Easy Spinach Pesto Recipe
This flavorful spinach pesto is simple to make with budget-friendly ingredients, and it packs spinach into your kids’ meals in a picky-eater friendly way! Try this pesto on whole wheat pasta, chicken, or sandwiches.
Pesto is tasty and nutritious, and there are lots of variations to try beyond traditional basil pesto! Spinach makes a mild, delicious base for pesto that appeals to kids and is budget-friendly, too.
Why We Love Spinach Pesto
- It’s super nutritious! Spinach is rich in iron and vitamins that kids need to grow and thrive.
- It tastes mild. Spinach pesto is flavorful without being overpowering, so kids are more likely to say “yum!” when they try it.
- It’s budget-friendly. This pesto uses spinach in place of basil, and walnuts in place of pine nuts, so it’s an affordable addition to your regular meal rotation.
- It stays green. Spinach pesto doesn’t oxidize and turn brown as quickly as basil pesto, so you can enjoy bright, fresh-looking pesto for days.
How to Make Spinach Pesto
This delicious spread is simple to make in just minutes with your food processor. Just add all the ingredients to your processor and process until smooth!
If you like a coarsely-ground pesto, process the pesto for a shorter amount of time. If you prefer a finer consistency to your pesto, just keep pureeing until you get to the consistency you like.
We recommend waiting until your pesto is made before adding salt. Parmesan cheese is quite salty on its own, so you may not need much!
Ideas for Using Spinach Pesto
Use your pesto to add flavor to all kinds of dishes!
- Make “Green Goblin Pasta” with a spoonful of pesto stirred in, and extra Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
- Spread pesto on grilled chicken or pork for a pop of flavor.
- Use pesto as a sandwich spread.
- Add a spoonful of pesto to soups for added taste and vitamins.
More Fresh Spinach Recipes to Try
Sweet Spinach Muffins
Sweet Spinach Pancakes
Cheesy One Pot Chicken and Rice with Spinach
- 3 cups fresh spinach packed
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients except salt and pepper in a food processor a process until the pesto reaches your desired consistency.
- Taste the pesto and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately!
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie
I was looking for a good pesto recipe. I will be printing this for future use. Thanks
I have been battling my daughter to eat some more spinach for years. She loves parmesan cheese, so this just might do the trick!
Made this for dinner and both of my toddlers loved it!
I love this one too!! Glad your kids ate it!
My son has low iron and the doctor recommended I feed him spinach, not eating spinach myself I went on a search for recipes. I found this recipe on Pinterest and it was a HIT! I ate it, my 2 year old (who is the one low on iron) ate it and even my VERY picky 4 year old devoured it after convincing him to just try it! Thank you for this recipe!
Terrific Kim! I’m so glad he liked it!!
Any suggestions on what to use instead of walnuts? We have severe nut allergies here?
Just made this for lunch! I substituted a little garlic salt for extra flavor. My daughter and I just loved it- I think I’ll do this with speghetti noodles next time.. At 14 months and 6 teeth the curly noodles didnt soften as much as I would have liked… Despite boiling them forever! Great way to get spinache into her diet!
Do you know how long it will last in the fridge?
Do you know how long it will last in the fridge?
I would only keep it in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Could I use pine nuts instead?
Absolutely! I would too, except they are so expensive here!
Can I use grated parmesan cheese rather than shredded?
Yes you could!
Could we leave out the walnuts? We are a nut free household!
Do you know if it matters whether I use regular spinach or baby spinach?
I’m also wondering if this would taste alright leaving the nuts out? Daycare is nut-free. thanks!
Either spinach is fine @Jamie-
@jenilee and @deborah- you could leave the nuts out, but then it wouldn’t really be pesto.
Also could what could you use to substitute the parm cheese? My daughter is allergic to dairy 🙁 She LOVES pesto (before the allergy) and I’m struggling to find an alternative!
Scratch that- someone on facebook just mentioned they use sunflower seeds in place of nuts! HOpe that helps #jenilee and @deborah
But from what i have read we should avoid diary ( cheese) when we want to have good absorption of iron. So isn’ t the parmesan counterbalancing the iron in spinach?
Georgia, while iron absorption is decreased when consuming spinach with cheese, it is also enhanced by the vitamin C of the spinach. However, healthy kids who eat a varied diet, the amount of iron inhibition is usually not of concern.
Also, many healthy foods contain iron absorption inhibitors.No need to cut these foods out of your child’s diet. Iron absorption in healthy individuals will still happen.
Can I use pistachio instead of walnuts?
Maybe you could use seeds instead?
To” hide” spinach, kale or any green vegetable, use beets, you don’t need to cook it or peel it. Just wash it good and add to your mix. I use a Vitamix which I very powerful. Cut only the size of the tip of your thumb. Your smoothie would turn red. Used spinach liquefied in a potato puré and you will get green mash potato.
And perhaps Pumpkin seeds as they are high in iron too?
Yummy looking recipe, I’m making this tonight!
I tried this for a quick lunch to energize my daughter before swim class…..I added grilled chicken breast and chopped up broccoli, and she loved it! THANKS
Wrong wrong wrong it suppose to be half a plate of vegetables !! The food group is vegetables and fruit. Give more vegetables fruit has sugar in it.
Know more before you post
Is the leftover pesto freezable?
Would this pack well for a school lunch or should it be kept chilled?
Have you tried freezing the pesto? I love freezer meals!!
We send it to school without an ice pack! My kids haven’t complained! 🙂 @Cassi
I understand you can freeze pesto @heather- but I haven’t tried it. We usually eat it all!
Can I use frozen spinach instead? And how,much of it?
Can i use frozen spinach instead of fresh? And how much would it be?
You can Maggie- It’s up to you how spinachy you want it, but you would need a lot less.
I used Nutritional Yeast instead of cheese and it was great
How many servings of pasta would I cook for this recipe?
I would use 4 ounces of pasta Sami!
My son is allergic to ealnuts & pecans. Could I use pine nuts instead?
I meant walnuts
Hi Katie- I haven’t tried it with walnuts. If you do, let me know. I imagine it would still be good!
Another momma asked but didn’t get an answer, we have a dairy allergy, what would be a good sub for the cheese? 🙂 ty
I read somewhere that spinach has less bioavailability when eaten raw…
OMG, this was delicious. My son could not get enough of it and kept saying this is the ‘best pesto ever’. Thanks again for this amazing blog. Love love your recipes
I thought I read somewhere that dairy from the cheese, and walnuts block iron absorption…