Utilize carrot tops in a fun and flavorful way with this delicious carrot top pesto! Made with fresh carrot leaves, cilantro, pumpkin seeds and Parmesan, this pesto is herby and savory! 

Photograph of bright green carrot top pesto in a speckled bowlWait, can you eat carrot greens?

Yes! You can eat carrot greens like you do salad greens or herbs. They are earthy and tender, and somewhat reminiscent of baby kale leaves. 

It’s best to thoroughly wash the carrot tops as they can have quite a bit of sand or dirt in them. I like to was them like I do lettuce, rinsing and spinning dry in a salad spinner (this salad spinner is my all-time fav).

Looking for more ways to use carrot tops? Check out this list of 11 recipes using carrots tops!

Photograph of carrot tops, cilantro, garlic, cheese, spices, pepitas and a lime prepped and arranged on a baking sheetHow to make carrot top pesto 

The process for making carrot top pesto is very similar to how you would make any other pesto. The only difference is that carrot tops (the green leaves attached to whole carrots) are used as an herb, taking the place of what normally would be basil. 

Here are the general steps for making carrot top pesto:

  1. Thoroughly clean the carrot leaves (important step). 
  2. Add carrot leaves, cilantro, pepitas, Parmesan, oregano, garlic, lime zest and juice, spices, and honey to a food process and pulse together. 
  3. Stream oil into processor while running until pesto is smooth and emulsified. 
  4. Use however you’d like! 

Photograph of carrot top ingredients in a food processor bowl set on a marble counter
Carrot top pesto without nuts 

For those of you who are allergic to nuts, this pesto is for you! It utilizes pepitas (pumpkin seeds) instead of pine nuts. In combination with the oregano, lime and cilantro, this pesto definitely has a Mexican flare to it, but will work for a variety of different recipes! 

Photograph of bright green carrot top pesto in a food processor bowl set on a marble counter

How to use carrot top pesto: 

  • Toss pesto with your favorite pasta 
  • Toss with pasta and serve with Chicken Meatballs and roasted carrots
  • Toss with cooked red potatoes for a quick and delicious potato salad 
  • Use as a spread on sandwiches (pesto grilled cheese anyone?!) 
  • Use it as the base for a vinaigrette (add some vinegar and a splash of olive oil) 
  • Spread onto crostini and top with brie, broil and serve as a quick and fresh appetizer
  • Feature it on a cheese or charcuterie board

Photograph of a fork picking up a piece of pasta tossed with carrot top pesto Pesto recipes you may like:

Miso Pesto Ramen

Arugula Pesto

Trapanese Pesto (tomato-based pesto recipe)

Photograph of three plates filled with carrot top pesto pasta, roasted carrots and chicken meatballs

Make sure to tag me @ZESTFULKITCHEN ON INSTAGRAM or comment below if you make this Carrot Top Pesto.

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Photograph of bright green carrot top pesto in a speckled bowl

Carrot Top Pesto

  • Author: Lauren
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: American/Mexican

Description

Utilize carrot tops in a fun and flavorful way with this delicious carrot top pesto! Made with fresh carrot leaves, cilantro, pumpkin seeds and Parmesan, this pesto is herby and savory! 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups carrot tops
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • ¼ cup pepitas
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan, pecorino romano, or manchego
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano 
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Zest of 1 lime (¾ teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1 teaspoon honey 
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • ⅓ cup olive or avocado oil

Instructions

Pulse all ingredients except olive oil together in a food processor until minced, about 15 pulses. 

With processor running, stream in oil until pesto is smooth and emulsified, scraping down sides as needed, about 1 minute. 

Store pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Use as desired.


Notes

Variations:

Make it vegan: use maple syrup instead of honey and leave out cheese or use vegan cheese.

Make it Italian: use fresh basil instead of cilantro, use lemon instead of lime, use pine nuts instead of pepitas, and use red pepper flakes instead of cumin and coriander.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: ¼ cup
  • Calories: 133
  • Sugar: 1
  • Sodium: 255mg
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Cholesterol: 8mg

Keywords: Carrot top pesto, carrot leaves, pesto, carrot top recipe

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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Comments

  1. Appreciate the tip to sub in Basil for Cilantro, as I don’t like Cilantro and have a ton of Basil I need to use.

    In response to that 2 star recipe, maybe they missed the “skip to recipe” button at the top….

    1. Mmm this is so great with basil, I might need to do this soon as my basil plant is also exploding! Thank you for the kind comment—I am working with my ad company to decrease the total ads, but I agree with you, the skip to recipe button hopefully makes that easier for people! 🙂

  2. This is DELICIOUS! I have a ton of carrots in my garden and this has been a fabulous use of all those tops. OMG. I just keep making batches of this. My most recent use is to take a loaf of French bread, slice it open, spread this pesto on each half…sprinkle with mozzarella, top with slices of fresh garden tomatoes, sprinkle with Parmesan and pop in the oven. SO good. SO much bright garden flavor. So thank you for this.

    1. Hi Laura! Wow that sounds absolutely delicious, what a great way to use the pesto! So glad you’re enjoying the recipe!

  3. I made a vegan version subbing basil for cilantro, lemon for lime and syrup for honey. It turned out great. I’m glad to have a recipe which uses up all the wasted carrot tops.

  4. My first yield of carrots was small and I had more greens that carrots – so thankful I found this great recipe for the greens. What a great idea! I made the Italian version. It yielded 3 – 1/4 pint jars and I can’t wait to eat it. I blanched the carrots and froze them to eat later, and I gave my friend the leaves from the stalks for her meat rabbits. Nothing wasted.