My homemade walnut spinach pesto is always a hit! It’s perfect to use in sandwiches, mixed in with cooked pasta, and it’s delicious on almost anything!

spinach pesto being lifted from glass jar with spoon

Homemade walnut spinach pesto. Every time I make it, I ask myself why I don’t keep this on hand all the time.

It’s perfect to layer in sandwiches – think an Italian Muffuletta sandwich with layers of fresh mozzarella, spinach pesto, and meat or roasted eggplant. It’s also great on its own with freshly cooked pasta and a splash of pasta water. Not kidding you; I could eat spinach pesto pasta every day of the week.

Truth be told, I almost prefer spinach pesto to basil pesto. It’s a more mellow flavor and a great way to fit spinach into your diet. And have you seen that trend going around where you put pesto in a skillet and cook eggs in it? How good would that be with walnut spinach pesto?

spoonful of spinach pesto from jar

Ingredients in spinach pesto:

  • Olive Oil: I prefer to use olive oil for this recipe as I think the flavor works well with the other ingredients but you could also use other oils here too. For my garlic lovers, a garlic infused olive oil would be even more delicious.
  • Nuts: I use walnuts for this recipe. I prefer the flavor of walnuts with spinach and they happen to be heart healthy too. You could also use pine nuts here but they aren’t as economical as walnuts.
  • Garlic: I use 3 small cloves of garlic. Keep in mind the pesto does get a bit more pungent with three cloves as it sits, so if you’re anticipating leftovers or making this in advance for later, I suggest using 2 cloves.
  • Lemons: You’ll need both fresh lemon zest and lemon juice. The zest helps provide a delicious lemon scent and the lemon juice adds a hint of tartness to the pesto.
  • Seasonings: I use a pinch of red pepper flake and kosher salt for this recipe. Feel free to omit the red pepper flakes if you’re preparing this for little ones. We found the pesto wasn’t spicy with this amount of red pepper flakes.
  • Baby Spinach: You’ll want 2 packed cups of spinach for this recipe. Baby spinach tends to produce the best flavor, however, regular spinach will also work. You could also replace some of the spinach with arugula if you want the pesto to have a peppery flavor.
  • Fresh Basil: The basil is optional, but I like to add in a handful to just give the pesto a bit more flavor. There are a few subs you could use if you aren’t a fan, find them below in the FAQs.
images showing the process of making walnut spinach pesto

FAQs about homemade walnut spinach pesto:

How do you keep the pesto from browning if you’re serving this later?

Add a thin layer of olive oil on top of your prepared pesto. This will prevent air from getting into the pesto and keep it from browning. You can pour the oil off (or use it for cooking later!)

How long does prepared pesto last?

The pesto will last for about 3 days if you don’t cover it with a thin layer of oil. Pesto will last for about 5 days if you do cover with oil.

What if you don’t have fresh basil on hand?

If you don’t happen to have basil on hand, feel free to use another packed ¼ cup of spinach or fresh arugula. You could also add in 2 teaspoons of dried basil (along with an additional ¼ cup of greens) if you want it to have that flavor.

pesto being lifted with spoon from glass jar

8 ways to use homemade spinach pesto:

If you like this recipe, you might also like:

spoon of pesto lifting from glass jar surrounded by ingredients
Yield: APPROX. 1 cup

Quick Walnut Spinach Pesto

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

My homemade walnut spinach pesto is always a hit! It’s perfect to use in sandwiches, mixed in with cooked pasta, and it’s delicious on almost anything!

Quick Walnut Spinach Pesto


  • ⅓ cup EACH: olive oil AND walnuts
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano (or parmesan)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups baby spinach, packed
  • ¼ cup basil leaves, packed (see notes)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt


    1. BLEND: In the bowl of a food processor, add the oil, walnuts, cheese, garlic, lemon zest + juice, and red pepper flakes. Run the food processor until the garlic becomes finely minced and the walnuts break down.
    2. SCRAPE: down the bowl. Then, add the baby spinach, basil, and salt. Continue to run the food processor until the leaves break down into a sauce-like texture. Stop the food processor, taste, and adjust with additional salt. If using pesto for a pasta recipe, I suggest holding off on adding additional salt for now. Place the pasta in a jar and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


  • BASIL: if you don’t happen to have basil on hand, feel free to use another packed ¼ cup of spinach and 2 teaspoons of dried basil instead!

Have you made this recipe?

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below. You can also share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #LITTLESPICEJAR, I'd love to see what you made!