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 walnut pesto is easy to make any season with always-available arugula.
If you're looking to get more arugula into your diet, but aren't sure how to use it, check out my super easy arugula pesto. Fresh arugula is always available, super affordable, and delicious on everything. I can eat arugula pesto by the spoonful! If I'm being more civilized though, I'll spread it over crostini, or French bread, toss it into pasta or spread over pizza. Use arugula sauce pesto the same way you would use Basil Pesto.
- 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.
The difference between arugula and basil pesto
The key difference between arugula and basil pesto depends on which herb you use, basil or arugula. Otherwise, the recipes are identical. 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 tends to be more bitter and is definitely expensive when it’s not in season. If you want to venture out even more, check out my friend Carol's Radish Greens Pesto.
- dip for vegetables and crackers
- as crostini or French bread spread
- marinade for chicken, fish, and seafood
- as an omelet ingredient
- as a flavor loaded sandwich spread
- combine with any variety of pasta noodles
- dollop or spread arugula pesto on pizza before baking
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 pesto, 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, you can use any size freezer container you like. If you want smaller portions, portion the pesto into ice cube trays, freeze, pop out of the trays, store in the freezer, and thaw as needed. The smaller portions thaw more quickly.
Easy dips and spreads 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
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese, shaved, shredded, or fresh grated
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice, optional, but recommended
- 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
- ¼ tsp Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper to taste
- ¼ cup water, as needed for thinning
- 7 cup food processor (fitted with the chopping/mixing dough blade)
- airtight storage containers
- 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.