Easy Cilantro Pesto Recipe with Spinach and Walnuts

  • 1 Minute Read

Traditionally pesto recipes are made with two main ingredients of basil and pine nuts. Our Cilantro Pesto Recipe with Spinach and Walnuts adds a tasty and budget friendly new twist to homemade pesto.

Easy Cilantro Pesto Recipe with Spinach and Walnuts

Cilantro Pesto Recipe?

When I think of cilantro, I imagine flavorful Mexican food, such as burritos, enchiladas and quesadillas. Consequently, when I discovered this pesto recipe entitled "Cilantro Walnut Pesto Sauce" I was intrigued.

Normally, the three main ingredients in pesto are fresh basil, pine nuts, and olive oil. However, instead of basil and pine nuts, this cilantro pesto recipe substitutes a combination of cilantro and spinach for the basil and walnuts for the pine nuts. One could even propose that this is a budget friendly homemade pesto recipe as generally cilantro is less expensive than basil, and walnuts are less costly than pine nuts. Regardless, this recipe provides a delicious twist on pesto!

Nutritional Benefits of Cilantro

Cilantro is a fresh leafy green herb which is also called coriander or Chinese parsley.

Some of the nutritional benefits of cilantro are:

Recipe Options

If you want a thick mild pesto spread for a sandwich or a warm panini, follow the Cilantro Walnut Pesto Sauce recipe below precisely. However, if you want a thinner sauce for pasta, measure and add olive oil slowly to your desired texture. Note, if you log your food intake, remember to add this extra olive oil to obtain an accurate nutritional analysis.

Toppings: To enhance the taste experience even further, top pasta and pesto sauce with chopped walnuts and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Freezing: I like to freeze pesto in an ice cube tray. When frozen, I pop the cubes out and put in a freezer container. When I need a quick meal, I just thaw a cube or two depending on how much pasta I make and have a delicious meal at a moment's notice.

Cilantro Walnut Pesto Sauce

Yield: 5 servings (1 serving = 2 Tablespoons)

Nutrition facts per serving (2 Tablespoons = 30 grams)
Calories: 138, 14 g fat, 2 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 289 mg sodium


  • 2 cups fresh cilantro or coriander leaves
  • 1 cup raw spinach
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons olive or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese


  1. Rinse and dry cilantro and spinach.

  2. Place cilantro, spinach, walnuts, olive oil, salt, and Parmesan cheese in a food processor and blend until very smooth.

  3. Tips:
    • Serve with penne pasta in recipe photo (not included in recipe analysis).
    • Pine Nuts can be substituted for walnuts.
    • Freezes well. Add a layer of plastic wrap when you store extra pesto to avoid having the green turn brown (which is still okay to eat, it just doesn't look good).

This is one of 200+ dietitian-approved recipes that will be available with the Premium membership this winter 2019-2020.

Foods & Recipes->Fruit & Vegetables Foods & Recipes->Nuts & Seeds
Nov 22, 2019
Martha M. Henze
Martha M. Henze, MPH, MS, RDN - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Global Public Health Epidemiologist

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