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The Secret Ingredient to Keep Pesto Bright Green | Healthy Kitchen Hacks

The Secret Ingredient to Keep Pesto Bright Green | Healthy Kitchen Hacks

Does your pesto turn an olive color of brownish-green? For the secret ingredient to keep pesto green, keep reading.

We share kitchen shortcuts and tricks on how to cook more healthfully and deliciously in the kitchen.

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Now…onto today’s featured Healthy Kitchen Hack:

The Secret Ingredient to Keep Pesto Green

How to Keep Pesto Green | @TspCurry

I’m counting down the days until our Farmers Market opens for the summer. Big bunches of basil will be in my basket in about 11 days. I wish I could say I’m growing it. But our garden is under a jungle of weeds has been delayed this year.

If you’ve ever tried to make pesto from fresh basil, it often turns out looking rather dull-olive-green, instead of bright green like the basil leaves from which it’s made.

Now olive green pesto is still delicious. But if you’ve ever wondered why basil pesto doesn’t stay bright green?  Here’s the answer:

  • Basil is very fragile, even chopping the leaves turns them brown.
  • Lemon juice does not stop the browning.
  • Gently tearing basil leaves, instead of chopping them, does stop the browning.

But can you imagine tearing enough basil leaves into teeny-tiny pieces to produce pesto? Not fun.  Can you guess? The Secret Ingredient to Keep Pesto Bright Green #HealthyKitchenHacks via @TspCurry Click To Tweet

So…drumroll, here’s the secret ingredient to keep pesto bright green.

It’s carrot tops!

How to Keep Pesto Green | @TspCurry

They’re the carrot tops I used to always throw out. They are hearty greens and have a sweet carrot flavor. And carrot greens stay green, even in the food processor.

And, if you don’t have carrot tops, any hearty green like collard greens, mustard greens or even spinach will also work.

How to Keep Pesto Green | @TspCurry

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How to Keep Pesto Green | @TspCurry

Bright Green Pesto with a Secret Ingredient

  • Author: Serena Ball
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Make your pesto with this secret ingredient and it will stay bright basil-green instead of turning dull olive-green.



1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons aged cheese (I used Cabot Sharp Cheddar)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup (lightly packed) basil leaves

1 cup (lightly packed) carrot top leaves, trimmed of lower tougher stems

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Place walnuts, garlic, cheese, salt, pepper in food processor and pulse 10 times.

Add basil and carrot top leaves, pressing them down. Turn on food processor and add olive oil in a stream through the top chute of the food processor; process about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until pesto reaches the desired consistency.

  • Category: sauce

How to Keep Pesto Green | @TspCurry

Did this trick work for you? Do you have other uses for carrot tops?

Find out the best and easiest way to keep your pesto green! See this Healthy Kitchen Hack and more at | @TspCurry

Mandy Enright

Wednesday 17th of May 2017

Thanks so much for this hack! Now I feel guilty for not buying the carrots with the tops on them already just so I can use those greens.

Serena Ball

Thursday 18th of May 2017

No guilt allowed! Just use 'em up if you've got 'em Mandy. (: (or use another hearty green you have on hand.)

Kelly Jones

Wednesday 17th of May 2017

1) My garden is also under a jungle of weeds right now (how is it already mid-May?!) 2) I have carrot tops that need to be used Thanks for the idea :)

Serena Ball

Thursday 18th of May 2017

Oh good. So glad I'm not the only 'gardener' who is gardening only weeds at this point! Glad you can use up your carrot tops Kelly!

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