Vegan Pesto Recipe

5 from 1 vote
How to make simple vegan pesto sauce. Ready in 5 minutes! Top on your favourite roasted veggies like cauliflower or potatoes, use it to make pesto pasta or top on tofu scramble.
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Sep 18, 2020 (Last updated Dec 6, 2023) by Hannah Sunderani

Vegan Pesto Recipe

Hi friends! Today I am sharing an easy vegan pesto recipe that you can use to make delicious dishes like pesto pasta, flatbreads, or to simply toss with roasted veggies. I love a good pesto sauce because it’s bright and flavourful, nutty and tangy. Certainly, basil is one of my favourite herbs and it takes the spotlight in this recipe.

I recently received heaps of basil from my farm share (my weekly box of fresh farmed produce), which inspired this beautiful pesto sauce recipe. Pesto is also a great way to use up your basil if you have tons growing in your garden.

Needless to say, when you’ve got heaps of basil: make pesto!

So, let me tell you exactly how to make this recipe so that you can enjoy it pronto!

vegan pesto recipe

Vegan Pesto Recipe:

The ingredients:

For this recipe you will need:

  • basil (2 cups, tightly packed, to be exact)
  • pine nuts
  • lemon
  • garlic
  • nutritional yeast
  • sea salt
  • olive oil

vegan pesto recipe

Is pesto vegan?

Typically, pesto is not vegan because it uses parmesan. But this recipe, of course, is 100% vegan.

In full honesty, you really don’t need parmesan to make a beautifully tasting, bright and flavourful pesto. To achieve the “cheesy” flavour of Parmesan, I’ve used nutritional yeast (nooch).

If you’re just being introduced to a plant-based diet, say hello to this wondrous ingredient that us vegans like to use for cheesy taste and flavour.

Nutritional yeast is rich with umami and savoury flavour, making it a perfect replacement for parmesan. This article by Spruce Eats does a great job at explaining exactly what is nutritional yeast, in case you want to know more.

However, if you’re unable to find nutritional yeast at your local grocers, then you can still make this recipe by omitting the nooch altogether. This vegan pesto recipe is still very delicious without, and I often make it sans nutritional yeast.

Vegan Pesto Recipe: Tips & Notes

How to make vegan pesto

Vegan pesto couldn’t be simpler to make. But my personal preference is to use a food processor if you have one.

Simply toss your ingredients: basil, pine nuts, lemon, garlic, nutritional yeast, sea salt and olive oil into your food processor with the S-shape blade and pulse a few times to combine. Then turn your processor on low, and drizzle in the olive oil until you’ve got a combined yet textured blend.

Voila. You’ve got yourself some pesto.

If you don’t have a food processor, this same method can be done in your blender. Or, you can do it grandma style in a large mortar and pestle. I once took a pesto making class in Italy and this is how they did it.

And I do have to say, it tasted amazing! Maybe there’s something to say for the extra effort!

Or maybe it’s the nostalgia of our Italian vacation, our sweet chef and the beautiful Tuscan hills – yep, that’s probably it. *sigh*

vegan pesto recipe

how to make vegan pesto

How to use pesto

Pesto can be used for so many delicious recipes!

Keep it simple and make pesto pasta (literally just pour it over pasta noodles (about 350g), it’s freaking delicious!). Spread it onto toast, or top your roasted veg with pesto. I really like cauliflower (a fun recipe for that will be available in my upcoming cookbook!), asparagus and potatoes.

You can even use it as a salad dressing, or add it to tofu scramble for breakfast.  Needless to say, the options are endless. I truly don’t think there’s anything that pesto doesn’t pair well with!

And if you’re looking for more ideas, the Kitchn has fun article for 10 ways to use pesto to get you inspired. (Not all vegan, but I hope it triggers your creative juices).

Make parsley pesto

This recipe can also be used to make parsley pesto! Simply swap the basil for flat leaf parsley and follow the directions just the same. Give it a try!

vegan pesto pasta

How long does pesto keep?

Pesto will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Store in an air-tight container.

Can you freeze pesto sauce?

You can freeze pesto for longer storage! Keep in a freezer safe container for up to 6 months. You can also store in ice cubes trays for smaller portions. Transfer the cubes to a freezer safe bag when frozen.

When ready to eat, let thaw back to room temperature.

This is a great tip considering that basil leaves do not thaw well. So if you’ve got a bunch of fresh basil that going to go bad, consider making pesto and then freezing it.

Other recipes you might like:

If you’re digging this pesto recipe, you might also like these sauces:

Pin it on Pinterest

So there we have it! A very simple vegan pesto recipe for the very best pesto! Enjoy adding it to all of your fave dishes, and have fun experimenting! I’m sure you’ll see that there’s lots of fun ways that you can make the most out of these tasty herb.

And, if you do make this recipe please let me know in the comments below what you think! I love hearing from you. And of course, tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #twospoons. Nothing makes me happier than to see your recreations.

Vegan Pesto

5 from 1 vote
How to make simple vegan pesto sauce. Ready in 5 minutes! Top on your favourite roasted veggies like cauliflower or potatoes, use it to make pesto pasta or top on tofu scramble.
Vegan Pesto Recipe


  • 2 cups basil tightly packed
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


  • In a food processor with the S-shape blade, add the basil, pine nuts and garlic. Pulse a few times to chop. Then add the lemon juice nutritional yeast and sea salt, pulse again to roughly combine.
  • Turn food processor to a low speed and drizzle in the olive oil. Continue blending together until mixture is combined, but there is still some texture.
  • Use pesto to toss with pasta noodles (350g), top on veggies like roasted cauliflower, asparagus and potatoes, spread onto toast, or use it as a salad dressing.


Pesto will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Keep in an air-tight container.
Pesto can also be frozen in a freezer safe container for up to 6 months. You can also divide out the pesto into ice cube trays for smaller portions. Transfer to a freezer safe bag once frozen. Let thaw to room temperature before using. 
This recipe can also be made using flat leaf parsley, instead of basil, for a parsley pesto! Give it a try!
Nutritional information is for the entire jar of pesto, not per serving.



Calories: 991kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 103g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 587mg | Potassium: 560mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2532IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 5mg

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  1. The best vegan pesto I’ve ever had! Did not have pine nuts so I subbed pistachios and it was perfect. Easy to understand instructions and just a delicious addition to our pasta. Thank you!