This quick and easy arugula pesto recipe is bright, peppery and oh-so-delicious. Arugula pesto is fabulous on pasta, crostini and pizza – and anywhere else you can dream up!

When fresh beautiful basil isn’t available, arugula is a great option. Arugula has a peppery bite that really changes the dynamic of this pesto, creating something that feels entirely new!

This fresh pesto takes less than five minutes to make, and you’re going to find a whole host of ways to use it!

A white bowl full of arugula pesto on a white countertop, gold spoon across the top of the bowl.
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We love pesto – all the pesto, all the time! From our traditional basil pesto, to this fun parsley pesto and walnut pesto, it’s easy to switch things up and keep them interesting.

Arugula is a fun addition because it’s available all year long, and it’s often a little more affordable than basil that’s grown in the off season.

While classic pesto is always made with basil and pine nuts, we’re going to show you how to put your own spin on this traditional favorite. It might not be traditional, but it is absolutely delicious, and I think you’re going to love it!

Arugula pesto can be used anywhere you use basil pesto – add it to sandwiches, wraps, pizza, pasta, crostini and more.

A white bowl full of arugula pesto on a white countertop.

Arugula Pesto

Why You’ll Love It

  • Just Six Ingredients – Plus salt and pepper to taste.
  • Two Minutes – Just throw the ingredients into your food processor and pulse.
  • Good For You – Arugula pesto is wholesome in every way! It’s vegetarian and low carb, but packed with flavor.
A white bowl full of arugula pesto on a white countertop, gold spoon across the top of the bowl.

Ingredients and Substitutions

See printable recipe card for complete ingredients and instructions.

  • Arugula – Choose a fresh bundle, packed tightly for measuring.
  • Pine nuts – Generally, these are found in the baking aisle of your grocery store.
  • Minced garlic – Learn more about how to mince garlic here, and learn all about garlic conversions here.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Fresh grated cheese is always best. Learn how to grate cheese here.
  • Lemon Juice – For a bright, fresh citrus flavor.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
Ingredients for an arugula pesto recipe on a white marble countertop.

Variations

  • Walnuts – Sub the nuts in the recipe to make a walnut pesto instead.
  • Parsley – Or, try parsley for a parsley pesto instead of arugula!
  • Eliminate the Pine Nuts – for a Nut Free Pesto.
  • Pesto Rosso – Try adding sun dried tomatoes.
  • Replace the Cheese – To keep it vegan you can substitute parmesan with nutritional yeast, or try this recipe with any of your favorite dry cheeses.

How to Make

  1. Add all ingredients (except olive oil) to a blender or food processor. Ingredients for an arugula pesto recipe inside a food processor.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you blend the other ingredients.
  3. Store in a container with an airtight lid, or follow the tips below to freeze your pesto.
A white bowl full of arugula pesto on a white countertop.

Tips

  • Fresh garlic makes a world of difference in pesto! Learn how to peel garlic here.
  • In this recipe, it’s best to use fresh arugula. To keep it fresh, rinse the leaves with cool water and then pat dry with paper towels. It’s best if used within the first few days!
  • Scaling up, down or substituting? You’ll love this printable Measurement Conversion Chart!
A white bowl full of arugula pesto on a white countertop, gold spoon across the top of the bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is arugula just lettuce?

While it’s generally packaged and stored just like your favorite lettuce and salad bags at the store, arugula is actually a part of the brassica family of cruciferous vegetables that includes broccoli, mustard greens and cabbage.

Is arugula healthy?

Yes! Arugula is packed full of antioxidants and vitamins. It’s such a great green to add to a healthy lifestyle, and it even has more zinc and calcium than kale!

Serving Suggestions

A white bowl full of arugula pesto on a white countertop.

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – This pesto can sit out at room temperature for up to two hours while serving. Then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Refrigerate – Transfer to an airtight container. Adding a layer of olive oil will prevent the oxidation. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Freeze – Pesto freezes well. Freeze this arugula pesto in an ice cube tray and then transfer the individual cubes into a freezer bag. Stores well this way for up to six months.

Defrost the cubes in your fridge overnight, or stir the cubes directly into hot pasta for the easiest sauce.

More Pesto Inspiration

A white bowl full of arugula pesto on a white countertop.
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Arugula Pesto

This quick and easy arugula pesto recipe is bright, peppery and oh-so-delicious. Arugula pesto is delicious on pasta, crostini and pizza – and anywhere else you can dream up!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 4
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Ingredients  

  • 2 cups arugula fresh, tightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic or 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese fresh grated
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions 

  • Add arugula, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, parmesan, salt and pepper to a blender or food processor.
  • Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you blend the other ingredients.
  • Store in a container with an airtight lid, or follow the tips below to freeze your pesto.

Julie’s Tips

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – This pesto can sit out at room temperature for up to two hours while serving. Then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Refrigerate – Transfer to an airtight container. Adding a layer of olive oil will prevent the oxidation. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Freeze – Pesto freezes well. Freeze this arugula pesto in an ice cube tray and then transfer the individual cubes into a freezer bag. Stores well this way for up to six months.
Defrost the cubes in your fridge overnight, or stir the cubes directly into hot pasta for the easiest sauce.
Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 149mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 240IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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