Try this easy dairy-free pesto recipe! Bursting with fresh basil flavor and simple ingredients like olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. It is quick to make in just 5 minutes! This easy vegan pesto recipe without cheese uses nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor!
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Why You're Going to Love This Recipe!
- Easy to make homemade, especially when you have basil plants.
- Simple and few ingredients
- Vegan and dairy-free pesto is made without parmesan cheese.
- Naturally gluten-free, paleo, and is Whole30 approved.
- Homemade pesto is cheaper than store-bought grocery store brands.
- Uses walnuts - much less expensive than using pine nuts.
- Quick to make in just 5 minutes.
- Freezes well!
- Stir fresh pesto into so many dinners like pesto-crusted salmon, pesto orzo salad, or cold pesto tortellini salad.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Here are the ingredients you need to make this recipe. Reference the recipe card at the bottom for exact measurements and the notes below for substitution ideas.
Fresh basil is the base of this recipe. Other leafy greens such as baby spinach, kale, arugula, or fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, or mint are excellent substitutes.
Nutritional yeast is a dairy-free option that gives a cheesy flavor without adding dairy.
Use parmesan cheese if you don't need it to be dairy-free, or use asiago or pecorino romano to make it without parmesan.
Extra virgin olive oil provides the liquid base to turn the dairy-free pesto into a sauce. Use another mild oil like avocado or grape seed oil as a substitute.
Even ripe avocados will work.
Walnuts give it a nutty flavor and make dairy-free pesto less expensive than using pine nuts. Cashews and pistachios are great substitutes.
Use pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds for a nut allergy.
Garlic adds flavor and aroma.
Fresh lemon juice adds acidity, fresh flavor, and balance to this healthy pesto recipe.
How to Make This Recipe
Below are step-by-step instructions for how to cook this recipe. The recipe card at the bottom shows the exact cooking time and temperatures.
Using a food processor, pulse basil leaves until chopped into small pieces.
Add nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, and walnuts.
Pulse pesto until it is well incorporated.
Add olive oil in a constant stream until the basil pesto has a super creamy texture.
What Do You Eat Pesto With?
Serving basil pesto is so easy with all of these options!
Adds so much flavor to your favorite pasta as a pasta sauce or as a sandwich spread.
Add a thin layer of olive oil to the top and serve as a dip with vegetables or bread.
Make Ahead, Storage, and Freezing
Make Ahead: Dairy-free pesto be made up to one week in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Storage: Store in airtight containers like wide-mouth pint mason jars in the refrigerator for up to one week.
How to Freeze Dairy-Free Basil Pesto
Freezing pesto is easy and the perfect way to enjoy this great recipe all year round.
Once the dairy-free pesto is made, carefully pour or spoon the pesto into silicone ice cube trays.
Place the trays into the freezer for about one hour to harden. Once frozen, remove the pesto cubes from the trays and place them into a freezer-proof container like a freezer bag.
Store in the freezer for up to 6 months. The pesto cubes make easy portioning a breeze.
Use a food processor or high-speed blender to ensure the best texture for dairy-free pesto.
Toast walnuts in a pan on the stove or in the oven at 350F for 6-8 minutes for a deeper flavor.
Other Recipe FAQS
Cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachios, or hazelnuts all make excellent substitutions.
No. They give the original classic flavor, but I often use walnuts instead due to their cost.
Making dairy-free pesto without cheese is super easy. Just swap in nutritional yeast to give the cheesy flavor with no dairy.
Traditional pesto is made of fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pine nuts.
The vegan recipe uses nutritional yeast in place of cheese.
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Easy Dairy-Free Pesto Recipe (Vegan, GF)
- 2 cups basil
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 6 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ⅓ cup walnuts
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt + pepper to taste
- Using a food processor, pulse basil until chopped into small pieces.2 cups basil
- Add in nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice and walnuts.2 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 cloves garlic, 6 tablespoon nutritional yeast, ⅓ cup walnuts
- Pulse pesto until it is well incorporated.½ cup olive oil
- Add olive oil in a constant stream until basil pesto is smooth and consistency is to your liking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.Salt + pepper to taste
- Use a food processor or high-speed blender to ensure the best texture.
- Toast walnuts in the oven at 350F for 6-8 minutes for a deeper flavor.
- Make Ahead: Can be made up to one week in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Alternatively, freeze for longer storage.
- Freezer: Easy to freeze in ice cub trays and then stored in a freezer-proof container for up to 6 months. Alternatively, it can also be stored frozen in an airtight container for 6-9 months.
- Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- Serving: Serve with salmon, over chicken, mixed into pasta or potatoes.