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This easy 5-minute vegan pesto is made with basil, garlic, lemon, and nutritional yeast for a pesto that is packed with flavor. Serve it with noodles, on bread, or in a salad for the perfect vegan condiment.
If you know me at all, you know I am a mega pesto fanatic. There is something truly magical about that vibrantly green sauce.
Over the years, I’ve made many recipes that use vegan pesto. On this website, you’ll find recipes like my vegan pesto pasta, green goddess pizza, and pesto stuffed mushrooms. For each recipe, I usually make a slight variation of my basic pesto recipe.
But in all those years, I’ve never actually dedicated a post to my basic pesto recipe. And so, I figured it was time It is, after all, the most amazing condiment/sauce/topping/spread/etc. EVER.
So let’s take a look at how to make the BEST vegan pesto recipe.
What is Pesto
Pesto is a sauce or condiment that originated from Italy. At its base, pesto is made up of a few basic ingredients: basil, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Commonly added ingredients are pine nuts (or other types of nuts such as macadamia nuts, cashews, or almonds), parmesan cheese, greens such as kale, arugula, or spinach, and sometimes added herbs such as parsley, mint, or cilantro.
This recipe is the base for all your pesto experimenting to unfold.
Recommended Ingredients & Equipment
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Fresh Basil – Use sweet, Italian basil
- Pine Nuts – Feel free to omit or use another nut such as almonds or Macadamia nuts.
- Nutritional Yeast – Nutritional yeast is a common food additive made from deactivated yeast and is common in vegan cooking to give it that nutty cheesy flavor.
- Olive Oil
You don’t need much to make homemade pesto. However, you will need a food processor. Having a high-quality food processor is very beneficial for plant-based eating. (<<affiliate links)
Check out the full list of my recommended kitchen tools and gadgets.
How to Make Homemade Pesto
Homemade pesto is super simple to make! All the ingredients, except the olive oil, get tossed inside a food processor and blended together. With the motor running, add the olive oil to the blender in a slow and steady stream. Once all the olive oil is incorporated, stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula.
Process a little bit longer until you have a bright green, thick and creamy pesto. That’s it!
Serving and Storing
Pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
You can also freeze pesto for up to six months. To freeze pesto, freeze it in ice cube trays. Once the pesto is frozen solid, transfer the cubes to a ziplock bag. When ready to use, just add the pesto to your pasta or vegetables to heat.
Uses for Vegan Pesto
Homemade pesto is amazing because it tastes so good. But also, it’s one of the most versatile condiments that make nearly any meal a little more special. There are so many ways to use pesto beyond pasta: Use your pesto
- as a salad dressing
- as pizza sauce
- topping vegetables
- baked in bread
- garnishing a soup
- as a sauce for homemade gnocchi
- mixed in a tofu scramble.
All tried and true pesto recommendations.
Variations of Vegan Pesto
There are so many variations of pesto; that means you can make it a truly different spread every time. Common variations include:
- Nuts: pine nuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, or almonds
- Cheese: Vegan parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
- Greens: Kale, arugula, and spinach
- Herbs: Parsley, mint, and cilantro
Classic 5-Minute Vegan Pesto
- Destem the basil and place it in a food processor along with pine nuts, nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, and salt.
- With motor running, slowly add olive oil until it is completely incorporated. Stop to scrape down the sides, if necessary, blending until the pesto is evenly mixed.