Paleo Roasted Garlic Pesto Sauce

By: Cassy Joy Garcia

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I have a secret.

I make BIG batches of paleo-friendly sauces, store them in my fridge, and then use them to transform my food all week into amazing globe-trotting flavorful grub.

I’ve spent a long time perfecting my sauces and I’m ready to share one with you today.

I’m thrilled to introduce you to my Roasted Garlic Paleo Pesto.

Recipes don’t get much easier, or more flavorful, than this one.


Roasting the garlic is the most time consuming part, which is compensated by the fact that your house will smell like an Italian villa for the rest of the day. I love the smell of roasted garlic. Don’t be intimidated by the process! It’s super easy.

Pesto is typically made with a good amount of cheese. I add the roasted garlic to offset the missing cheese flavor, toasted some pine nuts (for even more flavor), and used a lot of really fresh basil.

Don’t worry, the pesto doesn’t scream “GARLIC!” … it screams “holy cow what is in this magic green paste that tastes so amazing?!”

What do you do with a big bowl of pesto?

Put it on everything! Really, it’s good on pretty much anything you can dream up.

My next two posts will show you a couple examples (a breakfast recipe & a dinner/entertaining recipe) of how you can use the pesto.

I hope you love it!

For starters, grab some fresh garlic and preheat your oven to 375 Fahrenheit. Peel the outer layer of the garlic off (leaving the individual cloves still attached to each other) and chop off the top of the bulb. You want to cut the top off of each bulb so you may need to get creative to access the side bulbs that are missed with the first cut.


Wrap in aluminum foil. Do this by placing the bottom of the garlic in the middle of a foil square and bring the sides up and over the cut side, twisting it closed. I like to bake mine in a muffin pan so that they stay standing upright. I want all the garlic juices to stay in their little nature-made pouches.


Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until they look like THIS! I made a double batch because I was cooking for an army. Now you’re done with the garlic. Wasn’t that easy??


Now it’s pine nut time.

Put a small/medium-sized frying pan on medium/low heat. Add the pine nuts and continuously toss and stir them until they’re slightly brown and fragrant. They burn easily so make sure you stir constantly. This should take about 3-4 minutes.


Measure out 1 cup of packed fresh basil leaves. Add them to your food processor and squeeze in the juice of one lemon. Now it’s garlic squeezing time. Hopefully your garlic has cooled to the point that you can pick it up. Start squeezing the bulb so that the now soft cloves ooze out and into your pesto.


Now, add half of your EVOO.

Throw in the toasted pine nuts (which have also helped make your house smell amazing). Pulse your food processor until it’s pretty well blended. Scrape down the sides with a spatula so that everything blends the next time.



Add the salt. Add pepper to your liking. Add the rest of the EVOO. Now pulse the food processor until it’s smooth, creamy, and ba-licious.





Paleo Garlic Pesto Sauce

Pesto minus the dairy, but still full of the flavor!

  • Author: Amber Goulden
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x


  • 1 cup Packed Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 1 Garlic Bulb
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1 Lemon {juiced}
  • 1/4 cup EVOO {extra virgin olive oil}
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • Cracked Pepper to Taste



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Peel the outer layers of the garlic skin off leaving the cloves still attached.
  3. Cut the top of the bulb off. Make sure to cut the tops of cloves hiding on the side.
  4. Wrap in aluminum foil with the cut side up.
  5. Bake at 375 Fahrenheit {balance in the muffin pan} for 30-45 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool before you handle.


  1. Toast the pine nuts in a small/medium-sized pan over low/medium heat. Stir them constantly and remove from heat when they’re slightly brown and fragrant. {Careful, they can burn easily}.
  2. Add basil, lemon juice, roasted garlic, ½ the EVOO, and toasted pine nuts to a food processor. Pulse until it’s evenly combined.
  3. Add the salt, pepper, and remaining EVOO to the food processor. Pulse until it’s smooth and cream.

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Recipe rating

  1. Rutvika says:

    Lovely detailed instructions! And so much healthier without the cheese..

    1. fedandfit says:

      Thank you! I agree …much healthier!

  2. Alicia Jay (@aliciajaybird) says:

    Mm, the pesto looks divine! I’ll have to try this on my favorite summer dish: zucchini noodles and cherry tomatoes (usually mixed lightly with olive oil and black pepper). The little jar is charming as well.

    1. fedandfit says:

      That sounds delicious!! Zucchini and cherry tomatoes just made my weekly grocery shopping list! Thank you 🙂

  3. Jordan says:

    I made this pesto, and although tastes amazing, it’s not as creamy looking at yours. suggestions?

    1. fedandfit says:

      Hi Jordan! Hmm … the difference could be in how quickly you added the olive oil to the rest of the pesto. Next time you give it a try, add the olive oil in more slowly (not quite as slowly as you would when making mayo) and see if that helps the texture.

  4. Chloe Chase says:

    I love the tip on roasting garlic in foil. I’ve tried that before it works great if you seal the garlic very tight.

    1. fedandfit says:

      Thanks, Chloe! You’re so right – sealing it very tight is important!

  5. Rachel says:

    The Husband and I are CrossFitters, and while we generally adhere to clean eating, we haven’t taken on the paleo challenge. Until now, that is. I made this delicious pesto and used it, along with some tomatoes, to top our freshly caught fish tonight and we loved it! Thanks for the recipes. Keep ’em coming!

    1. fedandfit says:

      It’s my pleasure, Rachel! Thank you for the note! I’m so glad y’all liked the pesto.

  6. Angela says:

    I made this tonight and slathered some on grilled chicken. Ahhhh-mazing!!!! So delicious, thanks for the recipe….and the house smells amazing, too!

    1. Cassandra says:

      Awesome! I slather it on everything 🙂

  7. bridgette says:

    OH MY GOD. This is the first recipe I’ve tried for pesto (ever!), and my god its amazing!!!! Literally eating it with a spoon. Thanks for the easy to follow instructions!

    1. Cassandra says:

      Haha nice!! Welcome to the world of pesto obsession. I’m so glad you like it!

  8. Jayme says:

    Thank you so much for this amazing recipe, Cassandra, I couldn’t believe how delicious this was. Please try it over roasted spaghetti squash, so good!

    1. Cassandra says:

      Awesome idea!! I will!

  9. Emma Spouse says:

    Absolutely delicious!! Thank you so much xo

    1. Cassandra says:

      My pleasure, Emma!

  10. Lenny says:

    10/10!! Thanks for sharing, all of your recipes are amazing 🙂

    1. Cassandra says:

      Thanks, Lenny! 🙂

  11. Heather B says:

    Hi! I was wondering.. I recently went paleo and am now experimenting with different recipes. I make my own pesto any time I need pesto, but instead of using pine nuts I use walnuts, can I do that with this recipe as well?? Have you tried other nuts?

    1. Cassy says:

      Hi Heather! Walnuts are a great substitute in this recipe!

  12. frey says:

    Hi Cassy

    I just made it now, and it tastes amazingly delicious. Wow. Thank you lots 🙂

    1. Cassy says:

      I’m so glad you liked it!

  13. Ashlee says:

    I just made a jar of this and used a couple of spoonfuls to top my barramundi, broccolini and pumpkin and holy crap it was amazing!! I have always loved pesto but gave it up and now I can enjoy it again! I love all your recipes!

    1. Cassy says:

      That sounds SO delicious! I’m so glad that you can enjoy pesto again! Thanks for the awesome feedback 🙂

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Can’t wait to try this! Can you tell me how you store it (freezer vs. fridge)? How long will it last in the fridge?

    1. Cassy says:

      Absolutely! I’ve stored it both ways before. In the fridge, it’ll last about 7 days. To store in the freezer, I’ll actually spoon it into ice cube molds to freeze, then transfer to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag for a couple months. That way, you can just grab the exact amount you need without defrosting the whole batch. Hope that helps!

  15. Sara says:

    This was my first go at homemade pesto, and wow! I’m in love. That’s so much!

    1. Kelly says:

      Homemade is so much better than the store bought varieties! So glad you liked it Sara!

  16. Kristina says:

    This looks so yummy! Haven’t made pesto in a very long time! You inspired me again! 🙂

    1. Kelly says:

      Homemade is the way to go! Hope you try it out and love it Kristina!

  17. nicki says:

    This looks great… is there another nut that we can use vs pine? Or can we get away without using nuts at all?

    1. Kelly says:

      Hi Nicki, you can try almonds or cashews. Just make sure you use a high powered blender or food processor. I would definitely use nuts though! Hope that helps!

  18. Madison says:

    I love this! One tip I have for roasting the garlic is to drizzle some EVOO and salt on top of the bulb before sealing the aluminum foil 🙂

    1. Kelly says:

      Great tip Madison! Thank you!

  19. Hi Cassy,

    That pesto looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it.

    Sadly, I noticed that someone used one of your photographs without linking back to your blog. I know this is an “old” blog post, but I cant help to find it very disturbing when people don’t give credit to the original source;

    xx Nadja

    1. Kelly says:

      Thank you for the heads up Nadja. I agree with people not giving credit. Bloggers work very hard on posting recipes and taking gorgeous pictures.

  20. laurie says:

    How come you don’t add the garlic as well…why just the juice? Cant wait to make this, thank you!

  21. Cheryl says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. This is my first time to try to make pesto and it taste wonderful but it is not as green as yours. I dipped my small sweet peppers in it for a snack and it delicious. I spread some on chicken breast and have it in the oven now, can’t wait to eat it. Thanks again for sharing

  22. Audrey says:

    This is delicious! First time making pesto and it came out amazing and so easy to make. I am very lactose intolerant so I was excited to find a recipe that didn’t have cheese!

  23. Deborah says:

    What is EVOO?

  24. Megan says:

    Not going to lie. I made this with the intention of adding Parmesan because it’s pesto and pesto and parm go together like pb and j. Well i made it and taste tested it. IT WAS DELICIOUS. Then i realized i didn’t even add the parm! You can’t even tell it’s missing. Another slam dunk from fed and fit!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Yay! So awesome, Megan! We’re so glad you enjoyed this recipe!

  25. David says:

    I have made this several times and it’s always delicious. I find the amount of roasting you do is important as the depth of garlic flavour changes. I Enjoy a well roasted flavour personally, let it really caramelise. Also the biggest thing I vary is adding double garlic (have been known to triple sometimes if I’m in the mood), I also start with a whole bunch of basil and work my way up from there to taste. It’s always best I find to let it sit overnight as that’s when the flavours do their magic and really come together!

    If there was a rating above 5 I would give it

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Thanks so much, David! These are great tips!!