Thanks to this carrot top pesto, there’ll be no more tossing those frilly green carrot tops in the trash. Here’s how you can turn those lovely green carrot tops into something to dress up the carrots they came with. The flavor is slightly peppery, subtly lemony, and entirely something you’ll want again and again. Drizzle it over roasted carrots or pasta or any other thing you’d normally anoint with traditional basil pesto.Renee Schettler Rossi

A white platter with nine roasted carrots covered in carrot top pesto.

Carrot Top Pesto

5 / 2 votes
Carrot top pesto?! Believe it. Walnuts and fresh herbs and olive oil help create a vegan version of traditional pesto that puts to good use what would otherwise be kitchen scraps. 
David Leite
Servings8 servings | 1 cup total
Calories157 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


  • 4 ounces trimmed carrot tops (from 1 or 2 bunches carrots)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 ounce fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh mint leaves, chopped (about 1/2 cup), plus more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  • Pull the frilly fronds off the carrot tops from the stems and toss the stems in the compost. (The carrot tops have a firm, chewy texture, but the stems are tough, so don’t use them.) You should have at least 2 ounces (57 g) frilly carrot tops. Wash and dry the greens.
  • Pulse the garlic and walnuts briefly in a food processor, then add the carrot greens, basil, mint and the salt and pulse again, scraping down the sides of the container as needed, until the greens are finely chopped. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and process the pesto until it is smooth. (You can cover and refrigerate any leftover carrot top pesto for up to a couple days. The lemon flavor will become more noticeable with time, making it lovely to stir into vinaigrettes.)


Herbed Carrot Top Pesto Variation

No basil? Try parsley or cilantro along with a few fennel greens instead.
Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore Cookbook

Adapted From

Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 2 tablespoonsCalories: 157 kcalCarbohydrates: 3 gProtein: 1 gFat: 16 gSaturated Fat: 2 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 10 gSodium: 219 mgPotassium: 42 mgFiber: 0.5 gSugar: 0.2 gVitamin A: 263 IUVitamin C: 14 mgCalcium: 63 mgIron: 2 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2016 Anna Thomas. Photo © 2016 Victoria Pearson. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Carrot tops are perfectly edible and can be delicious, but for some reason there are precious few recipes for them. Put this carrot top pesto recipe in your back pocket and never waste a carrot top again. It’s not just good “for a pesto made of carrot tops I was going to compost.” It’s a darn good pesto. Period. I put my pesto over pasta with some fresh vegetables mixed in and loosened the pesto with just a bit of pasta water.

This carrot top pesto is a great way to make pesto when you don’t have a lot of basil on hand. While it does take a little bit of time to pull the fronds off of the thick stems, it’s worth the effort. The flavor of the carrot top pesto enhances and works well with roasted carrots. It’s also a nice spread for sandwiches and a great addition to an oil and vinegar dressing. In the future, I will use only 1/4 cup mint (just enough to brighten the pesto) and up the basil to 3/4 cup (because I love the flavor of basil). My leftover pesto had a much stronger lemon flavor the second day. This was a good time to add it to dressings and use it as a spread on sandwiches.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


    1. Yum, indeed, Zoë! I’ll bet you had absolutely fantastic flavor using those fresh garden greens.

  1. 5 stars
    This carrot top pesto recipe is a 10. My guests called it “divine.” The mint and lemon-forward flavor was bright and refreshing. I served it on crostini with whipped feta cheese. It was luscious.

    1. Thrilled that fewer carrot tops will be heading into the compost or trash in your household, Sharon!