Pumpkin Pesto Pasta

5 from 31 votes

This Pumpkin Seed Pesto is a magical green sauce that's fresh, zesty and flavorful. The best sauce for your pasta, pizza or anything Italian!

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This Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta proves that pesto doesn’t just have to be a summer thing. Instead of using pine nuts like in a traditional pesto recipe, try using pumpkin seeds. And try swapping most or all the basil for leafy greens like kale!

This Pumpkin Seed Pesto on some pasta in a bowl
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Ingredients to make pumpkin seed pesto

  • Kale: Kale is a great nutrient dense food rich in vitamins A, K, B6 and calcium that subs in for some of the basil.
  • Basil: Use fresh basil for that unmistakable pesto flavor.
  • Pumpkin seeds: Use roasted and unsalted pumpkin seeds for this nut-free pesto
  • Parmesan cheese: It’s best to use freshly grated parmesan as it’s richer in flavor and less dry. You can use pre-grated for convenience.
  • Garlic: Use freshly garlic for the best flavor.
  • Lemon juice: Use freshly squeezed juice rather than bottled.
  • Salt and pepper: For seasoning.
  • Oil: Use a good quality olive oil, and extra virgin if you can, and drizzle it in to emulsify the pesto.
Ingredients to make the recipe all on a white board

How to make pumpkin seed pesto

If you’ve never made a pesto at home before, you’re going to love the taste of this fresh homemade recipe. My basic pesto recipe has more classic ingredients, which include basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese. But this version is nut-free and made with kale for added nutrients.

Add all the ingredients except for the olive oil to a food processor or blender. While the motor is running, drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify the dressing.

Two image collage of ingredients in blender before and after blending

Pesto pronto….you’ve got a bright green garlicky flavor bomb sauce ready to top your favorite pasta. I recommend tossing it with warm pasta immediately so that it clings to the pasta more easily.

Two image collage of pasta with sauce on top before and after mixing

Tips to make pumpkin pesto

  1. Add more olive oil to remedy any dry pesto. Make sure to do this while the food processor is running to allow the olive oil to emulsify and create a looser texture. Just blend until you reach your desired consistency.
  2. Thin out pesto with pasta water if you’re using it as a sauce. I usually keep my pesto thicker so that it’s more versatile as a spread. But when adding to pasta, the starchy pasta water is a great way to thin out the pesto sauce.
  3. Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays. The frozen ice cubes can be added directly stirred into pasta and you can easily use just what you need this way.
Close up of pumpkin seed pesto sauce in a bowl with spoon inside

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it keep?

Transfer your pumpkin pesto to and airtight jar and it will keep well in the fridge for up to a week. Tp keep it fresh, pour a little oil on top of the pesto to stop it from oxidizing.

How long can you freeze pesto?

Pesto will keep frozen for up to 6 months. It can be defrosted overnight in the fridge to use.

What’s the best pasta to serve with pumpkin pesto?

Pesto is a really versatile pasta sauce, and can be stirred into long pasta like spaghetti or linguini or short shaped pasta like penne or farfalle. The pesto is gluten-free so it’s great to use with a GF pasta like corn, red lentil or chickpea.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta in a white bowl wit a fork

For more pasta dishes:

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Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta

This Pumpkin Seed Pesto is a magical green sauce that's fresh, zesty and flavorful. The best sauce for your pasta, pizza or anything Italian!
5 from 31 votes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 260
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
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  • 2 cups kale destemmed and torn into pieces
  • ½ cup basil
  • cup pumpkin seeds roasted
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • cup olive oil
  • 16 ounces pasta of choice for serving


  • In the bowl of your food processor, place the pumpkin seeds, kale, basil, parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined and thoroughly blended.
  • With the processor still on, slowly pour the olive oil and blend until everything comes together well.
  • Toss the cooked pasta of choice with the pesto. Sprinkle extra parmesan cheese and enjoy!


Freezing Instructions: You can also freeze any unused pesto in a plastic bag, glass container, ice cube trays or plastic container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and use as you normally would
Make Ahead Tips: You can make the pesto sauce up to a week in advance and store in the fridge until you’re ready to cook the pesto pasta.
Equipment: I use Cuisinart Elite Food Processor to make the pesto. It’s a super powerful machine that results in the perfect pesto consistency! And it has a 3-in-1 wide mouth feed tube to make it easier to slowly add olive oil while the machine is running.


Serving: 1g, Calories: 260kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Sodium: 217mg, Potassium: 245mg, Vitamin A: 3535IU, Vitamin C: 41.3mg, Calcium: 109mg, Iron: 1.3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine Italian
Course: Main Course

Rate and comment

Recipe Rating


  1. Pascale says:

    OMG!!! What a nutritious pumpkin pesto sauce. The mixture and the ingredients selection is just perfect. I was surprised to see that my 4 years old also loved it and was asking for more.
    Thank you Yumna!!!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      That makes me so incredible happy! Thank you!


    Hi!! I have tried and it was delicious!! But when I chew I feel like the pumpkin seeds with shell, maybe I confused and bought the wrong pumpkin seeds. Or do I have to do something else to this could desappear?

    Thanks so much! I love all your recipe!!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Hi there! I do prefer to buy the pumpkin seeds with the shells removed for the recipe. If you do use the shell, you have to make sure they’re toasted so that they soften when blended. I hope that helps!

  3. Marie G says:

    This looks delicious. But how much Parmesan cheese does recipe call for? It just says 3 grated. Thank you!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Oops, the word tablespoons got deleted by accident. It’s updated now as 3 tablespoons. Thank you!

  4. Vanessa says:

    This is a very easy and delicious recipe. Its a favorite with my family and is on our weekly menu. Even my picky toddler liked it. Thank you!

  5. Amal mackie says:

    You say pesto, I am in. Love it