Vegan Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic scapes are delicious when grilled, and can also be added to soups and stir fries – but they are especially well-suited for making pesto 🙂

This vegan garlic scape pesto recipe can be made in less time than it takes to boil a pot of water! Most pestos are made with basil and parmesan cheese. This recipe calls for garlic scapes and is dairy-free.

Ways to Serve Pesto

In addition to serving on pasta, this (and all) pestos are wonderful on pizza, slathered on tomato slices, as a raw veggie dip or sandwich spread. Or use pesto as a garnish for soups, potatoes, and casseroles. In the photo below, gluten-free penne was tossed with this vegan garlic scape pesto, chopped tomatoes, and olives. The tomatoes and olives were first warmed in a bit of olive oil.

Vegan Garlic Scape Pesto over penne pasta
What are garlic scapes anyway?

In early June, the hardneck varieties of garlic send up stalks from the center of each plant. These are called garlic scapes; they are thicker than the leaves and are edible. The scape, if left on the plant, forms a flower and then seeds. Growers cut off the scapes so that the plants send all of their energy to the garlic bulbs, instead of putting energy towards the production of flowers and seeds.

My husband has been growing hardneck garlic and cutting off the scapes for many seasons. If you don’t grow your own, you may be able to find scapes at your local market. Spring is the time to look; don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy them! It’s well worth the effort since scapes are very tasty – they have a delightful mild garlic flavor. Plus they boast many of the nutritional benefits of garlic, including being a powerhouse of antioxidants and cancer fighting properties.

Garlic scapes growing in the garden
Garlic scapes growing from center of garlic plants

Method Overview

  • Cut garlic scapes
  • Steam the scapes (unless they are young and tender)
  • Toast pine nuts
  • Blend scapes, pine nuts, water, and seasonings in food processor
  • Stir in olive oil

Piles of fresh picked garden scapes
Fresh picked garlic scapes from our garden
Vegan Garlic Scape Pesto over penne pasta
Print Recipe
5 from 12 votes

Vegan Garlic Scape Pesto

This recipe makes 1 cup of pesto which is enough to dress 12 to 16 ounces of pasta.
Course: main course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: corn-free, gluten-free, grain-free, plant based, soy-free, vegan, wheat-free
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 228.25kcal


  • Food processor, preferably one with a small bowl (or blender/bullet blender – see note below)


  • 1 cup chopped garlic scapes, 10 to 15 scapes
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin or virgin


Prepare Scapes

  • Trim away the tip from each scape just below the flower bud (see photo below). Discard or save for making vegetable broth.
  • Cut the remaining scapes into 1-inch pieces.
  • Steam older scapes for about two minutes (see note below). Reserve the water to use in the recipe.

Toast Pine Nuts

  • Warm up a small, dry cast iron skillet (or other heavy-bottomed skillet) over medium-low heat. The idea is to warm up the skillet, but don’t overheat.
  • When the skillet is warm, increase the heat to medium-high and add the pine nuts. Toast, while stirring and shaking, for about a minute, or until they begin to give off a nutty aroma and turn a bit golden.

Prepare Pesto

  • Add the scapes, pine nuts, water, lemon juice, salt, and peppers to the food processor.
  • Process for a few minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl with a soft spatula as needed.
  • Using a soft spatula, scrape the pesto into a bowl. Fold or gently whisk the olive oil into the pesto until well combined.


  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can make this pesto in a blender or bullet blender – but you will have to stop blending every few seconds to scrape the jar or cup with a soft spatula.
  • Scapes develop a sharper flavor the longer they are left on the plant. Young and tender scapes are more mellow and even sweet. If you have young and tender scapes it isn’t necessary to steam them when making pesto.


Calories: 228.25kcal | Carbohydrates: 12.75g | Protein: 3.5g | Fat: 19.5g | Saturated Fat: 2.25g | Sodium: 154.25mg | Potassium: 50.25mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.74g | Vitamin A: 37IU | Vitamin C: 1.5mg | Calcium: 62.5mg | Iron: 0.75mg

Optional Omnivore Variation

Add pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese to the omnivore’s portion.

Fresh garden scapes with tips cut off

Trim away the tip from each scape just below the flower bud.

If you enjoy this recipe, you may also like my Vegan Nut-Free Pesto and my Oil-Free Vegan Pesto.


  • Anonymous
    June 29, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    5 stars
    This turned out great! I’ve been making garlic scape pesto for years, but always with cheese. I’ve been trying to eat more vegan meals, so was happy to find this recipe. I feel it was just as good or better than previous recipes I’ve made with dairy I now them. Thank you!

  • Judy DeLorenzo
    June 29, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    I’m so happy to hear! What a great compliment – thank you 🙂

  • Anonymous
    August 6, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    5 stars
    It was so good! I added 2tbsp nutritional yeast and fried the cut up scapes in with the pine nuts once they got toasty a bit. Delicious, it’s a keeper!

    • Judy DeLorenzo
      August 8, 2021 at 10:06 am

      So glad you enjoyed it. It’s also good without the nutritional yeast 🙂


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