided as courtesy estimates using unbranded ingredients from a nutrition database. Please consult preferred resource for precise data.