Basil Arugula Pesto Sauce (Easy 5-Minute Recipe)

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.

Pasta tossed with arugula pesto.

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.

Ingredients for arugula pesto in food processor.

🛒 Ingredients Needed

  • Arugula – This peppery green gives a delightful kick to this pesto. Find it in the produce section near the packaged salad mixes.
  • Basil – Fresh is best here. If you have extra, here’s a great tip on how to freeze basil.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Parmesan – For a dairy-free or vegan arugula pesto, you can swap in nutritional yeast.
  • Pine Nuts – Or another favorite nut. Walnuts, pistachios, almonds and cashews are also delicious. Or, for a nut-free pesto use pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.
  • Lemon Zest
  • Garlic
  • Salt + Pepper

📋 How to Make It

  • Process the arugula, basil, oil, parmesan, pine nuts, lemon zest, garlic and salt in a food processor or blender until finely chopped.
  • Season with salt and 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. 

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.

✔️ What to Do with 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 pesto salad dressing.
  • Use it as a pizza sauce.
  • Use it as a dip for grilled or roasted vegetables.
  • More → 30+ Ways to Use Pesto!

🕕 How to Make Ahead And Store

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

How to Freeze

  • 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. Or, you can freeze leftovers in an ice cube tray, then pack them into a ziploc bag.

ℹ️ Recipe FAQs

Why is my arugula pesto bitter?

Pesto can turn bitter if it is processed too much in the food processor. This is because of a reaction that occurs with the olive oil. To prevent bitterness, only pulse and process the pesto until it just comes together.

What do I do with a lot of arugula?

If you’re lucky enough to have a lot of arugula on your hands, make this pesto! It freezes extremely well for up to three months.

Can I replace basil with spinach?

In a pinch, you can definitely replace the basil in this recipe with spinach. It won’t have the traditional pesto flavor, but it will still be delicious!

Bowl of pasta tossed with arugula pesto next to wedge of parmesan and bowl of pesto.

🍷 Wine Pairings

  • 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.

🌿 More Pesto Recipes

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

Did you try this arugula pesto recipe?

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

For more great Platings and Pairings recipes, be sure to follow me on  InstagramTikTokPinterest and Facebook.

Looking for more ways to use arugula? Check out these 35+ tasty arugula recipes too!

Arugula pesto in small white bowl with spoon.

Arugula Pesto Recipe

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 8 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients

Instructions

  • 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!

Nutrition

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 post was originally published in 2018. It was updated in 2023 with new information. The original arugula pesto recipe remains the same. Enjoy!

20 thoughts on “Basil Arugula Pesto Sauce (Easy 5-Minute Recipe)”

  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.:-)

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.