Arugula pesto is a 5-minute pesto recipe made with fresh arugula, Parmesan cheese, walnuts, olive oil, and lemon. It's nutty, zesty, peppery and can be served as a sauce, dip, or spread. Arugula pesto is easy to make any season with always-available arugula.
This scrumptious arugula pesto is one of the first recipes to appear here on The Kitchen Girl blog in 2014 (but I've loved it since college!). 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.
Arugula Pesto Ingredients
* get full printable recipe below
- fresh arugula
- extra virgin olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- water (as needed to adjust consistency)
- fresh lemon juice
How to make arugula pesto
* get full printable recipe below
- Place ingredients into a food processor or blender.
- Pulse or blend ingredients until well-combined.
- Add small amounts of water as needed to adjust consistency. (this is one of my pro tips to use less oil...no one has ever complained).
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 5 days. Boom! So easy!
How is arugula pesto different from basil pesto?
The ingredients are almost identical except basil pesto is made with basil. Also, I always use walnuts instead of pine nuts. You can use either, but I prefer the flavor of walnuts...and you save money! Arugula is peppery and sweet, doesn't brown like basil (esp when you add lemon), and is available any season of the year. Basil is expensive when it’s not basil season…and I need my pesto fix every month of the year!
Another unique pesto recipe
My friend Carol over at From a Chef's Kitchen blog makes a Radish Greens Pesto using fresh radish greens in place of basil. You can make this pesto any time of the year, it's especially perfect for the summer months when the garden is going crazy!
How to serve arugula pesto
- dip for vegetables and crackers
- as crostini or French bread spread
- marinade for chicken, fish, and seafood
- omelet ingredient
- sandwich condiment
- pasta sauce
- pizza topping
Arugula Pesto Storage tips
Refrigerate pesto in an airtight container and enjoyed within 3-5 days. Naturally, the fresher, the better, but I think it’s most optimal on day 2 and day 3.
Can I freeze pesto?
Yes, it freezes nicely! You can do one of two things:
1) Place pesto in ice cube trays, freeze them, pop them out, store in the freezer, and thaw as needed.
2) Store pesto in small containers, freeze and thaw as needed. Storing in smaller containers makes it quicker to thaw.
Does arugula pesto turn brown?
I’ve made this pesto recipe many times and have noticed that, unlike basil pesto, it hardly turns brown. This is mainly because I add lemon to it, which I don't usually do with basil pesto. You can also blanch arugula or basil for pesto if you don't want to use lemon.
- 7 cup food processor (fitted with the chopping/mixing dough blade)
- citrus squeezer
- garlic press
- airtight storage containers
More Arugula Recipes
- Peach Burrata Salad
- Citrus Galore Winter Salad
- Savory Sweet Potato Salad
- Vegetable Quinoa Salad
- Spiralized Beet and Kale Salad
Other easy dips and spreads
- 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.