Vegan Kale Pesto

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Kale Pesto Made With Sunflower Seeds to Stay on Budget

I would love to shake the hand of the first person to mix leafy greens, garlic, olive oil, and seeds or nuts to make pesto.

Pesto simply makes everything taste better.

Do you want to fancy up roasted root vegetables or potatoes? Top a pizza? Add flavor to a sandwich?

Add pesto. More importantly, add this vegan kale pesto recipe.

Traditionally, pesto has cheese and nuts in it. But, this kale pesto recipe is the perfect vegan, dairy free, and nut free condiment. Nuttiness and saltiness are added from the sunflower seeds and additional salt. Red wine vinegar balances out some bitterness from the kale.

And one more thing about this kale pesto recipe: it is cheap to make. The ingredients for this budget vegan sauce are affordable and can easily be found at your grocery store.

Start making everything taste better with this vegan kale pesto recipe!

How Long Will This Kale Pesto Keep?

This vegan kale pesto will last covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. Add a few drizzles of olive oil to the top of the pesto after each use. This will minimize browning of the kale.

This also freezes very well. Store in a jar, resealable container, or freezer bag.

Another popular option is to spoon the pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. After frozen, remove the servings from the tray and place in a freezer bag or container. When ready to use, defrost or place directly into a hot pan or bowl.

Vegan Kale Pesto Ingredients

How Can I Use This Kale Pesto for Meal Prep?

Remember, pesto makes everything better. Add to roasted vegetables, potatoes, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, warm grains, and so much more!

Isn’t Pesto Made With Basil, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts?

Pesto originated in Genoa, Italy. This is an area that is home to some of the best basil, pine nuts, and extra virgin olive oil in the world.

Traditionally, pesto was made of these three ingredients, garlic, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. If you ever travel to Italy, specifically near Genoa or the Ligurian coast, you must eat pesto.

But, there are plenty of perfectly respectable substitutions for these world-class ingredients. The benefit of this vegan kale pesto recipe is that the ingredients are affordable and can be easily found at your grocery stores.

  • Kale = leafy green to replace basil

  • Sunflower seeds = replaces the nuttiness of Parmesan and pine nuts

  • Red wine vinegar = softens some bitterness from the kale

  • Salt = replaces the saltiness of Parmesan

Vegan Kale Pesto Spoonful

Do I Really Need a Food Processor to Make this?

Well, using a food processor is the easiest option when making pesto. Just prep your ingredients, toss them in the food processor, and blend. It will generate a consistent sauce and give you easy control over its thickness.

A food processor is one of the few kitchen appliances I actually have. It is very handy to have around. Hummus, salsas, cauliflower rice, falafel, some types of dough, and a ton of other all-purpose sauces would be a chore without one.

I use this 8-cup one. It’s a kitchen workhorse and a great size for a small household. If you are cooking bigger batches, this higher end 14-cup one is the gold standard in home kitchen food processors.

What If I Don’t Have a Food Processor?

Did you know that traditionally, pesto is made with a mortar and pestle? If you have a set like this one then use it.

If you don’t have a food processor or mortar and pestle, you can still definitely make this. I typically don’t use either when making pesto at home.

Here’s how:

Crush up the sunflower seeds with the back of a wooden spoon, muddler, bottom of a heavy pan or chop up with a knife. Finely chop the kale. Mince the garlic. Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix together.

Vegan Kale Pesto

Nick @ walktoeat
Do you want a budget vegan condiment that makes everything taste better? Then try this 5 minute vegan kale pesto recipe for a cheap and healthy sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 136 kcal


  • 3 cups kale, leaves only
  • 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (or juice from 1/2 a lemon)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (use 1/2 cup if you want a thinner pesto)


  • Add sunflower seeds, garlic, kale and salt to a food processor. Process until ingredients are finely chopped, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the vinegar. Pulse a few times to mix. Add 1/3 cup olive oil and process for 5-10 seconds until combined. At this point, if you want a thinner pesto, add more olive oil 1 Tbsp. at a time and pulse a few times after each addition to combine.


Calories: 136kcalFat: 13.4g
Keyword pesto, kale pesto, vegan condiment, vegan pesto, vegan, budget recipe, cheap recipe, vegan sauce, vegan recipe
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