The Best Vegan Pesto

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Use this vegan pesto recipe on pasta, avocado toast, or in salads! This vegan basil pesto is the best herby, zesty condiment to keep on hand.

a jar of vegan pesto

The Best Vegan Pesto

When people ask me for easy ways to make their food more enjoyable, 95% of the time my first answer will be to add a killer sauce. Sauces can turn a boring bowl of pasta into flavor-packed meal, take an already delicious plate of food over the top, and they can make your veggies more fun to eat!

I don’t think it’s super surprising that pesto is one of the most popular sauces out there. I mean come on, what’s not to love? It’s fresh, herby, garlicy, and can be used in so many different ways! Throw it on pasta, pizza, avocado toast, salads, bowls, you name it! I don’t think there are many things that a scoop of pesto wouldn’t make better.

Traditionally, basil pesto is made with parmesan cheese to help add saltiness and umami flavor. But today, I’m going to share how to make vegan pesto that tastes just as good as the original! You just need a blender or food processor and a handful of ingredients.

a spoon taking a scoop of pesto out of a jar

Ingredients for Vegan Basil Pesto

There isn’t much to making a homemade pesto, which might be why it’s one of my favorite sauces to make at home. This vegan pesto sauce is all about the fresh basil. Everything else can be customized to suit your preferences!

Here’s everything you’ll need to make your own vegan basil pesto, and some simple ways to tweak the recipe!

  • Fresh basil. There are technically a few different types of pesto. We’re making a vegan version of Pesto alla genovese, which is your classic basil pesto.
  • Pine nuts. Traditionally you would use pine nuts in pesto alla genovese, but you could also try using pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or walnuts instead.
  • Nutritional yeast. This is how we’ll add that cheesy flavor to our vegan pesto sauce.
  • Garlic. I recommend using three fresh cloves, but feel free to scale up or down based on your preferences.
  • Salt. No good sauce is complete without a pinch of salt to bring out all the flavors.
  • Pepper. A crash of fresh pepper is delicious in this vegan pesto recipe.
  • Olive oil. Your vegan pesto won’t have quite the same flavor with another oil, so I highly recommend using an extra virgin olive oil.
  • Lemon juice. This is optional, but highly recommended if you like a bit of a pop in your sauces!

a cracker being dipped into a jar of pesto

 

How to Make This Vegan Pesto Recipe

I know it feels like a total chore to get the food processor down, but I wouldn’t ask you to do it if this vegan pesto recipe weren’t 110% worth it. In fact, the hardest part of this recipe is getting the food processor out I promise. It’s as easy as tossing everything in and blending it up!

Here’s how you make your very own vegan pesto:

  1. Pulse basil, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor until your mixture is finely chopped. Don’t take it as far as a puree – you want it to have some texture!
  2. Stream in the olive oil and lemon juice if you choose to use it while your food processor is running.
  3. If you want a smoother pesto, add more olive oil or a splash of water.

Once you’re happy with the consistency, pop your pesto in an airtight jar or container and stash it in the fridge. It’ll keep for up 3-4 days in the refrigerator, or you can freeze it for up to two months.

a cracker that has been dipped into a jar of pesto

Ways to Enjoy This Vegan Basil Pesto

There are so many delicious ways to enjoy pest. The possibilities are truly endless. If you’re looking to make a batch to enjoy with dinner, here are some other ideas for ways to use your leftover homemade vegan pesto throughout the week!

  • Toss it with fresh pasta
  • Enjoy it in a couscous salad
  • Serve it with pita, cucumbers and carrot sticks
  • Drizzle it on top of roasted root vegetables
  • Scoop some on top of your lunch bowls
  • Add a dollop on top of your salad
  • Use it as a dip with fresh focaccia

a spoon in a jar of pesto

More Vegan Sauce Recipes

A good sauce will totally transform your food. This vegan pesto sauce is one of my favorite condiments to keep on hand to elevate anything I’m eating throughout the week. If you’re looking for more delicious vegan dip recipes, check out some of these!

  • The Best Vegan Sour Cream Recipe
  • Vegan Cream Cheese: 5 Flavors
  • Vegan Cashew Queso Chili Dip
  • Healthy Barbecue Sauce
  • Vegan Ranch Dressing from Love & Lemons
  • Vegan Alfredo Sauce from Chocolate Covered Katie

a spoon stirring a jar of pesto

 

Print

How to make:

The Best Vegan Pesto

Use this vegan pesto recipe on pasta, avocado toast, or in salads! This vegan basil pesto is the best herby, zesty condiment to keep on hand.

Prep Time:
10 minutes
Total Time:
10 minutes
a jar of pesto resting next to a dish towel
Author:
Emilie
Yield:
1 cup
Print the recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or walnuts
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more if needed
  • Optional: squeeze of lemon juice

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add basil, nut/seed of choice, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pulse until basil and garlic are finely chopped.
  2. While pulsing, pour in olive oil. Blend until pesto reached desired consistency. If you are using lemon juice, add and pulse until combined.
  3. If you want a smoother pesto, add more olive oil and/or a splash of water.
1890 g83.7 mg19.5 g2.8 g3.1 g1.6 g2.6 g0 mg

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