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No Compromise Vegan Pesto You Can Make Tonight!

Among the best fruits of summer’s labor are herbs and vegetables. The harvest of basil is short, so seize the opportunity to have it garden fresh and make some pesto. This no-compromise vegan pesto recipe is inspired by traditional pesto and offers all the same tastes and texture but is cruelty-free and without any saturated fat. That’s right – healthy pesto!

fresh-basil for vegan pesto
Fresh basil, growing on our deck, ready for harvest

You Can Grow Your Own for Amazing Vegan Pesto

If you have just a little outdoor space or a nice sunny spot inside, growing your own is easy and requires just a little attention. Get seedlings in the Spring and a medium-sized pot, and you will have the freshest available basil. The difference between store-bought is impressive, and no trip to the market!

You Can Tweak It Yourself, Too!

Basil pesto is not an exact science. If you have a favorite recipe that uses parmesan cheese, just substitute nutritional yeast to make a vegan alternative. I love pine nuts, but I don’t always have them on hand because they are often expensive. I have used walnuts, almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds and have never been disappointed. So feel free to experiment with this simple, basic recipe and discover your own new tastes!

Doesn't that look delicious? Get the pasta on, it's almost time to eat!
Doesn’t that look delicious? Get the pasta on, it’s almost time to eat!

(Serving suggestion: We love to also sprinkle a little vegan parmesan from Minimalist Baker on top for something a little extra.)

But, whether you are inclined to experiment or just want some vegan pesto right now, here is our recipe that is super easy. In just a few minutes, you will be enjoying delicious vegan pesto on pasta, crusty bread, grilled paninis, or pizza!

This Vegan Pesto is perfect on pasta!
Grilled pizza with mozzarella-style shreds, red onions, olives, and fresh arugula!

Give Hand-made a Try!

Making pesto by hand

For those of you who don’t have a food processor, you can go the traditional route and make pesto with a mortar and pestle. It requires a little more time, your energy, and a smaller batch but is wonderfully satisfying.  Even if you DO have a food processor a mortar and pestle is a beautiful kitchen tool to have. Take a look at our Kitchen Tool post all about them.

We love to see what readers make so please, post your photos on social media (we’re on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) and tag us so we can share, too. Happy pesto!

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No Compromise Vegan Pesto

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  • Author: Georgia @
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 - 1 1/2 cups 1x
  • Category: sauce
  • Diet: Vegan


The no-compromises delicious, rich taste of basil pesto without the dairy.


Units Scale
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (or a combination of available nuts)
  • 2 cups firmly packed basil leaves (if you’re a little short, some fresh parsley can be added to get the right quantity)
  • 1/41/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice, optional


  1. Place the nuts, the whole garlic cloves, and the nutritional yeast in the food processor and let it run until the cloves are crushed. I am always looking for ways to use less time and utensils, so this works for me.
  2. Add the basil and salt, and run it briefly
  3. Then add the oil. My processor has a hole in the top and I pour it in in a stream. You may need to scrape down the sides a few times.
  4. Run until completely blended. It should yield about 1 and 1/2 cups.


The final yield has a lot to do with just how much you pack the basil into your measuring cup.

Georgia is an unpretentious foodie who, at 50, transitioned from a vegetarian diet to a whole foods plant based diet and is loving it. She works as a nurse, plays as a quilter, loves to run, hates to race.
She thinks dogs are actually angels (in dog suits).

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. This is the best vegan cheesy sauce I’ve ever eaten. We added an extra clove and about 1/4 cup canola oil to stretch it a little farther. cheesier than most vegan cheese sauces. incredible

    1. Hi Tammy!

      The pesto will be fine for a day or two, refrigerated and in a tightly sealed container. Basil will start to go brown very quickly so it may discolor in that time (but still taste just fine). If you want to keep it for a while, and preserve the nice green color, you can freeze it. We just put it in a small ziplock bag and flatten it out. That way it will thaw out quickly.

      Greg & Georgia

      1. I use the snack sized bags and flatten them. I also peel the bag off the still frozen pesto into a bowl so I am not dealing with oily bags and scraping out all the little bits. I often use almonds (ground left over from making Parmesan) or walnuts. As you say, whatever nuts you have around work well.

    1. Hi Marianne! Thanks for the catch! You add the nutritional yeast at the very beginning with the pine nuts and garlic. Updating the post right now.

      Greg and Georgia

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