It’s so easy to make your own homemade vegan pesto and makes just about everything taste better. Use it as a sauce on pasta or to add extra flavor to soups, sandwiches, stirfries, or tofu scrambles. Whenever you have fresh basil (or any other herbs) you can make a big batch and freeze it to be used later so you always have some on hand.
What is vegan pesto made of?
Pesto is a bright green sauce made from chopped fresh herbs. Traditional pesto usually has parmesan cheese, but you can easily swap it out for nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan cheese. Basil is most commonly used, but you can use cilantro, kale, arugula, spinach or a combo of any of them.
What ingredients do I need for the vegan pesto recipe?
- Basil – This is the primary herb in all pesto. You can also make pesto out of cilantro, parsley, kale, or spinach for alternative flavors and extra nutrition.
- Garlic – Give it flavor, however, you can omit or reduce it if you don’t like it.
- Nutritional Yeast – Nutritional yeast gives vegan pesto a cheesy flavor without adding any dairy. It is a light yellow flaky powder with a cheesy flavor. Full of vitamins and a great source of B-12 for those who follow a vegan diet. You can find it at most natural food stores and large grocery stores.
- Salt – for flavor.
- Nuts – pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews or even hemp seeds will all work well in this pesto, or you can leave them out completely.
- Olive Oil – Use a good quality oil, like a dark extra virgin olive oil for the best tasting pesto. You can use any other neutral-flavored oil that you would like in its place if you would like.
- Lemon Juice – to help the pesto maintain it’s a bright beautiful color. The acid in the lemon juice will keep it from oxidizing.
What tools do I need?
A food processor is the easiest tool to use when making pesto, but if you don’t have one, you can also use a blender or an immersion blender.
How to make vegan Pesto:
How can I freeze pesto?
I use basil or pesto in a ton of my recipes, so I make a big batch every few weeks and freeze it.
I found these ice cube trays at Big Lot for a few dollars. They are great for freezing the perfect amount of pesto. I freeze the pesto in these trays, then pop the cubes out into a freezer bag. When I make a soup, stirfry or anything that needs some fresh herbs, I just take out a cube or two and toss it in.
How long will pesto keep?
Pesto will keep well in the fridge for 5-7 days in a sealed container or in a sealed freezer bag for about 3 months.
What can I make with my homemade vegan pesto?
- Quick pesto pasta – Mix ¾ cup of pesto with a pound of cooked pasta for a quick meal.
- Turn your pesto into a Creamy Vegan Pesto pasta Sauce for a quick and easy meal.
- Make a delicious breakfast with this Pesto Tofu Scramble!
- I always put a few cubes of pesto in my Creamy Roasted Marinara Sauce.
- This Vegan Pesto Hummus is sure to be a hit with your whole family!
- Spread some pesto of your next Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich for an epic lunch!
- Add some to Vegan Ricotta to make amazingly delicious Vegan Stuffed Shells.
*Learn more about how to make more homemade vegan staples like vegan butter, oat milk, cream cheese, and chocolate fudge sauce in my cookbook The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Staples!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram for daily vegan inspiration and recipe ideas! Tag me at #thehiddenveggies! I love to see what you made too!
An easy way to make vegan pesto with the option for no nuts. Although this recipe is dairy-free, this pesto still has a rich and cheesy flavor.
- 2 cups basil (substitute as much as 1 cup spinach for basil)
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup olive oil (high quality)
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp pine nuts (optional)
- 1/2 tsp Salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional to maintain color)
Put all of the ingredients into a food processor except for the oil.
Turn on the food processor and slowly add about 1/2 of the oil.
Stop and scrape the edges and then blend again slowly adding the remainder of the oil.
Keep in an airtight container or freeze.
- Use ice cube trays to freeze pesto.
- Pop the pesto out once it is frozen and store in a freezer bag.
- Keep frozen until ready to use.
- If you will use it within 7 days, keep in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
*This recipe was originally published March 17, 2017. It has been updated on April 4, 2020, to include new images and improved instructions and information.