Easy Vegan Pesto

Easy vegan pesto which comes together in 10 minutes and is good on pasta, salads, pizza, sandwiches and more!
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Easy vegan pesto comes together in 10 minutes and makes a great sauce for pasta, salads, sandwiches and more. I keep a bottle of this versatile sauce in my refrigerator at all times to make easy dinners!

bowl of pesto garnished with a fresh basil leaf

Pesto is one of my favorite sauces. I didn’t know about it 10 years ago and got introduced to it only when I moved to the US. It quickly became my favorite sauce and I started using it over my pasta and salads all the time.

You can find a bottle of pesto at all grocery stores but honestly I am yet to find a store bought jar that I love. Homemade is so much better and that is the reason I always make pesto at home. It tastes 10 times better than the store bought version.

Over the years, I have made pesto with several greens like spinach, kale but the one made with basil still remains my favorite. It’s basic and good. This vegan pesto is my all time favorite, comes together in 10 minutes and is good on just about everything!

This Vegan Pesto

  • is easy to make in 10 minutes!
  • keeps well in the fridge for 5 to 7 days.
  • can be frozen easily.
  • good on so many things from pasta to salads to rice.
  • can be used to make easy dinners in no time.

Ingredients

ingredients for vegan pesto arranged on a board

Basil: this is a classic pesto made with fresh basil, however if you don’t have basil you can use other greens in place too like spinach, kale, arugula.

Nuts: just like the greens, you can use any of these nuts for the recipe: pine nuts, walnuts, almonds.

Olive oil: since the flavor of this vegan pesto recipe depends a lot on olive oil, I would recommend using a good quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Nutritional yeast: this replaces parmesan cheese in vegan pesto recipe. It imparts a cheesy flavor to the pesto however if you don’t have it, you can skip it. Your pesto will still be delicious!

Step by Step Instructions

1- To a food processor, add 2 cups packed basil leaves.

2- Then to that add 1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts) and 4 large garlic cloves.

3- Also add salt and pepper to taste and then pulse to combine everything together.

4- Open the lid and now add 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil.

step by step instructions for making vegan pesto

5- Also, add 1/4 cup nutritional yeast.

6- And a tablespoon of lemon juice.

7- Pulse to combine everything together.

8- Your homemade vegan pesto is now ready!

step by step instructions for making vegan pesto

Fun ways to use the sauce!

There are so many ways to use this homemade pesto:

  • Toss with pasta: the easiest and also the most popular way is to toss pesto with your favorite pasta like penne, bowtie, or spaghetti. Once you have this sauce prepared, you will just need to boil some pasta and dinner is ready in less than 30 minutes. Everyone loves easy dinner ideas and it can’t get simpler than this. You can also add some veggies to the sauce to make your pasta more hearty. I love adding broccoli.
  • Use in sandwiches: one of my favorite ways to enjoy this sauce is over sandwiches. Spread some pesto on your bread and top with sliced tomato and avocados. Sprinkle salt and pepper and enjoy.
  • Make a good salad: love cold pasta salads for summer? Then make a pesto pasta salad with this vegan pesto and veggies of choice.
  • Use as pizza sauce: you can use it either as the base pizza sauce or just drizzle on top before serving the pizza. It’s good either way.
  • Make pesto rice: why not add pesto to your rice? Add veggies like carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and pesto to cooked rice that has been lying in your fridge and toss it all together. Trust me, it tastes good!

Storage & Freezing Options

This vegan pesto will last for around 5 to 6 days in the fridge. If you prefer to make it last longer, then you should freeze it. Use a silicone ice cube mold, fill it with pesto, and then freeze it. You can take out one cube at a time as needed.

spoon digging into a bowl of vegan pesto

Tips & Notes

  • You can use up to 3/4 cup of nuts if you prefer, that makes the sauce chunkier.
  • As you can tell from the pictures, I like my pesto on the thicker side and I also like it chunky. If you prefer a more smooth version you can blend it into a finer paste (you will probably need more liquid).
  • Use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil in this recipe. It makes a lot of difference to the final flavor of the pesto.
  • If you don’t have nutritional yeast, you can simply skip it. The pesto will still be good.
  • Basil can be replaced with spinach or kale. Or you can do 50% basil and spinach.

Recipes using Pesto

Check out some recipes that I have on the blog using pesto. These recipes don’t necessarily use this vegan pesto but it can obviously be used in any of these recipes.

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

Sweet Potato Pesto Tart

Pesto Pasta Salad

Onion Pepper Pesto Pizza

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This post has been updated from the recipe archives, first published in March 2018.

Vegan Pesto

bowl of pesto garnished with a fresh basil leaf
Manali
Easy vegan pesto which comes together in 10 minutes and is good on pasta, salads, pizza, sandwiches and more!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Dip, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 cup
Calories 1413 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cups walnuts or pine nuts (can use 3/4 cup nuts for more texture)
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper adjust to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • To a food processor, add 2 cups packed basil leaves. Then to that add 1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts) and 4 large garlic cloves.
  • Also add salt and pepper to taste and then pulse to combine everything together.
  • Open the lid and now add 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Also, add 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and a tablespoon of lemon juice.
  • Pulse to combine everything together. Your homemade vegan pesto is now ready!

Video

Notes

  • You can use up to 3/4 cup of nuts if you prefer, that makes the sauce chunkier.
  • As you can tell from the pictures, I like my pesto on the thicker side and I also like it chunky. If you prefer a more smooth version you can blend it into a finer paste (you will probably need more liquid).
  • Use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil in this recipe. It makes a lot of difference to the final flavor of the pesto.
  • If you don’t have nutritional yeast, you can simply skip it. The pesto will still be good.
  • Basil can be replaced with spinach or kale. Or you can do 50% basil and spinach.

Nutrition

Calories: 1413kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 17gFat: 147gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 39gMonounsaturated Fat: 84gSodium: 8mgPotassium: 698mgFiber: 8gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 2551IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 170mgIron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @cookwithmanali or tag #cookwithmanali!

14 thoughts on “Easy Vegan Pesto

    1. No, two very different things. Nutritional yeast is used to flavor food, has a cheesy taste and cannot be used for baking. Active dry yeast is just dried yeast and used for baking.

      1. Okay. Thanks.. will it taste good if I make it without nutritional yeast or even without Parmesan cheese?

  1. I’m a pesto addict too, and this week I was too lazy to grate some parmesan when I made some so I skipped it. I discovered that it doesn’t need it at all! I just want to eat this pesto with a spoon Manali — it’s such a pretty green too!

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