Simple Walnut Pesto

Use this easy walnut pesto to infuse flavor into your favorite savory dishes!

Simple Walnut Pesto on pasta

Try this delicious Simple Walnut Pesto recipe soon. It’s easy to make and entirely gluten-free. Plus, it’s loaded with healthy ingredients and none of the wonky stabilizers found in store-bought pesto. 

You can use this simple walnut pesto to top polenta, gluten-free pasta, quinoa or make your own gnudi. It’s also fabulous over grilled fish or steak, swirled into mashed potatoes, or to add a kick to soups or stews. I usually keep a container of homemade pesto stashed in the fridge to add a spoonful or two to whatever needs a flavor kick. That’s one of the great things about this recipe – you can store or freeze a good sized portion for dinner, and keep some in a smaller container to cook with.

Why Walnut Pesto?

Why do I use walnuts? Well, they are loaded with Omega-3s and other heart-healthy goodness. Between the basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and walnuts, this pesto sauce is not only delicious, it’s good for you too.

Can you switch it up? Yes!

The recipe is fabulous with pistachios – just swap out the walnuts to make your pesto super-green. This recipe also works really well with pepitas/pumpkin seeds – just make sure you get the plump green ones, not the ones you just pulled out of your jack-o-lantern. If you’d like to cut out the cheese, decrease the oil to 1/2 cup total, and add one more garlic clove. You’ll likely need a little more salt with no cheese too. I sometimes throw in a couple of sweet peppers or a squeeze of lemon to swap up the flavors. Sometimes a add a handful of fresh parsley. Try the base recipe once or twice, then make it your own! 

Pesto Quinoa with Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella recipe

Of course, this pesto is fabulous on pasta, and I use it with homemade pasta often. I also add it to vinegar + oil for salad dressing, top grilled fish or meat, and make this Pesto Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes & Mozzarella too. I hope you love it as much as we do.

When you make this pesto, let me know what you think in the comments or on social media. I’d love to hear what you think!

I usually pour myself a glass of red wine or make a Farmers Market Wine Cocktail to enjoy with my pesto – or even while I’m making it.

fresh simple walnut pesto recipe
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Simple Walnut Pesto

Try this delicious Simple Walnut Pesto recipe from KC the G-Free Foodie. It's easy to make and entirely gluten-free.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pesto, sauce
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 313kcal
Author: K.C. Cornwell


  • Blender


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese


  • Combine the basil, garlic, and walnuts in a food processor or blender and process until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and the cheese, then process until sauce is smooth. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle in the remaining oil while pulsing until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and taste for seasoning: add more salt or pepper if needed. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.



Sauce may be frozen in a sealed, freezer-safe contain for up to 6 weeks.


Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 80mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 487IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 125mg | Iron: 1mg

Photos: Meg van der Kruik

Superfoods? Check. Super food? Also check.

homemade simple walnut pesto sauce on pasta

Frequently Asked Questions about this Walnut Pesto Recipe:

Can I use different nuts in this pesto?

Yes! I often use this same recipe and swap pistachios in for the walnuts. You can use raw or roasted pistachios. Roasted cashews will work as well.

Can I make this recipe dairy free?

Yes. You can omit the cheese and add in another garlic clove or two, and add some lemon juice and a but of lemon zest for a great dairy-free option. If you want a creamy dairy-free pesto, try this cashew-based creamy pesto instead.

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