How to Make Ramp Pesto | Bärlauch Pesto

Ramp pesto is a yummy twist on the classic Italian sauce, with a pungent, garlicky punch that will satisfy your tastebuds.

Ramps emerge from the forest floors in the early months of the year. I love finding them to make a green pesto with its garlicky freshness that adds a seasonal touch to many dishes.

Whether tossed with pasta, spread on crusty bread, or dolloped onto grilled meats, I am sure you will love this homemade pesto as much as we do for your spring recipes.

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Why You Will Love This Recipe

This recipe is for you whether you already are a fan of pesto or not. It is 

  • delicious
  • easy to make
  • great if you want to make a green pesto without basil
  • a flexible recipe
  • healthy with its bright green color
ramp pesto in bowl with spoon, garlic clove, and ramp leaves

What are ramps?

Wild ramps (Allium tricoccum) are part of the onion and leek family, with a unique garlicky flavor that sets them apart.

Recognizable by their long, slender green stalks, ramps often go by the names wild onion, wild garlic, or wild leeks. However, it’s crucial to be aware of their look-alikes when foraging. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with their distinct appearance can prevent any confusion.

Where to find them:

These perennial herbs pop up in the springtime and are indigenous to the Eastern United States and Canada. You can find them from late April to early June. While they typically thrive in moist, shady forested areas, it’s entirely possible to cultivate them in your own garden.

If you find ramps in the wild, it’s essential to harvest them sustainably. This involves cutting the stalks above the roots (white bulb), ensuring the plant can continue to thrive, and only gathering what you need.

If you are lucky, you can sometimes find ramp greens in grocery stores or at the farmer’s market on the East Coast during ramp season.

Visiting my brother in Northern Germany, they had ramps grow in their garden. In German it is called “Bärlauch”. However, it is a slightly different species than the North American ramp.

ramp plant growing out of soil

What are the ingredients:

For this basic recipe you only need:

  • Ramp leaves: This wild spring herb is the star of this ramp pesto recipe. 
  • Sunflower seeds: I chose these inexpensive seeds since they do stand up to the onion-like flavor in this pesto.
  • Garlic: I feel like garlic is an essential ingredient for any pesto.
  • Salt: A little bit of a high-quality sea salt enhances the flavor of any dish.
  • Parmesan cheese: The nutty saltiness of 
  • Olive oil: I love using extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil for this recipe
ramp leaves, garlic clove, sunflower seeds, olive oil, salt, and grated parmesan cheese in bowls

Useful tools and equipment

You really don’t need much to make this dish:

  • Sharp kitchen knife: This kitchen essential helps to chop the ramps and the garlic cloves.
  • Small blender: I personally love using a small blender.
  • Mortar and pestle: Using a mortar is the traditional Italian way of making pesto, especially if you don’t own a blender.  

Substitutions and variations

I love recipes that invite me to swap ingredients:

  • Wild ramps: If you can’t find ramps or you can find a lot, you can also try to find wild leeks. If you like the pungent flavor you can also add some spring onions, garlic scapes, or chives.
  • Seeds: While more expensive, you can use pine nuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or a combination of any of those. 
  • Cheese: As with traditional pesto recipes, I find parmesan cheese essential for the best flavor. You can also use a bit of pecorino romano or another hard cheese if you like.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is essential to not only the traditional basil pesto, you could also use sunflower oil, avocado oil, or add a bit of any neutral oil of your choice. 
  • Extra ingredients: Depending on your taste you might like to add a splash of lemon juice, lemon zest, nutritional yeast, black pepper, or green onions.

How to serve

Here are some serving suggestions for your wild ramp pesto: 

bowl of pasta with ramp pesto on top

How long does it last?

I always love making a big batch of this bright green pesto since I know it won’t last long in our house. Should you find yourself with some extra pesto, you can keep it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. I recommend making sure that the pesto is covered with a layer of olive oil.

If you would like your ramp pesto to last longer, you can spoon it into ice cube trays and freeze them. You can then remove the frozen cubes and keep them in a ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

Other recipes you might like

Dandelion pesto

Sourdough pasta

Olive oil sourdough bread

No-knead sourdough bread

Sourdough crackers

How to make this dish

You can easily make this simple recipe while your pasta is cooking or make it ahead of time:

  1. Rinse the fresh ramps and dry them thoroughly. If the leaves are very long or broad, I recommend chopping them coarsely.
  2. Add them to the bowl of a small blender with the garlic. Pulse until evenly chopped.
  3. Add the salt, sunflower seeds, and parmesan cheese and mix to blend. 
  4. Lastly, add the olive oil. If you’re making pest for the first time you might like to add half of the oil and see how you like it before adding more. 
  5. Serve immediately or save it for later.
ramp pesto in bowl with spoon, cooked noodles, and ramp leaves

Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Pin For Later: 

How To Make Ramp Pesto
ramp pesto in bowl next to garlic clove, ramp leaves, and spoon
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5 from 1 vote

Ramp Pesto

Ramp pesto is a delightful twist on the classic Italian sauce, with a pungent, garlicky punch that’s uniquely satisfying.
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 3 servings
Calories: 478kcal
Cost: $3


  • 1 big handful ramp leaves
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • cup sunflower seeds
  • cup parmesan, freshly grated
  • ½ cup olive oil


  • To a small blender, add ramp leaves and garlic. Pulse until evenly chopped.
  • Add the salt, sunflower seeds, and parmesan. Blend until combined.
  • Add the olive oil and blend again. Adjust the amount of salt, parmesan, and/or olive oil as you like.


  • you can also use the more expensive pine nuts or other nuts and seeds instead of sunflower seeds
  • feel free to add a splash of lemon juice, lemon zest, or other ingredients as you like


Calories: 478kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @ourgabledhome or tag #ourgabledhome!

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