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Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe

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.

Creamy Pesto Gnocchi Photo

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.
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 16 1 ounce
Calories 64.73 kcal


  • 6.5 Nut Milk Pulp
  • 0.5 Olive Oil
  • 12 Garlic peeled
  • 2.5 Spinach
  • 2.5 Fresh Basil
  • 0.33 Lemon juiced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Simmer garlic in oil for about 15 minutes, ensuring heat is very low.
  • Add all the ingredients except oil, into a blender/food processor and gradually add the oil until the desired consistency is achieved. 
  • 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. 


Calories: 64.73kcalCarbohydrates: 0.26gFat: 6.75gSaturated Fat: 0.91gSodium: 4.65mgFiber: 0.02gSugar: 0.02g
Keyword Basil, Easy Dinners, Pasta, Vegan
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