5-Minute Arugula Pesto

Arugula Pesto has peppery kick from the arugula and is flavored with parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon zest & pine nuts. Use this pesto to dress up a sandwich, stir it into hummus or ranch, or toss it with a bowl of freshly cooked pasta.

This pesto veers a bit from the basic basil variety. Although the usual suspects are still there – pine nuts, parmesan, and garlic – this version has a kick from the peppery arugula and lemon zest brightens it up on the back end.

I love the bright green color and its fresh flavor – it just smells like summer. The slight bit of lemon shines through, while that most amazing aroma of freshly picked basil is unforgettable.

The other unforgettable part of this arugula pesto recipe is the fact that it takes all of 5 minutes to make. Just pop all the ingredients into your blender or food processor and give it a good whirl. I like to pulse it instead of giving it a steady blend, so that I can control the texture better. I like mine to be a bit on the thicker side, so that you can still see those flakes of basil and arugula.

And don’t forget to taste for flavoring again at the end. I tend to add in another good pinch of salt at the end and then give it one more quick pulse to combine.

I could eat this arugula pesto on everything – drizzled on some grilled lamb, on top of a caprese salad, or dolloped into a bowl of lentil soup with sausage & kale.

Uses for Arugula Pesto:

  • Use it to dress up a turkey sandwich.
  • Stir it into hummus or ranch for a delicious dip.
  • Drizzle it over some grilled chicken skewers.
  • Toss is with a bowl of freshly cooked pasta, potato gnocchi or zucchini noodles.
  • Combine it with some olive oil and red wine vinegar (or lemon juice) for an amazing salad dressing.
  • Use it as a dip for grilled or roasted vegetables.
Pasta tossed with arugula pesto.

Can you make it ahead of time? 

  • You can make arugula pesto up to three days ahead of time. Pour it into a container and cover it with a thin layer of olive oil. This will prevent browning and help to preserve that bright green color.

Can you freeze pesto?

  • You can freeze it! Just pack it into a mason jar and cover it with a thin layer of olive oil. It will keep in the freezer for up to three months.

If you loved this Arugula Pesto recipe I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of how you served your Arugula Pesto and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.

Wine pairings for Arugula Pesto:

  • Viognier has a great lush texture with mild acidity – It pairs nicely with the bite of the arugula and the richness of the cheese.
  • A ripe, full-bodied Chardonnay will also fit the bill here. It’s creaminess is a great match for the bright flavors in the pesto.
  • MORE —> pesto wine pairings to try.
Bowl of pasta tossed with arugula pesto next to wedge of parmesan and bowl of pesto.

More pesto recipes:

PS – Need a way to preserve that extra basil? Try my method for how to freeze basil.

Arugula pesto in small white bowl with spoon.

Arugula Pesto

Arugula Pesto has peppery kick from the arugula and is flavored with parmesan, garlic, lemon zest and pine nuts. Use this pesto to dress up a sandwich, stir it into hummus or ranch, or toss it with a bowl of pasta! 
5 from 5 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 cups


  • 2 cups packed arugula
  • ¼ cup packed basil
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)


  • Process arugula, basil, oil, parmesan, pine nuts, lemon zest, garlic and salt in a food processor or blender until finely chopped; season with pepper, to taste.
  • Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator covered with a thin layer of olive oil for up to three days, or in the freezer for up to three months. 
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Calories: 452kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 1970mg | Potassium: 254mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1025IU | Vitamin C: 7.8mg | Calcium: 629mg | Iron: 2mg

This recipe was originally published in 2018. It was updated in 2021 with new photographs. The original recipe remains the same. Enjoy!

20 thoughts on “5-Minute Arugula Pesto”

  1. Sounds delicious, we use instead of pine nuts- sunflower seeds( soaked a half hour) and manchego or pecorino to give it ‘the’ special different taste.:-)

  2. 5 stars
    Great tips on using pesto in other recipes!!! This looks incredible and I can’t wait to try it (especially over some grilled steaks this summer!). Yum.

  3. 5 stars
    Erin – my husband just made this (but we added a little basil to it). He served it with beet gnocchi! It was sooo good and you are right, it DOES smell just like summer.


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