Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe

Cyd Converse

Vegan basil Pesto is so very easy to make. You can even freeze it for make ahead meals all year long.

Pesto may just be one of the simplest things you'll ever make - but it is also one of the most delicious! There are just so many ways you can use it, the easiest of which is to just toss it with freshly cooked pasta.

If you want to follow a vegan diet, you may assume that pesto - rich in Parmesan cheese - will be firmly off the menu!

Kale Pesto Photo

So you will be pleased to know that it is possible to make a totally plant-based version of this wildly popular sauce that tastes every bit as good as the original!

Just like the non-vegan recipe, this pesto contains plenty of olive oil, garlic and basil - key ingredients that provide plenty of flavor. But instead of pine nuts it uses nut milk pulp - the by-product you get when making nut milk. This is a great way to make use of something that would otherwise go to waste.

Of course, if you have no nut milk pulp available, you can easily use pine nuts instead. Or try walnuts - they make a great alternative!

Instead of Parmesan cheese, this recipe suggests using nutritional yeast.

Kale Pesto Picture

What is nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast - a rich source of protein and B vitamins - is deactivated yeast, which means that it can't ferment. It brings that 'umami' quality to dishes that are otherwise lacking and - in this case - provides the 'cheesiness' you might miss in dairy-free pesto.

It is ready to use just as it comes - try sprinkling on pasta, soups or salads just as you would Parmesan cheese for a welcome pop of flavor.

Mozzarella in Carrozza with Pesto Sandwich

Ideas with pesto

Although pesto is great as a quick and easy accompaniment for pasta, there are lots of other great ways you can use it!

  • Try this Pesto Omelet recipe - it takes just 5 minutes to make and is such a great way to start the day!
  • Instead of pasta, use it to top gnocchi! In this Creamy Pestop Gnocchi recipe, delicious little gnocchi pillows are combined with cream, pesto and butter for a deliciously indulgent and speedy meal.
  • Try something compltely different, such as this Deconstructed Pesto Couscous Salad. You can serve it as a side dish, or even as a light meal.
  • Use it as a base for pizza. If you're not a huge fan of the herby tomato sauce usually used on pizza, you'll find that pesto makes a deliciously fresh alternative.
  • Add it to mashed potatoes! You only need a few tablespoons to add some color and plenty of flavor to boring mashed potatoes - you'll probably never eat them plain again!
  • Spoon it over hot bread, straight from the oven. This may be the very best way of all to enjoy pesto. It works especially well with crusty sourdough or focaccia.
Roasted Eggplant Kale Pesto Sandwich Photo

If you are looking for more pesto recipes. try this Kale Pesto, which is packed with nutrients.


Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe

    16 Servings


  • 6 1/2 ounces Nut Milk Pulp
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 12 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 2 1/2 cups Spinach
  • 2 1/2 cups Fresh Basil
  • 1/3 Lemon, juiced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


  1. Simmer garlic in oil for about 15 minutes, ensuring heat is very low.
  2. Add all the ingredients except oil, into a blender/food processor and gradually add the oil until the desired consistency is achieved. 
  3. If you feel as though you are missing the flavor of parmesan found in traditional pesto, substitute it for 3-4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast for a vegan version. 


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Related Recipes:
Basil Recipes, Vegan Recipes, Pasta Recipes, Easy Dinner Recipes
Recipe Yields:
2 cups
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
Related Posts:
Author: Cyd Converse
Recipe Yields: 2 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 ounce
Servings Per Recipe 16

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 54
Calories 65

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g
  Saturated Fat 1g
Sodium 5mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g
  Dietary Fiber 0g
  Sugars 0g
Protein 0g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.

Cyd is a native of Upstate New York, born to a family of women who love to cook and host parties. She shares her love of all things food, home and entertaining on her blog, The Sweetest Occasion and on Instagram.

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