Pumpkin Cilantro Pesto Sauce

Pesto is one of those things that I can put on pretty much anything {like hot sauce}… and I do. Serve it drizzled over roasted fall vegetables, with your favorite protein (like crispy salmon!), or whole grains. It’s even delicious on a baked potato or toast, and I’ve been known to add it to eggs before scrambling. You may be thinking of pasta, so hopefully this has opened your eyes to the possibilities!

cilantro pumpkin pesto

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market, with whom I will be showcasing this recipe. Ingredients may be purchased at any store to make on your own, and all opinions are mine!

Since I’m sure some of you are getting hung up on “cilantro” and “pesto”, let’s address that. “Pesto” may be traditionally made with garlic, pine nuts and basil, but it generically means anything made by pounding or crushing. Like me, most of you don’t have the time to make your pesto with a mortar and pestle, so another variation here is in using a food processor. If you have time for the hand crushing, go for it!

I have a few pesto recipes up already, but after trying a pumpkin pesto with a dish at True Food Kitchen and seeing it on the menu at Harvest, I had to give it a go on my own. When browsing for inspiration, I was surprised that I didn’t find any using pumpkin purée – just the seeds. So, between the cilantro, pumpkin purée and hemp seeds, we have quite a unique and delicious sauce on our hands!

Cilantro Hemp Seed Pumpkin Pesto

Hemp hearts are one of my favorite ingredients. They can add great texture to anything (pancakes, oats, salads, veggies, pizza, you name it), but also provide a good boost of healthy fats, protein, fiber and iron. Great as an anti-inflammatory boost for intense exercisers.

pumpkin hemp pesto

If you’re in the Philadelphia area, I’ll be demoing this recipe, plus my 3 bean sweet potato chili and sweet potato hummus this Wednesday, October 17 at 5:30 PM at the brand new Sprouts! You’ll get to try samples of everything I make and leave with a reusable bag, Sprouts brand flax seeds, a hemp heart sample from Manitoba Harvest, and a coupon for a surprise product. I’ll be sharing nutrition tips and there will be gift card giveaways!

What’s your favorite use for pesto or how would you use this one?

Pumpkin Cilantro Pesto Sauce

Dairy free, nut free

cilantro hemp seed pesto


  • 2 C cilantro, end of stems removed
  • 1/3 C hemp hearts
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2-4 Tbsp hemp or avocado oil
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C Sprouts pumpkin purée
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice


  • Add all ingredients to a food processor or high quality blender. *
  • Pulse until mixture is well incorporated and creamy, around 45-60 seconds.
  • Serve as a sauce, dip, or use as a marinade. Can be stored in the refrigerator up to one week.

*Note: this recipe was successful in both my 4 cup and 10 cup cuisinart food processors. I have not yet tried it in my Vitamix or bullet blender. If making in a new large Vitamix container, I recommend doubling the recipe based on feedback on other pesto recipes. Please comment on success with different food processors and blenders!

6 thoughts on “Pumpkin Cilantro Pesto Sauce

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