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Vegan basil pesto gives you all the goodness of traditional pesto, without the potentially inflammatory dairy. This is now my go-to pesto recipe. I love the freshness of the ingredients as well as the lack of digestive issues after!

vegan basil pesto in a glass jar on a wooden cutting board.

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.

Table of Contents
  1. How to Make Pesto
  2. How to Use Basil Pesto
  3. Other Dairy-Free Pesto Recipes
  4. Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe

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-powered 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.

fresh pesto in a glass jar surrounded by fresh ingredients.

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!

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.

a pile of fresh basil.

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!

5 from 3 votes

Vegan Basil Pesto

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.
Prep: 5 minutes
Blending Time: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Author: Jen Hansard
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Italian-Inspired, Plant-Based
Serves: 8


  • food processor


  • cup raw walnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups fresh basil just leaves
  • tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
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  • Place basil (washed well and patted dry), walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, 1/2 of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.
  • Pulse until desired consistency is reached. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with remaining 1/2 olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.


  • It will keep about one week in the fridge or up to several months in the freezer.
  • Look for a high-quality olive oil since you will definitely taste it in this recipe.
  • If you need to buy fresh basil then you should go to the plant section of the store and grab one with roots! There’s often more than 1 plant, it’s the same price as the tiny container in the produce section, and then you get a chance to grow your own.


Calories: 209kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Sodium: 99mg, Potassium: 106mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 1267IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 52mg, Iron: 1mg
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  1. 5 stars
    This pesto recipe is so easy and fresh! It can added to so many recipes! Now I find it goes with soup! I can’t believe I haven’t commented on this recipe before!

    1. I’m a little confused. In the body of the article you mention pulsing together lemon with the other ingredients, but the recipe itself omits the lemon. Am I to add lemon or was this simply a misprint?

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

  2. 5 stars
    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!