5-Minute Vegan Lemon Kale Pesto (Budget-Friendly)

June 28, 2021
I can’t tell you the amount of times I crave nothing more than some homemade pesto, only to realize how expensive it is to make fresh pesto with pine nuts and fresh basil (unless you grow basil out of your garden).

Given my penchant for pantry-first cooking, my favorite kind of pesto is one made with ingredients that are affordable, accessible, and eco-friendly. Subbing in walnuts for their pricey pine nut counterparts and kale for its cost-prohibitive basil alternative, this flavorful pesto features everyday pantry items for the time-saving chef.

Zesty, creamy, and ever-so pesto-y this savings-focused sauce is the perfect addition to any pasta, patty, or potato dish.
jar of kale lemon pesto on a red table

5-Minute Vegan Lemon Kale Pesto (Budget-Friendly)

Recipe Type: Hearty Entrees
utensils YIELDS 1/2 cup
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 2 packed cups kale
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3–4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
        graphic for recipe card


1. Wash kale and pat dry. Pulse walnuts and kale until chunky.

2. Add nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and lemon zest. Pulse until combined. 

3. Slowly add the olive oil continuously, pulsing until smooth and well-incorporated.

4. Serve on crackers, pasta, or enjoy with a spoon! 

Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!


Photo: Dana Drosdick

Dana Drosdick
Dana is a marketer living in Saratoga Springs, NY with a passion for all things related to stewardship, faith, wellness, and personal enrichment. Her work has been featured in various Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, The Odyssey Online, and The Banner Magazine. Follow her at @danadrosdick on Instagram for foodie trends, her latest book recommendations, and far too many photos of clementines.


always stay inspired!