The Best Whole30 Pesto Four Ways

If you’ve been to an upscale pizza place, you’re probably familiar with pesto. It typically contains parmesan cheese, but I’m going to show you how to make this Whole30 Pesto Recipe four ways, none of which use cheese.

What is Pesto?

Pesto is simply Italian for paste. Most people are familiar with pesto from Italian restaurants. It serves as a pizza topping or uncooked pasta sauce. Basil pesto or Pesto Genovese isn’t the only way to make pesto, however. It’s just the most widely known. You can make pesto out of any green or herb and use any nut and it is still pesto.

How to Make Pesto

The easiest way is to use a food processor, but the traditional way is to use a mortar and pestle. For the food processor, follow the steps below. But if you’re wanting to learn a new skill, watch the linked Pasta Grannies video on how to make the absolute most authentic way. All I do is place all the ingredients into the bowl and whiz away.

Ingredients for Pesto

The main ingredients are herbs or greens, nuts (for body), garlic, salt, parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil.

  • 8 cups loosely packed greens (4 cups tightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup nuts (about a handful)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon for basil to prevent browning

How is the Whole30 Pesto Recipe Different

Traditional Pesto Genovese contains basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and extra virgin olive oil. Parmesan cheese is also included after everything else has been blended. For the Whole30 Pesto Recipe, we simply stop before adding the cheese, otherwise the ingredients are authentic.

Whole30 Pesto Recipe Ingredients in Food Processor

How to Make Whole30 Pesto Four Ways

In every season, there is a green that is prolific. While I didn’t include them, you can also use spinach, chard, dandelion greens or arugula. Don’t be afraid to use up the tops of root veggies, too. I’m using radish greens as one of the four ways. But you can also use carrot and beet greens as well.

How to Use Pesto

Traditionally, pesto is served with long noodles like spaghetti along with boiled potatoes and green beans. For those doing Whole30, you can serve it two ways that work. Serve it with roasted chicken shredded and mixed with potatoes and green beans, or you can serve it with very lightly cooked zucchini noodles (AKA zoodles). You can also mix it with ghee or butter to make Pesto Butter and use on grilled meats, poultry or seafood.

The Best Whole30 Pesto Four Ways

If you can tolerate dairy and are not doing a round of Whole30, feel free to stir in 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese after blending.


  • 8 cups greens or herbs without woody stems (lightly packed)

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1/2 cup nuts

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • juice of 1/2 lemon for basil


  • Add everything to food processor in order shown. Pulse to begin breaking up and blending ingredients. Scrape down then gradually add olive oil to make a thick paste. You may not use all olive oil, or you may need to add more depending on texture of greens. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Recipe Video

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