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Zesty Garlic Scape Pesto | Easy Recipe for Using Scapes

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This zesty garlic scape pesto is the perfect way to put those scapes to use and add flavor to every meal! It comes together in just a few minutes and is sure to make a variety of dishes all the more tasty.

a jar of garlic scape pesto

Garlic scape season is one I look forward to each year. Not only does it signal the beginning of summer, but I get to combine my garlic scapes and fresh herbs in a variety of delicious, flavorful dishes.

It’s the best season, hands down.

One of my favorite recipes to make with the bounty of garlic scapes is this easy garlic scape pesto. 

If you love classic basil pesto, you will love this garlic scape pesto recipe! It is a great way to put those garlic scapes to good use in a sauce that will last for many meals. 

What is a Garlic Scape?

A garlic scape is the stalk and flower bud of a hardneck garlic plant. The scape typically emerges in late spring or early summer and is harvested before the flower blooms. This is so the plant can put its energy into producing a larger garlic bulb rather than a flower. 

The garlic scapes are edible and are highly sought-after as a seasonal delight. They have a mild garlic flavor and can be cooked into a tender, asparagus-like vegetable. Garlic scapes make a delicious addition to soups, salads, and stir fries and they are wonderful when simply sauteed or grilled.

a basket of garlic scapes

Ingredients in Garlic Scape Pesto

  • Fresh garlic scapes are the main ingredient in this pesto. They give the sauce an intense garlicky flavor without the spiciness that garlic cloves have.
  • Extra virgin olive oil makes for a creamy, smooth pesto sauce. Be sure to use a good quality olive oil to avoid any bitterness in your pesto.
  • Parmesan cheese adds a salty, cheesy flavor to the pesto.
  • Lemon juice adds some acidity and tanginess to the pesto. The lemon should not be skipped; it brings this pesto to a whole new level.
  • Nuts add a buttery, nutty flavor to pesto and contribute to a chunkier texture. Pine nuts are traditional in pesto alla Genovese (basil pesto) and add a delicious, buttery note to the pesto. They can be quite pricey, so I frequently use toasted almonds or walnuts instead.
  • Red pepper flakes add just a bit of spice to pesto and make the flavor more complex. If you like things mild, feel free to omit them.

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Recipe Tips

  • Pine nuts can be very pricey. If you want to substitute something cheaper, you can use walnuts, almonds, or sunflower seeds. Be sure to dry toast them in a pan over medium heat to give them a more buttery flavor.
  • Use good quality olive oil; it makes a big difference.
  • Add other fresh herbs to give it extra flavor! I love making it as written, but it’s also fun to add basil to make an extra-garlicky basil pesto.
  • A little goes a long way when eating this pesto. It is intensely garlicky, so use it in moderation.
A jar of garlic scape pesto with a garlic scape and cheese on the counter around it

How to Use Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic scape pesto can be used in all of the same ways you use regular pesto. Sandwiches, pasta, pizza, salad dressings, and more are delicious with garlic scape pesto. Here are just a few great recipes in which to use garlic scape pesto:

My personal favorite way to use this pesto sauce is on garlic bread. It’s the perfect way to add that garlicky bite with more flavor than plain garlic.

A jar of garlic scape pesto

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this recipe vegan?

Yes, making garlic scape pesto vegan is very easy! Simply substitute the parmesan cheese with vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast. Alternatively, you can omit the cheese altogether.

Can I freeze garlic scape pesto?

Garlic scape pesto freezes very well for use at a later date. I recommend freezing it in small portions, such as small freezer bags or ice cube trays. A little bit of this pesto goes a long way and you don’t want to thaw an entire jar when you just need a teaspoon or two. 

If you freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, be sure to remove the cubes from the tray and store them in an airtight container so the pesto stays fresh.

Where do I get garlic scapes?

If you aren’t growing your own garlic, you can find garlic scapes at a local farmer’s market, in CSA shares, and at co-ops. They are typically for sale sometime between May and July, but it’s best to ask your local farmer when they expect the scapes to be ready.

How can I make this less garlicky?

If the strong garlic flavor is not your forte, you can cut back the amount of garlic scapes in this recipe and add some fresh basil instead. That way, you’ll still have the delicious garlic scape flavor but it will be more balanced with the sweetness of the basil.

More on Garlic Scapes

If you are like me and want to immerse yourself in garlic scape season, check out these recipes and tips for enjoying all things scapes:

a jar of garlic scape pesto

Zesty Garlic Scape Pesto

Yield: About 8 ounces
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This zesty garlic scape pesto is the perfect way to put those scapes to use and add flavor to every meal! It comes together in just a few minutes and is sure to make a variety of dishes all the more tasty.


  • 1 cup garlic scapes, chopped roughly
  • ¼ cup toasted nuts (I use pine nuts or almonds)
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more to adjust consistency
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Begin by washing and removing the top of the garlic scapes. 
  2. Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor or a blender. 
  3. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped, then begin adding your olive oil.
  4. Add olive oil until it forms a smooth sauce, being careful not to over-process the pesto.
  5. Transfer to a small jar using a rubber spatula and store in the fridge.
text that reads "garlic scape pesto" and a jar of garlic scape pesto

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