Lemony Garlic Scape Pesto. The ONLY Pesto You Need.

Garlic scape pesto is the talk of the town and now you can actually buy garlic scapes at markets. So I thought it was about time to remind you about this swirly, magical offshoot of garlic.

A twirl of linguine dressed with garlic scape pesto on a black plate set on a rough wood table.

The year was 2013.  I had written a post about how to make garlic scape pesto, the best pesto you’ll ever eat.  The kind of pesto that will ruin you for regular pesto for the rest of your life. At that time garlic scapes were still a bit of an anomaly. The kind of thing weirdos and food hustlers were trying to get you to eat. 

Like corn smut. Which I was gullible enough to eat last summer when I found the fungus growing on my corn.

Back then, in 2013, Garlic scapes were what the underground cool kids were cooking.

Now garlic scapes have made their way to farmer’s markets and people actually know what they are even if they still aren’t quite sure what to do with them.

Coils of garlic scapes laid on a rough wood table, tied up with string. A black handled knife set off to the side.

I’ve tried scapes many ways including sautéed, grilled and as a fashion accessory.  But really the only thing you should do with them is make garlic scape pesto.  I make 3 or 4 batches of this, freeze it in ice cube trays and then throw them all into a big freezer bag and pull them out as I need them.

Garlic Scape Pesto on linguine in an antique ironstone bowl, topped with shavings of parmesan, basil leaves and a wedge of lemon.

To make garlic scape pesto you only need a few ingredients, and really only a few scapes.

10 scapes will get you a batch of pesto that will serve 8 people.


Side view of garlic scape pesto on linguine in an antique ironstone bowl. Topped with shaved parmesan, basil leaves and lemon.

Before I give you the recipe here’s a refresher of what a garlic scape is (a lot of people missed out on the entire year of 2013 on account of the Candy Crush addiction epidemic.)

What is a garlic scape?

  • A garlic scape is the round stem that grows out of the centre of the garlic plant in late June.
  • That stem eventually turns into the flower head of the garlic and will produce seeds.
  • Scapes need to be cut off of growing garlic to allow the garlic plant to push its energy towards growing the garlic bulb, not the garlic flower.
  •  They’re a delicacy that only comes once a year for a very short period of time.  Like fiddleheads or ramps.  Or a really funny Saturday Night Live skit.

This is a “brighter” version of pesto from the addition of lemon juice.  You can add more or less lemon juice as you like but the amount in the recipe below is the amount I use in all my batches.

Ingredients for garlic scape pesto laid out on rough wood table. Pine nuts in cast iron pan, lemon juicer and lemon, rasp with lemon zest, grated parmesan cheese in small black bowl, chopped scapes on small wood cutting board and full scapes swirling around.

You just whizz everything together in a blender or food processor and you’re done.

Bright green garlic scape pesto in blender. on a rough wood table with a squeezed lemon half off to the side and garlic scapes coil on the other side.

There’s no cooking.

No heating.

No nothing.

You blend, and then serve or freeze.  

Garlic Scape Pesto

A summery version of pesto made with garlic scapes and lemon juice.
4.5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8
Calories: 358kcal
Author: Karen


  • 1 cup rough chopped garlic scapes apx. 10 scapes
  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 lemon juice & zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium/low heat for a few minutes.  Toss them and turn them until they just start to brown.
  • Pulse first 7 ingredients in food processor or blender (everything but the oil) until everything is chopped up.
  • Slowly drizzle in oil with processor or blender running.
  • Serve over linguine. (you can heat your pesto in a pan first if you like)


If you want a brighter more citrusy pesto, use a whole lemon.
Leftover pesto can be frozen in an ice cube tray then transferred to a freezer bag and saved for a taste of summer in the middle of a frosty winter.
Pine nuts too expensive?  You can get a very similar result by substituting with walnuts. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 391mg | Potassium: 72mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 135IU | Vitamin C: 11.1mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 1mg

I do 3 things with this pesto: put it on linguine, give it away, and make pizza.  My killer recipe for pesto pizza will be coming soon. 

There isn’t much time left so if you want to make this head to a farmer’s market immediately or find someone who’s growing garlic and beg for a few scapes. Don’t give them the recipe though because they’ll never give you any scapes then.  They’ll keep them all for themselves.  That’s an insider tip right there.


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Lemony Garlic Scape Pesto. The ONLY Pesto You Need.


  1. Heidi says:

    I just made garlic scapes pesto using a (gasp!) different recipe, but the ingredients were nearly identical. However, the garlic flavor is overpowering. Almost to the point of it being inedible. I’m assuming my scapes we’re too old. You think??

    • Karen says:

      Hi Heidi. I’m not sure but I wouldn’t think so. Usually if the scapes are too old they end up being woody as opposed to a lot stronger. The only thing I can think of is you chopped up the garlic scapes quite small. This would mean you could pack more into a cup and therefore maybe used more scapes than you should have? I’m genuinely just guessing here though. :/ ~ karen!

      • Heidi says:

        Hmm. Maybe you’re right. I’m going to try to “dilute” it with some spinach so I don’t have to give it to my chickens.

  2. Della says:

    This is a great recipe, made it last year and now getting ready to make it again! The scapes are ready!!! Thanks Karen for sharing.

  3. Carol Halliwell says:

    I made this last year and subbed almonds for the pine nuts because that’s all I had and I just had to make it right there and then! This year I’ll try the walnuts. I did as Karen said and froze in ice cube trays. Used it on Pizza and with pasta. Delicious!

  4. Della says:

    Hi, first year growing garlic [actually planted it last fall] but my garlic scapes were only about 6 inches long. The time was right? So I cut The short scapes, maybe not grown long enough, and used them. Very good!! All gone! Now I’m thing it might be time to pull my garlic plants!!! Thanks again Karen.

  5. Ashleigh Barney says:

    A question. Do I use the white top of the scape or just the green part??

    • Karen says:

      Oop, sorry for the late reply. If the tops are very young and tender and haven’t begun to form flowers inside you can use those, but I normally just use the green part. ~ karen!

  6. Julie says:

    Ummm….wow! So I just made the recipe with the 150 garlic scapes from my parents’ place! I now have 6+ cups of pesto and it’s a darn good thing it’s yummy! That really hits different! I’ll try some on my pizza this weekend, too.

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