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Make creamy, vibrant Vegan Pesto that's just as cheesy, nutty and versatile without any dairy! The perfect green sauce for spring.
Pesto is a classic pasta sauce (or really, anything sauce) for a reason. It's so simple to whip up in about 5 minutes. It's full of fresh herby flavor from plenty of basil. Pesto is so creamy and cheesy. AND it goes with anything!
You can use this vegan pesto as a go-to sauce for your favorite pasta, like this penne pesto pasta salad. Or, spread it on vegan pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, or toss with meatballs for a high-protein dinner.
This simple pesto recipe comes together in a flash. All you need is a food processor a few pantry-staple ingredients. Reminder: You can find the detailed, printable recipe in the recipe card below.
- Nutritional yeast. A must-have to add cheesy flavor to pesto, and so many more vegan recipes.
- Pine nuts. These are traditional in Italian pesto, but you can also substitute them with walnuts if you have them on hand.
- Olive oil. Choose a nice flavorful olive oil, as it won't be cooked. This also helps emulsify the sauce so it's creamy and fluffy.
- Lemon juice. To brighten things up and help thin out the sauce a bit.
- Basil. This, of course, is the foundation of fresh homemade pesto! You can use the stems too, they taste like basil.
- Garlic. Fresh garlic adds classic pesto flavors to this dairy-free version.
Substitutions & Swaps
- Nut-free vegan pesto: Substitute the pine nuts with sunflower seeds.
- Without nutritional yeast: Instead of nutritional yeast, you can use vegan parmesan.
- More greens: To sneak more greens into your pesto, half of the basil can be substituted with spinach or arugula.
To store vegan pesto, place it in an airtight container and cover the top of the sauce with a layer of olive oil. This helps keep the basil bright and vibrant, not brown. It can be stored in the fridge for up to three days or frozen for up to three months.
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- 2 cups basil leaves - packed
- ¼ cup pine nuts - or walnuts
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast - or vegan parmesan
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt - or to taste
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- In a food processor, blend together the basil, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, and salt.
- Slowly add the olive oil while continuing to blend, until the pesto is smooth or the consistency you prefer. Add more olive oil if needed for a thinner pesto.
- This recipe makes about ¾ cup of pesto.