Hands-down, my favourite way to eat olives, this olive pesto made from kalamata olives and just 5 other ingredients requires no cooking – just something to spread it on.

If you love pesto recipes like I do, you love this homemade basil pesto and sun-dried tomato pesto too.

A white bowl filled with olive pesto. A bowl of olives and toasted bread nearby

Olive pesto is just as versatile as other varieties – great with everything from a sandwich to pasta. You can use this the same way you’d use basil pesto.

I’m not a lover of olives and have only just started ‘not minding’ them on pizza, but I found myself with an abundance of kalamata olives (long story), so I needed a way to use them.

I could eat this pesto on the daily if I had it on hand – it’s that good – so if you think you don’t like olives, it’s still worth trying this.

What you’ll need

Just 6 ingredients is all you need for the pesto, then whatever you want to spread it on or mix it through.

A food processor bowl filled with ingredients for olive pesto
  • Olives (2): This recipes uses kalamata but you can use any you prefer and even a combination.
  • Parsley (4): As with many pestos, this one uses a large portion of herbs – parsley works best.
  • Parmesan (1): This gives a real depth of flavour and creaminess. You can actually swap this for a good strong vintage cheddar too.   
  • Garlic (3): The garlic provides more umami again and really balances the flavour.
  • Almonds (5): While my basil pesto uses pine nuts and you can here too, I like the slightly lighter flavour of almonds in this one.   
  • Olive Oil: Use a light extra virgin olive oil for this. You already have the bold olive flavour and it’s best not to overcomplicate it.

Notice anything missing? You shouldn’t need to add salt to this. Parmesan is already very salty and most olives are packed in a salty brine. Taste the pesto, then add a little salt if needed.

Important! If your olives are particularly salty on their own (often the marinated variety that are ready to serve have additional salt) make sure to rinse them first or your pesto will be too salty. You can always add salt but you can’t take it away.

A spoon with pesto hovering over a white bowl. Brad to the side.

How to make it

Here’s the great part. Because it so quick and easy and can be served as soon as it’s made, you could literally be making this as your guests arrive.

Of course you can make it ahead of time too, keeping it store in little preserving jars with a layer of oil on top.

  1. Place everything but the olive oil in a food processor and blitz to small pieces.
  2. With the food processor running on the low setting, gradually pour in the olive oil.

Done deal – now just find something to serve it with.

A grey bowl filled with pasta with olives on top.

Uses for olive pesto

  • Perfect on a grazing platter with some toasted crostini or crackers
  • Stir it through pasta – like in these photos or in this chicken basil pesto pasta
  • Spread it on pizza or flatbread as a base.
  • Inside calzone just like my chicken pesto calzone
  • Add it to salad dressings
  • As a sandwich spread
  • Add some sour cream and cream cheese for a delicious dip
  • Add it bread dough before you bake
  • Served on top of soup – it’d be great on this roasted garlic and potato chowder

How to store pesto

Store pesto in the fridge in airtight preserving jars with a layer of oil on top for 4-5 days. I like these little Weck preserving jars.

Olive pesto can also be frozen, so if you don’t get through it all, fill ice cube trays with it, freeze until frozen then pop them out and into an airtight bag for up to 3 months.

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A white bowl filled with olive pesto. A bowl of olives and toasted bread nearby
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A spoon with pesto hovering over a white bowl. Brad to the side.

Olive Pesto

5 from 1 vote
With just 6 ingredients, 5 minutes and a food processor, this olive pesto is easy and delicious. Perfect with crostini as an appetiser recipe, it’s also wonderful mixed through pasta.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves (25g / 0.9oz)
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, lightly packed (notes)
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan (35g / 1.2oz)
  • ¼ cup flakes almonds
  • cup light extra virgin olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Place the olives, parsley, garlic, parmesan and almonds into a food processor and blitz until quite fine.
  • With the processor on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until all combined.
  • Check the texture and blitz to the smoothness you desire.

Notes

  1. Many olives are stored in a salty brine. If you are buying marinated olives that are ready to serve, the may add too much salt to the pesto. Taste the olives first, if they taste salty on their own, rinse them first to remove some salt. Remember, you can always add salt at the end but you can’t take it away.  
  2. The finer you process the pesto, the easier it is to spread.
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A white bowl filled with olive pesto.