Pack your next pasta night (or pizza night) with nutrition using this super simple Spinach Pesto recipe. It’s made without nuts, so it’s budget-friendly and allergy safe—and it stores well in the fridge or freezer for future meals!

spinach-pesto-in-mason-jar

Spinach Pesto

My family adores pasta (like so many families I know), and this Spinach Pesto is one of our go-to sauces. I like it because the color stays bright green, the ingredients are straightforward, and it packs a serious punch of vitamins and iron from the spinach.

This is, hands down, my favorite way to serve up greens to my kids—that us adults enjoy, too.

TIP: Find the rest of my favorite ways to serve greens to kids.

Spinach Pesto Pasta

This recipe makes enough pesto for about 1 pound of cooked pasta, so toss it with your favorite type. It works on any type of pasta you may prefer to use, whether the shape is short or long, made with wheat flour, or a gluten-free option.

Ingredients You Need

To make this easy pesto you’ll need the following ingredients.

ingredients-in-spinach-pesto
  • Spinach: I usually use baby spinach, but you can use any type that you have access to. You’ll want to use fresh spinach, not frozen.
  • Fresh lemon: We’ll add flavor from both the lemon juice and zest.
  • Olive oil: I use extra-virgin olive oil in this recipe for the best flavor.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese: I find that grated Parmesan, as opposed to shredded, has the best flavor, so that it’s my top pick here.
  • Roasted sunflower seeds: I use these in pesto since they are affordable, flavorful, and great for kids with tree nut allergies. You can also use pine nuts or walnuts if you prefer.

TIP: You may want to add a little salt, depending on the saltiness of the cheese.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the super simple process to make this recipe. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the full information.

spinach-pesto-ingredients-in-blender
  1. Gather your ingredients and wash and dry the spinach as needed.
  2. Place all ingredients into the blender or food processor. You can use either to grind this up.
  3. Blend, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl or using the stick that came with the blender.
  4. Use, or store in the fridge in an airtight container or freeze for future use.

TIP: We love this as Spinach Pesto Pasta and on Pesto Pizza.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this Spinach Pesto ahead?

Yes, you can make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days, or place into zip top freezer bags (I like pint size) and seal as you remove as much air as possible. Press flat and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temp before using.

Can I freeze this Spinach Pesto?

Absolutely! We make batches of this whenever we have a lot of spinach and use it for future meals all the time. Place it into zip top freezer bags (I like pint size) and seal as you remove as much air as possible. Press flat and freeze for up to 3 months.

TIP: Storing the pesto flattened in freezer bags allows you to break off smaller pieces of the frozen pesto if you just need a small amount for a recipe or meal.

What recipes is Spinach Pesto good in?

You can use it on pasta like fusilli, as a sauce on pizza (so yummy with mushroom pizza!), with grains like quinoa, to top eggs, or to stir into a vegetable soup or Minestrone to add extra flavor. You can also spread a thin layer onto toast or grilled cheese. You can spread it onto chicken.

Can I make this recipe into kale pesto?

Sure! Just sub in kale, without the stem, or baby kale, for the spinach and follow the rest of the recipe.

Can I add basil to this Spinach Pesto?

You sure can. Simply add in a handful of fresh basil leaves when making the recipe to add a hit of that classic pesto flavor.

blended-spinach-pesto-in-blender

Spinach Pesto Without Nuts

I don’t typically use pine nuts in my pesto because while they do have great flavor, they are often hard to find for those of us who live in smaller towns. And they can be expensive.

Roasted sunflower seeds have a nice flavor, are accessible to everyone, and don’t have the same nut allergy concerns that pine nuts do. Win, win!

TIP: You can use raw sunflower seeds if that’s what you find at your store.

How to Store

You can make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days, or place into zip-top freezer bags (I like pint size) and seal as you remove as much air as possible. Press flat and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temp before using.

Best Tips for Success

  • Use a blender or food processor depending on what you have and what you prefer to use.
  • Blend the mixture well so there are no noticeable chunks of any one ingredient.
  • Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure the mixture is evenly blended.
  • Taste and add a little salt if needed.
  • Use on Spinach Pesto Pasta, Pesto Pizza, grain bowls, eggs, in soup, or spread on toast.
  • Substitute baby kale for the spinach to make kale pesto.

Related Recipes


I’d love to hear your feedback if you make this recipe so please comment below!

spinach pesto in jar

Easy Spinach Pesto

Try this healthy pesto with your favorite pasta or in place of pizza sauce on pizza!
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Cuisine Italian
Course Sauce
Calories 162kcal
Servings 8 (Makes about 1 cup)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups lightly packed baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
  • salt (to taste)

Instructions

  • Add the spinach, olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan, and seeds to a blender.
  • Blend very well until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl or using the stick that came with the blender as needed. You can also do this in a food processor.
  • Season to taste with salt if needed.
  • Use with a pound of pasta, as a topping for pizza, or however you like!

Notes

  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in a zip-top freezer bag, with as much air removed as possible, for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature to use.
  • Use a blender or food processor depending on what you have and what you prefer to use.
  • Blend the mixture well so there are no noticeable chunks of any ingredient.
  • Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure the mixture is evenly blended.
  • Taste and add a little salt if needed.
  • Use on Spinach Pesto Pasta, Pesto Pizza, grain bowls, eggs, in soup, or spread on toast.
  • Substitute baby kale for the spinach to make kale pesto.
  • You may also like my Broccoli Pesto, my Pesto Pasta Salad, Pesto Pizza Rolls, and this handy tip for Freezing Greens.

Nutrition

Calories: 162kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 170mg, Potassium: 140mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 1462IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 92mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published June 2019.

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Comments

  1. If using pine nuts, how much should we use? And do they need to be toasted/roasted before putting them in?

    1. I would use 1/4 cup and yes, I’d toast them lightly in a skillet before adding if you want them to have extra flavor. (You don’t have to.)

  2. Would you recommend this recipe for an infant? Wonder if it’s too much sodium from the Parmesan.

    1. I think it is fine for a baby eating solids in small amounts served occasionally. (Which would mean a serving a few times a month, which is how anyone is likely to eat it normally.)

  3. 5 stars
    This is such an awesome pesto recipe. We eat it all the time- use kale instead of spinach. To make vegan, I use the vegan parm recipe from “the minimalist baker”…it has an excellent flavor and some similarity to the taste of dairy parm. We also add fresh basil. About to make a triple batch for the freezer! Thanks for such a great recipe.

  4. Hi Amy, do you have any suggestions for a dairy free alternative to the parmesan cheese? I was thinking of leaving it out all together but would that alter the consistency I wonder… thanks 🙂

    1. I know some people use nutritional yeast for a similar sort of flavor, but I haven’t tested that. I think you’d want to use a little less though.

  5. 4 stars
    Im not sure what pesto is supposed to taste like, i havent really eaten it growing up but i wanted to try to make it for my toddler. I made this to be used in the base for your pesto salad recipe and i subbed parmesan with nutruitional yeast. It tasted ok but better once mixed with the salad ingredients. I would probably try again with parmesan. Also next time i will add the liquids in the blender first bcus i had a tough time blending.

  6. I followed the recipe but using pine nuts. Unfortunately the pesto turned out very bitter! I tried to fix it but couldnt, boo.

    1. I think fresh would likely taste best but I haven’t ever tried it with frozen so maybe I’m wrong!

    1. I think it would change the flavor noticeably so I would recommend using the seeds or another nut like walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts.