Pecan Kale Pesto

pecan kale pesto in a glass bowl

This nutty, citrusy, rich-tasting Pecan Kale Pesto is kale’s best version of itself. Please, don’t even eat another piece of kale until you try it in this pesto.

The recipe is a mishmash of Vivian Howard’s almond pesto from this cookbook (I am crazy about this book – so many southern gems in there) and a pecan pesto I had with veggie ravioli at one of the best restaurants on the OBX – The Saltbox Cafe.

My current favorite use for this pesto is to add cream to it and serve it as a sauce over Pumpkin Gnocchi. But, it’s delicious spread on sandwiches or over roasted veggies as well. It’s sweet and tangy and earthy and delicious. And, a snap to make in your food processor. Please. Make. It. Now🥰

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Pecan Kale Pesto

pecan kale pesto in a glass bowl

Nutty, citrusy, earthy Pecan Kale Pesto makes an amazing pesto cream sauce or is delicious spread on sandwiches!

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 Cups 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: No-cook
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1 C toasted pecans (toast in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees)
  • 2 C kale
  • 2.5 oz of Parmesan, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 a red chile pepper, chopped (use a whole pepper if you like it spicy)
  • zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1 TBS maple syrup


  1. Pulse the pecans, kale, Parmesan, chili pepper, orange zest, salt, and nutmeg in a food processor – about 16 pulses.
  2. Combine the orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, and maple syrup in a measuring cup or a bowl. With the processor running, drizzle in this mixture and let the processor run for a few more seconds until it’s all combined. 
  3. Taste and season with a pinch of salt if needed. 


To make a Pecan Kale Pesto cream sauce, add a scoop of this pesto to a skillet over medium heat and pour in heavy cream, stirring to combine, until you reach your desired consistency.

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