Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Pumpkin Seed Pesto in a bowl with a spoon

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
98 Calories
10g Fat
2g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 98
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 46mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 6mg 32%
Calcium 18mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 56mg 1%
*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.)

This simple pumpkin seed pesto recipe is delicious used as you would any pesto recipe; to top a piece of fish, tossed into hot pasta, or stirred into a soup. Pumpkin seeds are one of nature's most nutritious foods and this delicious pesto recipe is a great way to eat them! By the way, don't worry about roasting and shelling them yourself. All the high-end grocery stores now sell these roasted and ready to use. However, if it's October and you happen to have lots of pumpkin seeds on hand from jack-o'-lantern carving, then this is an amazing way to use them up.

This recipe is almost identical to a classic pesto—except for the pumpkin seeds (hence the name of the dish). Traditionally, pesto is made with basil, olive oil, Parmesan, and garlic. Here, we add parsley for color and flavor, lemon to bolster the brightness of the spread, and we swap pumpkin seeds for pine nuts. Because of the hyper-fresh ingredients, though, this condiment doesn't last too long—only about two (maybe three) days in the refrigerator. But no worries—we doubt there will be many leftovers regardless. This pesto is amazing.

Of course, pasta and pesto are an amazing combination. A pesto cream is another amazing way to dress your pasta. Mix this pesto into some aioli or mayonnaise for an excellent condiment that everyone will use with reckless abandon on his or her sandwiches. As mentioned earlier, it's also wonderful with all kinds of grilled or sautéed proteins, stirred into soup, heaped on top of crostini, and much more. The options are endless.

Pumpkin seeds are truly packed with nutrients and vitamins, including manganese, phosphorus, vitamin K, iron, zinc, and copper. Wow! Clearly, their inclusion in this pesto makes it quite the healthful condiment, spread, or sauce. They also help reduce inflammation, help to reduce cancer risk, improve heart health, and can lower blood sugar levels. While the original pesto may include pine nuts—which are delicious, don't get us wrong—they are super expensive and not as healthful as pumpkin seeds. Win-win!

This recipe calls for a food processor, but if you have a mortar and pestle, we recommend testing that method out! It's traditionally how pesto was made in the olden days, so it could be a great use for your mortar and pestle—especially if it's not the most commonly used tool in your kitchen repertoire.


  • 1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, roasted

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 3/4 cup basil leaves

  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • Kosher salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Pumpkin Seed Pesto ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Combine pumpkin seeds, Parmesan, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse on and off, for about 20 seconds, until seeds are almost ground.

    Combine pumpkin seeds, Parmesan, and garlic in a food processor

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Add basil, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil, and pulse on and off for about 40 seconds (you may want to ​scrape down the sides with a spatula in between pulses), until all ingredients are combined. The mixture should be more like a course paste than a liquefied sauce, so be careful not to overprocess.

    Pumpkin Seed Pesto in a food processor

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Transfer to a bowl or glass storage jar, taste, and adjust seasoning with salt. Be sure to taste, as the pumpkin seeds may have been well salted when they were roasted. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days.

    Pumpkin Seed Pesto in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack