vegan pesto recipes

5 Vegan Pesto Recipes

POSTED ON 2.25.2021

I’ve created a no-fail vegan pesto recipe that can be swapped out for your fav ingredients, whatever your tastebuds are craving.

Enjoy my top 5 vegan pesto recipes to add more flavors, as well as variety, to your diet. When I started eating more plant-based foods, I remember feeling so sad saying goodbye to cheese (the main food group that was giving my digestive system issues galore). It was even more devastating when I thought I had to say goodbye to pesto. Yet after a bit of research, I learned that there is a whole world of vegan pesto recipes (and they are amazing!). Follow along so that you’ll be able to make your own homemade pesto, or just try some of my creations below.

fresh herbs for vegan pesto

What’s in pesto?

Pesto is a combination of oil, herbs, nuts and plant-based seasoning crushed into a paste that is flavor-packed. Traditional pesto contains some sorta Parmesan style cheese. Yet in these vegan pesto recipes, we’ve left out the cheese and bumped up the flavors. Honestly, you won’t even miss the dairy in the taste or the texture of this pesto recipes.

Tools to make pesto

The word “pesto” in Italian means “to pound or crush”. Back before food processors and blenders reigned, if you wanted to make pesto, you had to grab a trusty mortar and pestle, then put some elbow grease into it.

Of course nowadays, every kitchen counter seems to be home to all sorts of gadgets. (I still think there’s a place for a pestle in every kitchen!) This tutorial instructs the use of a food processor or blender. If using a blender, make sure to use the low speed or pulse setting so you don’t liquify your pesto.

Please know that you can also use a mortar and pestle. The mortar is the bowl and the pestle is the pounder.

homemade pesto

How To Make Vegan Pesto

Pesto usually contains finely grated parmesan or Romano cheese. But pesto doesn’t really need cheese at all! That’s about the only change needed to make vegan pesto. Pick from the items below to make your own homemade pesto, or scroll down to check out 5 tried and true vegan pesto recipes.

Fresh herbs, leafy greens + vegetables: Basil, cilantro, parsley, kale, broccoli, mint

Plant-based Oil: Olive, avocado, macadamia, hazelnut, walnut oils all work. If you wanna go oil free, then just use water.

Nuts: Pine nuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, pepitas, pistachio

Seasoning: Garlic, chives, green onions, lemon, lime, olives, salt, pepper, tamari, miso, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast, jalapeños

5 Vegan Pesto Recipes Ideas

Now that you know all the components that go into making homemade pesto, you’ll find 5 recipes below that’ll rawk your world! Click on any of them to get to the recipe and enjoy the incredible fresh herbs and plant-based protein boost from a variety of nuts and seeds.

vegan pesto recipe

Lemon Arugula Pesto

The arugula’s fresh peppery flavor blends nicely with the brightness of lemon to create an addictively healthy vegan pesto. Arugula is in the leafy green family and is packed with vitamin K and folates, as well as other numerous nutrients). Works great on a variety of dishes, from salad to spaghetti squash or even pasta.

delicious plant based sauce

Cilantro Vegan Pesto Recipe

This homemade pesto recipe is one of my favs I’ve ever made. I love how good it is on chips. It’s insane! Serve it with pasta, tacos or toast… I’d encourage putting it on all three!

homemade pesto recipe

Pistachio Pesto

I’ve always had a love for pistachios and they bring a wonderful depth to this vegan pesto recipe. Serve it as a dip for veggies, toast, crackers, chips…. as well as a soup garnish, salad dressing and on pizza. Honestly, the list of what pesto can do is endless.

plant based pesto

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

The first time our food photographer and recipe creator, Lindsey mentioned creating a Sun-Dried Tomato pesto recipe for Simple Green Meals, I wasn’t very excited. Yet her excitement was contagious, so I easily gave in. I’m so glad I did because this is my favorite pesto recipe to use on veggie bowls!!! It’s also amazing on pizza and in pasta— so don’t be scared because it looks so different. This homemade pesto is absolutely worth making!

vegan whole food sauces

Basil Pesto

This classic pesto recipe was upgraded with heart-healthy walnuts. Yummy! If you like to keep the classic pesto a bit more classic, then swap out the walnuts with pine nuts (super easy!). Once again, the options are endless with pesto and that’s why we love it around here so much!

What does Vegan Pesto go with?

Pretty much everything and anything works with vegan pesto. Whether you need to avoid dairy, or just want to make delicious pesto, there’s a vegan pesto recipe for you. Here are my top 5 ways to use a vegan pesto recipe:

  • Toss it on pasta: The flavors come alive and also you’re boosting the nutrients.
  • Serve it as a dip: Works great with crackers, chips and veggies
  • Add it to toast: I love a hearty piece of toast. Adding a dollop of pesto pretty much makes it a meal in my book.
  • Swap it for pizza sauce: We take Friday night pizza night pretty seriously at our house. We order takeout a lot, but we also make it from scratch a lot too. We love all kinds of pizza… especially when pesto is the base.
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5 Vegan Pesto Recipes


  • Author: Jen Hansard
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Pesto usually contains finely grated parmesan or Romano cheese. But pesto doesn’t really need cheese at all! That’s about the only change needed to make my vegan pesto recipes. Pick from the items below to make your own pesto recipe, or check out my 5 tried and true vegan pesto recipes.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups fresh herbs, leafy greens + vegetables: Basil, cilantro, parsley, kale, broccoli, mint
  • 2 Tbs plant-based Oil: Olive, avocado, macadamia, hazelnut, walnut oils all work. Wanna go oil free? Just use water.
  • 1/2 cup nuts: Pine nuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, pepitas, pistachio
  • 2 tsp seasoning: Garlic, chives, green onions, lemon, lime, olives, salt, pepper, tamari, miso, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast, jalapeños

Instructions

  1. Pick one ingredients from each section above.
  2. Add to a food processor or blender and pulse.
  3. Pulse until combined and finely chopped (yet not liquified)
  4. If having trouble blending, add more oil or water to help blend. 
  5. Store in air tight container in the fridge.
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Blending
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: vegan pesto recipes

Hope this guide was helpful and you try some of these pesto recipes! I appreciate any comments or questions you want to leave in the comments section below.

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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:

    Thanks for the recipe inspo for my next batch of pesto! I can’t wait to try some of these new herb combos.

  2. Beverly Doucette says:

    I’m totally excited to try the sun-dried tomato pesto!

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      Awesome! Let us know what you think after you make it! 🙂

  3. SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

    Hi everyone! *All* the links have been fixed and they all work now. 🙂

  4. JoAnn M Lakes says:

    The links for 3 of the recipes are not working!

  5. Maura says:

    I LOVE pesto and really want to try the arugula recipe, but i’m not very creative. I like to have a recipe. Your article says ‘ or scroll down to check out 5 tried and true vegan pesto recipes.’

    There was no recipes further down. Where can I go to get them?

  6. Erin says:

    Vegan pesto from SGS is the BEST ever. I first tried it in Fresh Start Autumn, and it is now a staple in our house (and the reason I grow my own basil!). Thanks for the fun new recipes to try, can’t wait!

  7. Anita says:

    I love basil, which is why I’m learning to grow it. I love sun-dried tomatoes. So those would be my #1’s.

  8. Laura Kennelly says:

    Proof that first sentence. Die or diet?
    Saving the ideas— cool ones

  9. Olivia says:

    I’m honestly surprised that the recipe I most want to try is the sun-dried tomato! I’ve never thought of pesto in that way and it sounds awesome!

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      It does! Let us know what you think after you make it. 🙂

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