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Lemon Caper Pesto in a white bowl on yellow plate

Lemon Caper Pesto

Lemon Caper Pesto is a very unique twist on classic pesto. It's delicious on pasta, with fish and poultry, and served as a dip for an appetizer.

*Makes about 1½ cups

Course Condiments, Sauces, Dressings and Vinaigrettes
Cuisine Italian, American
Keyword pesto without basil, unique pesto recipes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12
Author Valentina K. Wein


  • 1 cup lemon rind (from about 1¼ pounds lemons)
  • ½ cup capers, drained
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • tablespoons garlic, peeled, roots removed, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Remove the rind from approximately 1¼ pounds of lemons using a vegetable peeler. Try not to go too deep — you don’t want too much of the white pith, as it's quite bitter.

  2. Place the peels in a small saucepan and add enough water to cover the peels by about an inch. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  Immediately drain the peels and repeat this process one more time. Rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

  3. In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, blend the lemon peels with the capers, toasted pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, dill, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Once the mixture is as smooth as you can get it, add oil slowly and blend until it's fully incorporated.