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Sour Sorrel Pesto

Got lots of sour sorrel? Make this easy Sorrel Pesto! It's a flavorful, vibrant, garlicky, lemony, and bold. This is a great sauce or condiment to have on hand and can be used anywhere you would use regular pesto.

If you've been wondering what to make with sorrel leaves, then give this sorrel recipe a try!

Container of sorrel pesto with baguettes and garnishes next to it.

Please note: there is a Jamaican hibiscus drink, sometimes called sorrel. This is not the recipe for that. If you've got hibiscus flowers and want to find a recipe for those, try this hibiscus lemonade.

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What does sorrel pesto taste like?

Sorrel sorrel leaves have a sour lemony flavor when you chew them. The pesto itself has more of a grassy flavor than traditional basil pesto. If you've ever made garlic mustard pesto or kale pesto, then you'll know what I am talking about. If the grassy flavor bothers you, you can substitute half the sorrel leaves with basil or spinach. Basil makes the most difference, spinach just makes it slightly less strong.

Personally, I love the bold flavor of sorrel in this pesto. I feel like the sorrel leaves pair will with salty, nutty Parmesan and fresh garlic. The lemon juice in the pesto highlights the lemony flavor of sorrel. 

Piece of baguette with sorrel pesto spread on top

Where to find sorrel leaves

Sour leaf sorrel looks somewhat similar to spinach and has a distinctive arrow-shaped leaves that have kind of like a spiky shape at the base where the leaf meets the stem. Sorrel is not commonly sold in grocery stores, but you can find it at some farmer's markets or in CSA deliveries. But don't worry if you can't find where to buy it. Luckily, it's also VERY easy to grow!! I have mine growing outside in NJ as a perennial that just keeps on giving. I also grow some in my hydroponic garden (I have this one) and it grows like crazy! I get my seeds from dollarseed.com and 2 seeds is all I need to grow plants big enough to make a batch of sorrel pesto.

If you happen to go foraging for sorrel leaves, please be REALLY sure about plant identification and go with a local guide who can rule out any lookalikes and help you make sure you're picking the correct leaves.

Fork picking up some pasta with sour leaf pesto sauce

How to use sorrel pesto

Sorrel pesto can be used just like regular pesto. Try it:

Ingredients

This recipe makes about ¾ cups pesto. It can be doubled if you like.

  • 1 cup fresh sorrel leaves, tightly packed (you can add fresh basil or baby spinach if you want to switch up the flavor or don't have enough sorrel leaves)
  • ¼ cup olive oil (or more, if you want a thinner pesto sauce)
  • ¼ cup unsalted cashews (or use pine nuts, but cashews give this pesto a nice texture and are much more affordable)
  • ¼ cup cubed Parmesan cheese (I like to use small cubes I chop up instead of pre-grated cheese, but freshly grated Parmesan is also fine to use. Skipping the Parmesan is also fine if you want to make a vegan or vegetarian pesto.)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (you can also add a little lemon zest, if you want a stronger lemony flavor without the sourness)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste (start with just ¼ teaspoon, especially if you are using Parmesan, which adds salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Ingredients to make sour leaf pesto

Equipment

Instructions

Add all the ingredients EXCEPT for the olive oil to the food processor and pulse until it's crumbly. 

Collage of 2 photos for sorrel leaves and pesto ingredients in a food proccesor

Add the olive oil and process until the pesto is as smooth as you like. I like to leave a little texture. Give it a taste and see if it needs more salt or lemon juice. If it's too thick, add a bit more olive oil. 

Sorrel pesto in a food processor

Use immediately, or transfer to a jar or tupperware container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Plate of sorrel pesto pasta with garnishes on the side

Freezing pesto

You can also freeze leftover pesto—I recommend freezing in an ice cube trays and then transferring the cubes to a freezer bag. This way you can take out as much as you need and thaw it in small portions.

Another way to freeze pesto is to transfer to a freezer bag, then zip it up removing as much air as possible. Lay it flat and try to spread the pesto in an even layer. Freeze it flat, then you can break off as much as you need. I don't like this way as much because the zip lock bag often breaks as you're cracking the frozen pesto. 

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Jar of sour leaf sorrel pesto with baguettes and garnishes around it
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Sorrel Pesto

Use lemony sorrel leaves to make sorrel pesto! It's vibrant, flavorful, garlicky, lemony. Use this pesto like you would regular pesto. This recipe makes about ¾ cup pesto and can be doubled.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Condiments
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Servings: 6
Author: Kate

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh sour leaf sorrel leaves - tightly packed (substitute with some fresh basil or baby spinach if don't have enough sorrel)
  • ¼ cup olive oil - (or more, if you want a thinner pesto sauce)
  • ¼ cup unsalted cashews - (or use pine nuts)
  • ¼ cup cubed Parmesan cheese - (fresh grate Parmesan can be used too)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice - (you can also add lemon zest)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt - (or more, to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper - to taste

Special equipment

Instructions

  • Add all the ingredients EXCEPT for the olive oil to the food processor and pulse until it's crumbly and mixed together.
  • Add the olive oil and process until the pesto is as smooth as you like. I like to leave a little texture. Give it a taste and see if it needs more salt or lemon juice. If it's too thick, add a bit more olive oil.
  • Use immediately, or transfer to a jar or tupperware container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

The nutrition facts are estimated assuming a 2-tablespoon serving, but the actual nutrition will vary depending on the exact ingredients and amounts you use.

Nutrition

Calories: 128kcal (6%) | Carbohydrates: 2g (1%) | Protein: 3g (6%) | Fat: 12g (18%) | Saturated Fat: 2g (10%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 3mg (1%) | Sodium: 169mg (7%) | Potassium: 72mg (2%) | Fiber: 0.3g (1%) | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 502IU (10%) | Vitamin C: 3mg (4%) | Calcium: 57mg (6%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)

The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.

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