Vegan Basil Pesto


Vegan basil pesto gives you all the goodness of traditional pesto, without the inflammatory dairy. This is now my go-to pesto recipe.

vegan basil pesto

I’ve been on a pesto kick since college when I learned how easy it was to make (yet how grown up you feel eating it!). This vegan basil pesto is even better than the traditional version, in my book. Why? Well, it’s more nutrient dense and removes all dairy, which usually causes skin or digestive issues for me.

Vegan basil pesto made with walnuts

How to make pesto

Pesto originated in Italy, and is traditionally the process of grinding down basil leaves, olive oil, pine nuts, and parmesan. Pesto is one of the most forgiving recipes out there— you can use any kind of nuts, herbs and seasonings to create your own signature blend. This vegan basil pesto recipe is a great one to start with, as it probably tastes most like the classic pestos you’ve tried before.

Vegan basil pesto recipe

To get started, combine these ingredients in a food processor or carefully pulse in a blender: walnuts, basil, garlic, lemon and sea salt. Once it’s finely minced, add in the olive oil and blend again.

If using a high speed blender, be careful to blend slowly otherwise it can turn into a green goo. No joke! And that’s def not what we’re going for here! Small chunks are preferred to a puree with this vegan basil pesto recipe. Pro tip: if you’re making this recipe using a full sized blender container, then I suggest doubling the recipe. It gives your blender more to work with, so that the finished product is the correct consistency.

A fresh pesto recipe

How to use basil pesto

This is a sauce that can go on or in practically anything. Soup? Yep! Salad? Yes! Pasta? For sure! Pizza? No doubt! You get it, right? Below, I added the basil pesto to a piece of toast, sliced some peaches on top, added some mozzarella (you can leave that out if you’re vegan) and then warmed it to perfection. It was good!

Recipes to top with pesto

Need some good recipe inspo for your new fav pesto? These are all great options:

You can also keep it simple by topping your next piece of toast with it, using to top almond flour crackers, or as a fun dip for raw sliced veggies. It’s a great sauce option because it adds bonus healthy fat + protein to any recipe.

fresh basil leaves are best for any pesto recipe

I’ve been growing my garden every spring for the past 7 years. Some years it does better than others, yet I’ve always had luck with basil and tomatoes. So vegan basil pesto is something we tend to enjoy often. I hope you give this recipe a shot and then let me know what you think. I’d honestly love to know if you even missed the cheese, because I don’t!

Other dairy free pesto recipes

Once I realized just how good pesto is without the parmesan, I went on a pesto making spree! There are so many ways to make pesto, so here are my most fav versions:

Which one of these recipes leaves you in a pesto-making mood? Don’t forget to try this pesto recipe, as well as leave a rating/comment on how you liked it! Do you have any fun ingredient combos for your own vegan basil pesto? If so, then I’d love to hear about them!

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vegan basil pesto

Vegan Basil Pesto

  • Author: Jen Hansard
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


This vegan basil pesto is simple to make and packed with plant-based ingredients. The garlic blends perfectly with the basil for an authentic Italian flavor.


  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. In a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, combine the pine nuts and garlic. Pulse until finally chopped.
  2. Add the basil and salt and pulse again until finally chopped.
  3. With the motor running, pour the oil through the feed hole in a slow steady stream.
  4. Process until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides if needed while processing.
  5. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.


It will keep about one week in the fridge or up to several months in the freezer.

  • Category: Condiments
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: vegan basil pesto

Walnut and Basil Pesto Recipe
#1 Green Smoothie Of all Time— no joke!
About Jen Hansard

Mom of 2, ran across the Grand Canyon and lover of smoothies, coffee & tacos. I transformed my family's health with a plant-based diet. I also found myself again along the way.

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Recipe rating

  1. Erin says:

    Just made this for lunch, thanks for a simple and vegan recipe!

  2. Rashayna Miller says:

    Can you sub pine nuts for walnuts.

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      Def Rashayna! We love swapping out dif nuts or seeds in this pesto recipe because it’s so versatile.

  3. Sandra Clark says:

    Thank you so much for a vegan version of pesto! I just made this and tossed it with pasta and just like you said, I couldn’t tell it was any different. It was even better in my opinion! Great recipe and I’m glad to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

  4. Kathe says:

    FYI: Your link to the cilantro vegan pesto is missing.


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