Lemongrass Pesto

Because I grew lemongrass in my garden this year, I’ve been focusing on using it as much as possible in Thai as well as non-Thai dishes. This lemongrass seems mild to me, but it has a lemony flavor, and I’m determined to use it all up.

Last night I dreamed about using lemongrass to make a pesto. (I can’t be the only person who gets foodie inspirations while sleeeping!) Of course, I’m using the term pesto in the loosest way. It contains nuts and herbs, but I changed things up a bit.

To keep with the Asian theme by including lemongrass, I also used ginger and garlic. Then, I used basil, cilantro and chile peppers*. The nuts? Pine nuts. They’re used in Asian cuisines, so I’m still keeping with the theme!


If I did invent this stuff, I can die happy. And I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything similar on blogs or in cookbooks. But it is so good I plan on making a lot of it and sharing.

If I had any reservations about this pesto, it was that the ginger, being raw, might taste too strong. But fortunately, it didn’t.

The resulting pesto-looking mixture was fabulous on this butternut squash soup – almost like how a gremolata perks things up a bit. But the pesto would be great smeared on chicken breasts, pork, even fish. The possibilities for using it are endless. Here’s what I did.

Lemongrass Pesto

Pine nuts, toasted
Garlic cloves, peeled
Ginger, peeled
Lemongrass bulbs, peeled and trimmed
Chile peppers (mine were mild)
Olive oil

Place the toasted pine nuts in a blender jar.

Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chile peppers.

Add olive oil until it covers the ingredients.

Blend until smooth.

Add the cilantro and basil and blend again.

Store in the refrigerator, or freeze until later use.


Since originally making this pesto and writing the post, I have had salmon topped with this pesto. And it was fabulous!!!

* The chile peppers I used were Nardello peppers. They’re not very hot, but add good flavor.

By Published On: September 18th, 201441 Comments on Lemongrass Pesto

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. thesinglegourmetandtraveller September 18, 2014 at 8:05 AM - Reply

    What a brilliant way of using your lemongrass. And I can imagine it was really delicious on salmon.

    • chef mimi September 18, 2014 at 9:05 AM - Reply

      It really was. I cooked the salmon separately, in a little butter, and just slathered the raw pesto over the top. Incredible.

  2. Linda Duffin September 18, 2014 at 8:25 AM - Reply

    That does sound wonderful, I’ll be giving that a go.

  3. lapadia September 18, 2014 at 9:02 AM - Reply

    Sounds divine! I’ve topped salmon with basil pesto and I’ve no doubt your lemon grass would be as good or even better!

    • chef mimi September 18, 2014 at 9:04 AM - Reply

      I can’t tell you how incredible it was. I’m making more today!

  4. sallybr September 18, 2014 at 9:58 AM - Reply

    Absolutely wonderful! I can imagine the taste… I am a huge fan of lemongrass

    (I am on a trip at the moment and keeping up with blogs has been iffy, but here I am for a quick hello!)

    • chef mimi September 18, 2014 at 2:10 PM - Reply

      Hello back! Maybe when you’re back the weather will have cooled down!

  5. chefceaser September 18, 2014 at 11:17 AM - Reply

    Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser.

  6. cheri September 18, 2014 at 11:49 AM - Reply

    I bet this was perfect on the salmon, very clever, love the color of it too!

  7. Michelle September 18, 2014 at 9:17 PM - Reply

    What a great idea!

    • chef mimi September 19, 2014 at 7:54 AM - Reply

      I know! Hahahahaha I really am not an innovative cook. I’m more about using what’s in the frig to make meals. But the lemongrass made me think a little harder!

  8. Kristi September 18, 2014 at 9:35 PM - Reply

    I’ve never heard of Lemongrass Pesto Mimi! What a unique and amazing sounding idea! I love it! Kristi @ Inspiration Kitchen

    • chef mimi September 19, 2014 at 7:55 AM - Reply

      Thanks! I’m going to try it on white fish next. whatever I can find here…

  9. Abbe Odenwalder September 19, 2014 at 12:08 AM - Reply

    You can die happy! This sounds fabulous. Next time l go to the Asian market l am going to buy a lot of lemongrass.

    • chef mimi September 19, 2014 at 7:55 AM - Reply

      Hahaha! I was pretty proud of myself!!!

  10. Jody and Ken September 19, 2014 at 7:52 AM - Reply

    Great idea! (And excellent choice to leave the cheese out too.) Ken

    • chef mimi September 19, 2014 at 7:57 AM - Reply

      Funny, I never thought about cheese, but you’re right. When I make pesto, I always omit the cheese because I freeze it. Someone told me the cheese doesn’t freeze well, and I believed her. Besides, it cuts back on the volume of the pesto, and I really love adding the cheese myself when I make an actual dish. I’ll keep doing it this way!

  11. The Healthy Epicurean September 19, 2014 at 9:40 AM - Reply

    What an inspired combination! Absolutely love the sound of it – one to try!

    • chef mimi September 20, 2014 at 9:28 AM - Reply

      Thanks! I must say, it’s pretty wonderful!

  12. StefanGourmet September 19, 2014 at 11:12 AM - Reply

    This is almost like a Thai chili paste that can be eaten raw – very interesting! Perhaps I’ll try it with peanuts and Thai basil…

  13. katiebonken September 21, 2014 at 1:07 AM - Reply

    Ingenious! I’d love this with noodles, but can imagine salmon being superb with it too, thanks for this idea!

    • chef mimi September 21, 2014 at 7:22 AM - Reply

      I think it could go on just about anything – it’s that good!

  14. DellaCucinaPovera September 21, 2014 at 10:35 AM - Reply

    Ohh! I love the idea of this. Did you use it as spread? On pasta?

    • chef mimi September 21, 2014 at 11:05 AM - Reply

      I used it in the soup, and spread it on baked salmon, but I can see it being used how pesto is used, although it contains no cheese. Spread on pizza, mixed with mayo, and definitely tossed with pasta.

  15. Kiki September 21, 2014 at 11:11 AM - Reply

    That sounds fantastic! I had planned on making a pesto with peanuts and “something green” plus a herb or spice but really couldn’t come up with anything good. I think I’ll give it a try with lemongrass.

    • chef mimi September 21, 2014 at 5:20 PM - Reply

      It was really nice with the ginger and garlic!!!

  16. Caroline Taylor (@AllThatImEating) September 21, 2014 at 11:32 AM - Reply

    Love the sound of this, not tried lemongrass like that before.

    • chef mimi September 21, 2014 at 5:20 PM - Reply

      I’m not usually that creative of a cook, but boy was I pleased with the results!

  17. love in the kitchen September 21, 2014 at 9:14 PM - Reply

    Wow Mimi – this sounds so wonderful. I love lemongrass. Am so impressed you grew it – I wonder if I can grow it in Ontario with our short growing season. I will investigate. When I lived in Australia I was addicted to a lemongrass pate sold in one of the local delis. And as for dreaming of recipes – that is brilliant.

  18. dianeskitchentable September 21, 2014 at 9:23 PM - Reply

    Interesting idea and its funny because as I was reading I thought to myself, I bet this would be good on salmon. Glad to hear its a winner.

  19. anotherfoodieblogger September 21, 2014 at 9:36 PM - Reply

    Another genius use of lemongrass! Since you planned on making it again, it’s a sure winner!

  20. Choc Chip Uru September 22, 2014 at 1:16 AM - Reply

    I am a big fan of lemongrass now, ever since I have been getting smoothies with it :D
    Delicious use in pesto!

    Choc Chip Uru

  21. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen September 22, 2014 at 7:41 AM - Reply

    What flavours you have in your pesto! I have been trying to add some seasoning to otherwise healthy (read boring) pieces of chicken and fish without adding extra calories with heavy sauces. This would be just the recipe to do that:D How much of each did you use.. for eg.. the lemongrass stalks??

    • chef mimi September 22, 2014 at 7:50 AM - Reply

      I left the ingredient amounts random because I thought it might be about personal preference, but I used pretty much what you see in the one photo. I think. Probably about 8 cloves of garlic, about a 2″ piece of ginger, and about 4 bulbs of lemongrass. 2 mild chile peppers, a bunch of cilantro, without the stems, and a lesser amountof basil leaves. It was pretty amazing!!!

  22. sakinah30 October 2, 2014 at 11:47 AM - Reply

    Reblogged this on Cappuccino.

  23. Anonymous December 18, 2023 at 4:44 AM - Reply

    working the recipe with our tea-lemongrass from the garden in The Wilderness Bohol Philippines, capsicum, chili-garlic oil, fresh basil and majoran plus tahini to the olive oil, thank you for the good idea :-)

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