Harvest Recipes

How to Make Hibiscus Sabdariffa Pesto

hibiscus sabdariffa pesto
Written by Cricket

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Ever since discovering Hibiscus Sabdariffa I have loved it for all the ways it can be enjoyed. For one, it is a beautiful annual plant that is easily grown in the heat of Summer in Arizona, which is saying quite a lot. It can grow to be 4 feet by 4 feet, so give it some room. Plant them as landscape plants or just in the garden. You won’t be disappointed. The flowers are lovely and abundant and then the gorgeous calyces show up like ornaments at the end. The best part about growing Hibiscus Sabdariffa is that you can harvest and eat from it the whole summer.

Eating Hibiscus Leaves

roselle leaves

Most people grow Hibiscus Sabdariffa only for its end product: those gorgeous red calyces or seed pods at the end of the season. If you have ever had hibiscus tea (think Red Zinger) then you have had Hibiscus Sabdariffa. Check out its incredible benefits researched by Dr. Axe here. But did you know that the leaves of this plant are deliciously lemony? It’s true! Just take a bite and you’ll be convinced that there is much more to take advantage with this beauty. Eat them in a salad, cook them as you would any other green with garlic and olive oil, or in pretty much any recipe that calls for spinach or kale. You can even juice them for a yummy boost of chlorophyl and other nutrients. Once you get started you’ll be making more space for these babies in your garden and landscape because it offers so much bang for your buck.

Let’s start you off with a very simple and fresh way to eat these leaves: PESTO!! This is a no-cook recipe, but when added to hot pasta, the lemon flavor really is accentuated. Try it that way and then go crazy with any number of ways to add this to your meals: think crostini, pasta salad, omlets, and avocado toast to name a few. Oh! how about with sundried tomatoes and goat cheese!!! Ummm yes!!

But for now, let’s make some pesto!

Hibiscus leaves, walnuts, garlic, and olive oil

Making the Pesto

To make pesto you only need a few ingredients and a food processor. You can use a blender but the pesto will be more like a puree. Take a minute and just look at those ingredients. Each one of them offers more than just nutrients. They also boost your immune system, feed your gut biome, and provide medicinal solutions to things like arthritis and other inflammation disorders. I like to look the up individual components to recipes on other websites like Dr. Axe or WebMD to further enhance my eating enjoyment… but maybe I’m just weird that way.

The first thing you need to do is to pick about two big handfuls of hibiscus leaves without the stem and rinse in cool water. -Make sure to dump that water on a plant and not down the drain.

Rinse the stemless leaves

Once the leaves are clean and drained, roll them up, slice and chop them so they fit better in the food processor.

Finally, place all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until everything is a fine consistency but not a smooth puree. You can store this in a container to use for all kinds of things. My favorite way to eat this pesto is on pasta with plenty of parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast. I usually add the cheese when I process, but this is a vegan recipe, so adding cheese is optional.

Hibiscus Sabdariffa Pesto with Pasta

hibiscus sabdariffa pesto

Hibiscus Sabdariffa Pesto

A fresh new pesto with a hint of lemony tartness
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • Food Processor


  • 2 Handfulls Stemless Hibiscus Sabdariffa leaves
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/3 Cup Walnuts or Sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese (optional) or 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast (optional)


  • 1. Wash and drain Hibiscus leaves
  • 2. Roll and chop leaves to fit into the food processor
  • 3. Add All ingredients to the food processor and pulse until a fine consistency but not pureed.
  • 4. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Keyword hibiscus

Growing Hibiscus is fun because you can use it in so many ways. For more Hibiscus Recipes click HERE.

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About the author


Welcome to my blog! I’m Cricket (yes, my parents named me that!) and I’m a natural homesteader. Growing up in rural Idaho with a garden, a horse, and lots of canned food, I like to bring those sensibilities to my suburban home in Phoenix, Arizona. Add a little dose of cottage garden flavor and permaculture tendencies, and you’ll see why GardenVariety.Life is a reflection of everything I do.

I truly enjoy sharing the skills that promote a meaningful and practical connection to our gardens and environment. Because so many residents of the metro phoenix area are transplants, I find that the area’s unique desert climate is often misunderstood and underestimated in terms of what is possible. That’s where the fun begins. Arizona is a burgeoning permaculture haven with homesteading written all over it, and there is nothing I enjoy more than encouraging others to jump in and give it a try.