Stinging Nettle Pesto – {How to make Stinging Nettle Pesto Recipe}

If you are a fan of versatile, creamy and herbaceous sauces, this Stinging Nettle Pesto is definitely the one for you!

The purpose of this image is to illustrate freshly made stinging nettle pesto.
Freshly made wild stinging nettle pesto, stored in a open glass jar with a silver spoon inside.

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Why you’ll love this recipe

  • It is nutritious. Stinging Nettle Leaves are rich in a variety of nutrients including, Vitamin  A, C, K, calcium, iron, protein plus many more minerals which are beneficial to your health. 
  • This recipe is fuss-free! You blanche the stinging nettle in a boiling pot. Then throw all the ingredients into a blender. Blend the stinging nettle until your desired texture is reached and you are done!
  • This stinging nettle pesto is versatile. You use it in soups, sandwiches, on pizza, as a pasta dressing and even as a marinade.
  • Stinging nettles are sustainable as they come from foraged sources. It’s a vegetable from the wild, not from the supermarket.
  • Stinging nettles are seasonal. Firstly, you can make this recipe when the stinging nettle is in season. Eating food when it’s in season and sourced locally is one of the best ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your food. This is because, by eating in season you are getting the freshest, tastiest produce with the lowest impact on our planet.. 

Recipe Overview

Flavour profile: Perfectly balanced. It has the vibrant and herbaceous flavour of basil. With a creamy texture from the Parmigiano Reggiano and extra virgin olive oil. It has rich and earthy tones of pine nuts. This stinging nettle pesto is super scrumptious and makes for a memorable taste. 

Difficulty: Easy Peasy! Anyone in any part of the world can make it. Why? The formulation requires two main steps; blanching, and blending. Blanche the stinging nettle leaves in a large boiling pot. After this, throw all the ingredients in a blender. Pulse until you reach your desired consistency and you are done. 

Time: From blanching to serving, this recipe takes less than 10 minutes. 

How to pick stinging nettle

Picking stinging nettle is super easy. Please take extra care by dressing up to avoid being stung. Here are quick some tips on how to pick stinging nettle safely: 

  • Dress for the occasion. Wear a long sleeved top that you can tuck into some tough rubber gloves. This way your skin will not come into contact with the stinging nettle. 
  • Use a scissors to cut the stinging nettle and transport it home in a secure food container. 
  • Pick young leaves. It is best to harvest nettle is when its leaves are tender, because young leaves have a superior flavour to older leaves as older leaves tend to be more bitter. Older leaves tend to be darker in colour and larger. While younger leaves are lighter in colour and smaller. 
  • Always use stinging nettle leaves on the same day you pick them. Why? Stinging nettle leaves are notorious for drying up quickly. The fresher, the better. 
An image showing the difference between older and younger stinging nettle leaves. The older leaves are the darker ones. The younger leaves are smaller and lighter in colour.

How to prepare stinging nettle for eating

To prepare stinging nettle for eating, the first step is usually to remove the sting. To do this you:

  • Take a large boiling pot. Pour some boiled salted water into it. 
  • Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the stinging nettle leaves and blanche for 1 minute. Try not to blanche for too long as the stinging nettle leaves will wilt too much.
  • Using tongs, lay the blanched stinging nettles over a plate covered with paper towels. Pat dry to remove excess water. They are now ready for use. 


The purpose of this image is to illustrate the ingredients requires to make stinging nettle pesto.
  • Water – H2O
  • Stinging Nettle Leaves – Use freshly picked stinging nettle leaves that are young. 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – use an olive oil which has a mild flavour and is also of a good quality. Stronger flavoured olive oils can overpower this recipe. 
  • Pine Nuts – purchase in small quantities. 
  • Garlic Cloves – Use fresh garlic, free from any brown spots. 
  • Parmigiano Reggiano – you can substitute this with good old parmesan cheese or soy parmesan. 
  • Basil Leaves – Use fresh leaves, not dry. 
  • Sea Salt – This will enhance the flavour of the pesto. Use sparingly as too much will make the pesto too bitter. 
  • Freshly Cracked Black Pepper – Make it a bit coarse. Avoid using powdered black pepper.



  • Once the stinging nettle leaves are blanched, Using a blender or food processor, place all the ingredients in the blender. Pulse a few times until the desired consistency and texture is reached. Adjust the amount of sea salt and freshly black ground pepper to taste.
  • Serve! Stinging Nettle Pesto tastes delicious when coated on pasta.
To illustrate a recipe of Stinging Nettle Pasta
Delicious pasta coated in Wild Stinging Nettle Pesto by

FAQ’s about this recipe

How long does this stinging nettle pesto keep for?

This stinging nettle pesto will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Make sure you keep it in an airtight container and keep it cool.

Is this Wild Stinging Nettle Pesto vegan? 

A vegan version of this can be made by omitting the  Parmigiano Reggiano and substituting it with cashew parmesan. Always read your labels to make sure your ingredients are vegan-friendly!

Stinging Nettle Pesto Recipe

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The purpose of this image is to illustrate freshly made stinging nettle pesto.

Wild Stinging Nettle Pesto with Parmigiano Reggiano

  • Author: Lisa at The Savourista
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 10
  • Yield: 1 1x
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Blend
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Made from wild foraged stinging nettle leaves, this Wild Stinging Nettle Pesto is a delicious alternative to traditional Italian pesto. Rich and comforting to the palate, this pesto can be used on a variety of dishes including pasta, fish and pizza. 


Units Scale
  • 400mlWater
  • 200gStinging Nettle Leaves
  • 1/2 cupExtra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cupPine Nuts
  • 2Cloves of Garlic
  • 1/2 cupParmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 cupFresh Basil Leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoonFreshly Cracked Black Pepper


  1. Blanche the Stinging Nettle. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the stinging nettle leaves and blanch for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and drain the water from the pot. Lay the blanched stinging nettles over a plate covered with paper towels. Pat dry to remove excess water. 
  2. Blend all the ingredients together. Using a blender or food processer, place all the ingredients in the blender, pulse a few times until the desired consistency and texture is reached. Adjust the amount of sea salt and freshly black ground pepper to taste. 
  3. Serve with fresh pasta or store in a glass jar and refrigerate for later.


  1. When making this recipe, it is ideal to use foraged wild stinging nettle which has been gathered not too close to public pavements or paths. 
  2. Pick stinging nettle leaves that are young and tender as these offer a fresher taste and a greater texture. It’s also important to note that such leaves tend to be cleaner than older leaves. 
  3. When blending or processing the ingredients, have a silicone spatula handy as you may need to scrape down the sides to ensure all ingredients are blended. 

Keywords: stinging nettle pesto, recipe, stinging nettle,

Happy cooking friends. With love,

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