I lovingly refer to this pesto recipe as a “poor man’s pesto” because of two budget-friendly ingredient swaps.Parsley pesto, also known as "poor man's pesto" because it's so cheap to make! Click through for recipe.

It’s often cheaper to make your own sauces and condiments at home. Case in point, this pesto recipe. It’s a poor man’s pesto, if you will.

Cheaper alternatives are substituted for some of the typical pesto components of basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil.

Making Cheaper Pesto At Home

There are many alternative ways to make pesto. I’ve seen recipes that call for all types of non-basil greens (parsley, arugula, and lettuce) and nuts other than pine nuts (including macademia nuts and walnuts).

Feel free to experiment and make your own version of pesto using ingredients you already have on hand.

Both basil and pine nuts are quite expensive, so to save money, I make mine with parsley and walnuts. While there is a taste difference if you’re used to traditional pesto, it’s not a bad difference. This cheaper combination makes for a slightly lighter, fresher tasting pesto.

Pesto-Parmesan meatballs recipe

Get the recipe: Pesto-Parmesan meatballs

Pesto Serving Suggestions

You can use this pesto any way you typically use pesto:

Parsley pesto recipe

Parsley Pesto

Yield: 1 1/2 cups pesto
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Leftover pesto keeps well in the freezer. I keep small, 1/2 cup servings sealed in plastic storage bags.


  • 2 cups fresh parsley leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of salt
  • Water, if needed


  1. In a food processor or blender, pulse parsley and walnuts a few times. Add garlic and pulse some more. Slowly stream in olive oil, continuing to blend ingredients. Scrape down sides to ensure even consistency. Add Parmesan cheese and continue pulsing. Add salt to your liking.
  2. If pesto is too thick, add additional olive oil, or for a lighter option, add water.

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