Ready in less than 10 minutes, my easy garlic scape pesto is the perfect use for those garlic scapes you got in your CSA or at the farmer’s market. Delicious on bread, pasta, veggies, proteins, aka all the things!pesto in small wooden bowl. piece of baguette dipped in. Garlic scape pesto is my favorite way to use garlic scapes in the kitchen! Its garlicky, cheesy, fresh and vibrantly green. And it’s super easy to make in less than 10 minutes.

Aside from the garlic scapes, this recipe only calls for 5 ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your fridge or pantry. 

I love adding this pesto to chicken, eggs, bread, pasta, shrimp, you name it! It really makes anything delicious. Grilled summer vegetables? Even better with a dollop of this pesto on top. 

What are Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the curly, tender green stems that grow from the bulb of the garlic plant. They are harvested before they flower, which allows the garlic bulb to grow larger without its stems. 

Scapes have a vibrant flavor reminiscent of a combo between onion, scallions, and of course, garlic. This makes them the perfect savory addition to a variety of dishes that could use a kick of garlicky flavor without being too overpowering. 

You can eat all parts of the scapes if you’d like, and you can also eat it raw, sautéed, braised, blended, or even roasted. 

My favorite way to use garlic scapes is pesto (duh), but you can use them anywhere you’d typically add garlic, onion, or scallions. The options are truly endless (more on this in the FAQs later!).

They’re in season from late spring through early summer, so be sure to grab a bunch at the farmer’s market if you see it!

Ingredients You’ll Need

ingredients. labeled. on marble counter.

Notes on Ingredients

Garlic scapes: The flavor powerhouse. Traditional pesto recipes often have a garlic clove or two involved, and scapes will provide that same flavor, with a bit more depth and softness. Make sure to follow the instructions on how to prep it!

Basil: Gives it the pesto flavor and vibrant hue we know and love. It also will help to balance out stronger garlicky notes. Prune any big stems before adding to the food processor. 

Walnuts: Adds structure and a touch of sweetness. If you don’t have walnuts nuts on hand, you can use pine nuts or even pecans. I like using walnuts because they’re much less expensive than pine nuts. But pine nuts yield a delicious pesto too so you really can’t go wrong! I like toasting my walnuts first to help bring out their earthiness and reduce any bitterness but it’s not a necessary step by any means!

Parmesan cheese: Adds a savory, umami flavor and can act as a binding agent. 

Lemon: Gives the recipe some acidity to balance out the flavors and add brightness. 

Olive oil: Emulsifies everything together. I like using extra virgin olive oil as it’s the highest quality.

Equipment You’ll Need

How to Make Garlic Scape Pesto

scapes trimmed. scapes chopped. basil blended. walnuts added. parmesan added. olive oil added. in blender.

Step 1: Prep garlic scapes by trimming just below bulbs and woody ends (discarding bulbous end and woody ends).

Step 2: Chop remaining scape into 1-inch pieces.

Step 3: Add garlic scapes and basil to food processor, pulse to combine. 

Step 4: Add walnuts and pulse until combined. Scrape down the sides of the blender / food processor as needed.

Step 5: With the blender or food processor running, stream in the olive oil until emulsified and pesto looks uniform.

Step 6: Add parmesan cheese and blend until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

EXPERT TIPS

  • You can throw all the ingredients in the food processor at once but I find I get a smoother, more uniform consistency when I pulse ingredients in steps (outlined above and in recipe card).
  • If you find the pesto is too bitter for your liking, add more basil and/or parmesan cheese!
  • For a thinner consistency, add more olive oil.
pesto in small wooden bowl. cup of parmesan. scapes. cup of walnuts. basil. lemon slice. on grey counter.

Garlic Scape Pesto FAQS

What part of the garlic scape do you use?

You can eat the entire scape, but for this pesto, I’d recommend trimming the bulb and the woody end (similar to asparagus) as they tend to be tough and stringy.

How do you cut garlic scapes for pesto?

Once you remove the bulb and woody part of the stem, you can roughly chop the rest. Since it will be going into a blender or food processor, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Aim for 1-2 inch pieces. 

How do you use garlic scape pesto?

I use this pesto on almost everything. Sandwiches, pasta, bread, eggs, fish, chicken, veggies, you name it. Plus, it’s easy to make a big batch and then freeze in an ice cube tray so you can pop it out when you need it! 

What else can I do with garlic scapes?

So many things! Substitute them for scallions or chives in any recipe. Use them to add mild garlic flavor to a recipe. Finely dice and add to scrambled eggs with goat cheese (my personal fave). Sauté them to use as a pizza or pasta topping. Make a compound butter. You can even pickle them!

Why is my garlic scape pesto bitter?

A bitter flavor is often due to excessive emulsification of olive oil. Olive oil has naturally occurring bitter compounds that can get released if you over-process it. Similarly, basil can also become bitter if blended too much. To avoid this, add your olive oil very slowly on a lower blend speed and blend just until desired consistency is reached. You can also add more parmesan cheese and/or basil to help.

How long can you store pesto for?

Pesto will last for up to one week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. However, it will last up to six months in the freezer.

Can you freeze garlic scape pesto?

Yes! I like to freeze pesto in ice cube trays so I can easily pop one or two out, depending on how much I need. Once frozen in ice cube trays, transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag for long-term storage, up to six months in the freezer!

Recipes that pair well:

For more summer sides inspiration, check out my recipes below!

If you like this recipe, please be sure to give it a 5 star rating below. If you make it, share it on Instagram and tag me @karalydonrd and I’ll re-share it with my followers! If you want to save this recipe for later, be sure to pin it on Pinterest!

This recipe was retested, reshot and revamped to bring you the most delicious (and most beautiful) dish! The original post was published July 2019. 

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Garlic Scape Pesto


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (85 votes, average: 3.32 out of 5)
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  • Author: Kara Lydon
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: About 1 cup 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Ready in less than 10 minutes, my easy garlic scape pesto is the perfect use for those garlic scapes you got in your CSA or at the farmer’s market. Delicious on bread, pasta, veggies, proteins, aka all the things!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 bunch or 10-13 garlic scapes, bulb and woody ends removed, chopped into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 1/2 cup packed basil
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Prepare garlic scapes by trimming just below the bulb and woody ends. Chop remaining scape into 1-inch pieces.
  2. In a high speed blender or food processor, add garlic scapes and basil and pulse to combine.
  3. Add walnuts and pulse until combined. Scrape down the sides of the blender / food processor as needed.
  4. With the blender or food processor running, stream in the olive until emulsified and pesto looks uniform.
  5. Add parmesan cheese and lemon juice and blend until combined.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Notes

  1. Store pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to six months.
  2. I like to freeze pesto in ice cube trays and then transfer to a freezer bag for long-term storage. This allows me to use a little bit of pesto at a time as I need it.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: garlic scape pesto

 

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26 Comments

  1. Jacki

    I’ve got lots of garlic scapes and basil in my garden. This looks like the perfect way to use them both. I’m going to use pine nuts instead of walnuts. Can’t wait!

    • Woohoo! Feel free to come back here and let me know what you think of the recipe once you’ve made it!

  2. Chris

    We’re growing about 100 head of garlic this year, so there are plenty of scapes. Actually grilled the scapes as well as a few large cloves of garlic. Made the 3X size using some fresh Genoa basil and (this being Vermont) about a third cup of fresh cannabis leaves. They added a green edge to the taste which really rounded things out. Also used a combination of Locatelli Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano.
    Grilling the scapes makes them a bit sweeter so the other flavors, like the lemon juice, tend to stand out more. Be careful while grilling whole garlic cloves as they can burst (actually explode) if they get too hot.
    All in all this is a wonderful pesto, looking forward to see how it ages for a few days in the fridge. Probably won’t last long enough to make it to the freezer.

  3. mavie

    you left out the lemon juice in the method ??

  4. Peter

    Made this recipe now that i am growing garlic and it is absolutely amazing… we love it.
    We actually made an aioli with a little bit of the residual pesto from the food processor and it tastes awesome too. We use it on sandwiches and burgers etc…

  5. Amber

    I am so confused why this has such a low rating. I have read all of the comments and they all seem to be positive. We only have enough scapes this year to try two recipes so I’m a little weary.

    • Scapes can be a super overpowering flavor if you’re not used to them! Do let me know if you ended up trying the pesto – I’d be curious to see what you thought. I find with enough walnuts, basil, and cheese, it achieves the right flavor balance.

    • Scot

      It was easy and AWESOME

  6. Denise

    Hi! I found that I had to add much more oil than the recipe called for! Did I do something wrong?

    • Hmmm! I’m not sure. It’s best to add in the olive oil very slowly so it can blend and emulsify properly with the other ingredients. If added to quickly, it can separate out and it might seem like you need to add more to blend. Does this sound like what might have happened? Let me know!

  7. Jenn Haloon

    It came out amazing. Are used wild garlic scapes from my yard and did not have a full cup. I also screwed up by putting the olive oil in before I even blended it. It is one of the best pestos I’ve ever had!

    • Thanks, Jenn! Doesn’t get better than garlic scapes right from the yard. I’ve definitely made that mistake before, but it still tastes delicious.

  8. Bekah

    I made this, and it was great!! It’s an excellent recipe to use the buds on top 🙂

  9. Denise

    I subbed non fortified nutritional yeast for the parm so it was vegan. Love it!
    I’ve also used raw sunflower seeds, but prefer walnuts as written

    • Hi Denise – that sounds like a perfect modification! I’ll have to try nutritional yeast next time I’m craving something more vegan-friendly.

  10. Susan Stamm

    This was the best garlic scape pesto. I’ve been making garlic scape pesto for years and I decided to try this recipe. So far it is my favorite! I freeze mine either in ice cube
    trays or flat in freezer bags. Freezing flat helps to break chunks off while frozen.

    • What a compliment, thanks so much Susan! Freezing flat is a great trip, I’ll have to try that 🙂

  11. Used pecans instead of walnuts. I think this is outstanding for whatever nut you want to use. Used the 3 cup recipe and when all said and done I had 4 1/2 cups which I made 1/2 cup portions for freezing.

  12. janice

    at last a recipe with the right proportions!! I made several batches and all were great!!!
    thank you. The lemon really brightened it up. I ran out of walnuts and then i used pine nuts. ran out of those and used cashews. I liked the batch with pine nuts best!

    • Isn’t pesto the best? I’m so happy to hear all batches came out well – pine nuts are one of my favorites too.

  13. This pesto looks delicious… I’m gonna try this recipe!