Lemon-Dill Pesto Recipe

Lemon-Dill Pesto

William Reavell / Getty Images

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
316 Calories
30g Fat
14g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 316
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30g 39%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 280mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 72mg 361%
Calcium 77mg 6%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 344mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Pesto is associated primarily with Italian food and basil. The idea of pounding or processing fresh herbs and other ingredients into a condiment or a fresh, no-cook sauce is not proprietary to Italy’s traditional basil pesto, it exists in many other cuisines—think French pistou, Argentinian chimichurri, Moroccan chermoula, and German green sauce. 

As much as the ingredients for pesto-like sauces vary, so do the preparation methods. Pesto can be made using a mortar and pestle—pesto means “pounded” in Italian—or made in the food processor. 

Dill is an herb that makes a particularly good accompaniment for fish. Scandinavia is surrounded by seas and fish recipes abound in the traditional cuisines of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden so it’s only natural that the Scandinavian take on pesto sauce is made with dill. 

The dill pesto goes well with any type of grilled, broiled, or steamed fish. Also try it with salmon patties or salmon burgers, smoked salmon, or gravlax. Besides fish, it is also great with crab cakes. And you don’t have to stick with fish and seafood, you can also serve the pesto with grilled chicken. 

Just like traditional Italian pesto, this recipe contains a generous amount of fresh garlic. If you prefer it less garlicky, use less. 

Instead of pine nuts, this recipe uses walnuts. You can just add them to the pesto but to give the walnuts a richer, nuttier flavor, try toasting them before in an ungreased pan until they turn golden and release a nutty smell. 

There is no Parmesan or other cheese in this pesto so it’s dairy-free. For oil, instead of extra-virgin olive oil, it uses rapeseed or canola oil, both oils with a mild, neutral flavor. 

If the whole 2 cups is too much for you, you can easily cut the recipe in half. 

Due to the risk of botulism spores that can develop in garlic and oil combinations under anaerobic conditions, use the pesto right away, or within the next few hours, stored in a jar in the fridge. Otherwise it is best to freeze the pesto. Adding a little lemon juice helps the pesto keep its bright green color.


  • 5 tablespoons walnuts

  • 5 cloves garlic

  • 6 ounces fresh dill, about 2 to 3 cups, roughly chopped

  • 1 large lemon, zested

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 to 1 cup rapeseed oil, or canola oil

Steps to Make It

  1. Place 5 tablespoons walnuts and 5 cloves garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add fresh dill, lemon zest, and salt. Process into a thick paste.

  2. Continue to process (using the "pulse" feature if available), gradually pouring in rapeseed or canola oil until pesto is the consistency of a thick tomato sauce.

  3. Refrigerate lemon-dill pesto, covered, until ready to use.