Carrot Top Pesto, a simple pesto recipe made from fresh carrot greens, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, and oil. A unique food waste recovery recipe!

A bowl of pesto made with carrot greens on a white napkin on a blue table.

I have something to admit: I’ve been throwing away carrot tops my entire life.

Or rather, I buy carrots without their tops and don’t give a second thought to where the carrot tops are going.

How many beautiful, nutritious green carrot tops have I wasted because I didn’t know carrot tops could be consumed? I had no idea eating carrot tops was even a thing.

But in my quest to become a greener eater, I have been implementing more root-to-stem cooking techniques. Using as much of the edible parts of vegetable as you can is a more sustainable way to prepare and utilize foods but the most important reason for eating carrot tops (or any vegetable, for that matter) is because they are delicious!

Carrot tops have small, leafy sprigs that are similar to parsley and can be used in any way that you would use a more traditional herb (though they have a much milder taste). And the perfect primer for using carrot tops is to make Carrot Top Pesto!

A bunch of carrots with bright green stems on a white table.

🥕 How to make Carrot Top Pesto

Making carrot top pesto is a unique way to use up carrot greens that would otherwise be wasted and it just so happens to be super simple.

1️⃣ Step One: Cut leaves from carrot stems

First, cut the carrot tops from the carrots. I’ve found that carrot greens generally still have some dirt on them so it’s important to wash the greens thoroughly before using.

sliced carrot tops on a white cutting board
Cut carrot greens from the soft part of the stem

2️⃣ Step Two: Pulse ingredients in food processor

After the carrots tops have been washed, chop into small pieces and add to a food processor. Add pine nuts (or seeds if you're avoiding nuts), oil, and garlic and pulse until well chopped but not completely smooth, adding more oil if necessary.

carrot greens, nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor
Pulse pesto ingredients into smooth

That’s it! A simple recipe using food that would otherwise be wasted and not enjoyed. Pat yourself on the back for being a food waste warrior!

a hand stirring green carrot leaves pesto in a white pan
Eat pesto on pastas, in soups, and on vegetables

🌿 How to serve pesto

Pesto made with carrot tops instead of basil can be used any way that you use regular basil-containing pesto, such as:

  • As a pasta sauce: make carrot top pesto pasta with your favorite noodle (I love bucatini)
  • As a meat or fish topping: add carrot top pesto to salmon, chicken, pork, or beef
  • As a dip or sauce: use carrot top pesto inside hummus or as a dipping sauce for fresh crudités
  • As a soup flavor: add a dab of carrot top pesto to your favorite soup recipe for a touch of added flavor
A bowl of carrot greens, a bunch of carrots, a bowl of salt, and shredded cheese on a white table.

🥣 Recipe variations

This is a great foundational recipe for pesto, but it can easily be tailored to your dietary, allergen, or taste preference:

  • Make it vegan: substitute cheese for nutritional yeast to make this pesto plant-based
  • Switch up the nuts: instead of pine nuts use walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, or even go nut- and seed-free by using chickpeas or white beans in place of nuts or seeds
  • Add some spice: add cumin, chili flakes, turmeric, oregano, or lemon to add some spice or change the pesto flavor profile
pesto pasta with cherry tomatoes on a blue plate with a gold fork
Carrot Top pesto in our Carrot Top Pasta recipe

♻️ Sustainable kitchen tips, tricks & tools

This simple no-basil pesto recipe has only seven ingredients and does not require much prep, however there are a few tips and tricks that will make preparing Carrot Top Pesto even easier:

  1. Kitchen tools you’ll need: a good quality food processor or quality handheld mixer is a must, as well as a set of quality kitchen knives and wooden or silicone spoons
  2. Spice it up: I’m of the mindset that you can skimp and scrape on some ingredients, but a good quality sea salt (or even a flavored salt like smoked sea salt) and black peppercorns is key
  3. Storage: this Carrot Top Pesto is perfect for batch cooking and freezing for later use. I always use repurposed glass containers (old honey and jam jars, etc.) or my Pyrex glass food storage containers

This Carrot Top Pesto is one of my favorite recipes that utilizes foods that would otherwise be thrown away to reduce food waste in the kitchen.

I hope it inspires you to think differently about the foods you throw away and helps salvage these perfectly edible scraps into something unique and delicious!

A white bowl of pesto on a white table table.

🥕 More recipes using carrot tops

Want more recipes using carrot greens? We've got you covered:

Craving more simple pesto sauce recipes? Check out our Radish Greens Pesto, Beet Leaves Pesto, Arugula Pesto, Vegan Parsley Pesto, Plant-Based Kale Pesto, Broccoli Stalk Pesto, Pumpkin Seed Pesto, Sunflower Seed Pesto, or 5-Minute Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto, all outside-the-box pesto sauce recipes that will add a boost of flavor and fun to your meals.

Did you make this Carrot Top Pesto? Leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let us know how it turned out. Save this recipe for later by pinning to your favorite sauce Pinterest board and make sure to tag me on Fork in the Road’s Instagram to show me your carrot green creations!

Yield: 6 servings (1/2 cup each)

Carrot Top Pesto

A white bowl of pesto on a white table table.

Carrot Top Pesto, a simple pesto recipe made from fresh carrot greens, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, and oil. A unique food waste recovery recipe!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 2 cups carrot tops and stems, chopped (from about 8 medium carrots)
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • ⅛ teaspoon quality sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper


  1. Add carrot tops, pine nuts, and garlic cloves to food processor and pulse until chopped. Slowly add in oil and continue pulsing until well combined, but not smooth.
  2. Add parmesan, salt, and pepper and pulse a few more times until combined.
  3. Use as a sauce with your favorite pasta, vegetables, meat, seafood, or dip.


  • Food waste tips: Use both carrot tops and stems in this recipe to create less waste. Both the carrot greens and their stems are perfectly edible and delicious in pesto.
  • Leftovers & Storage: store pesto in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week; freeze for up to two months (possibly longer)
  • Nutrition: This carrot top pesto is a good source of vitamin and calcium, and is high in protein per serving. It is also rich in healthy fats, which increase satiety and play a role in cell health.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1 serving (1/2 cup)

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 390Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 400mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 16g