Vegan pesto, a delicious Italian sauce, made in 5 minutes with nutritional yeast instead of cheese, and a healthy and light plant-based alternative.
This vegan pesto is one of those things you can eat with pretty much everything: on toast, as a salad dressing, with pasta, rice, potatoes, veggies, legumes, etc.
Classic Genovese pesto is made with olive oil, fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and Parmesan cheese. I love extra virgin olive oil, but it has a strong flavor, so use regular olive oil if you’re not used to it.
To make a vegan version, I use nutritional yeast instead of the cheese, but it’s also delicious with my vegan Parmesan cheese.
Some recipes include other ingredients. I like to add some ground black pepper and some lemon juice. Some people also add lemon zest, but I don’t, as I think it’s perfect this way.
I had always made pesto in a food processor (a regular blender is also a good choice, but the consistency is better if you use a food processor), until I discovered you can make pesto with an immersion blender, which is super easy to clean. Besides, the texture is AMAZING!
vegan pesto ingredients
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this vegan pesto recipe:
- Fresh basil leaves – Classic pesto is made with basil, but if you can’t find it in your area or it’s too expensive for you, use fresh spinach, kale or other greens instead.
- Extra virgin olive oil – Traditional pesto is made with olive oil, but I guess you could use other type (except coconut oil). I always use extra virgin oils when possible because they’re healthier.
- Nutritional yeast – This ingredient gives the pesto the cheesy flavor. You could also use my vegan Parmesan cheese for a more intense flavor. I would omit the salt, though. However, I prefer to use nutritional yeast as is more affordable, lower in calories and also more convenient.
- Pine nuts – Some recipes call for raw pine nuts and others for toasted pine nuts, it’s up to you. I prefer raw pine nuts, as they’re more nutritious and I also save some time if I don’t have to toast them. However, if you use toasted pine nuts, your pesto will have a more intense flavor. If you can’t find pine nuts or they’re expensive in your area, please feel free to add any other nuts or even seeds instead. Walnuts are my favorite alternative.
- Lemon juice – This ingredient is optional, but I feel the pesto tastes better when I use it, and it’s also a good natural preservative. Some people also add some lemon zest.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic is ideal, but I guess you could add garlic powder if it’s the only thing you have on hand.
- Salt – I always use Himalayan pink salt. Any type of salt is okay, though.
- Ground black pepper – Fresh ground black pepper tastes amazing. However, I find store-bought more convenient and also easier to measure with a teaspoon.
how to make vegan pesto
- You can make this recipe using an immersion blender or a food processor. A regular blender will do, though. However, I prefer to use an immersion blender because it’s so easy to clean.
- Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and blend with the immersion blender until smooth.
- Use immediately or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 to 7 days.
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- 1 cup fresh basil leaves (about 0.7 oz or 20 g), large stems removed
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (4 tbsp)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp pine nuts (raw or toasted)
- 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
- 1 clove of garlic
- Dash of salt
- Dash of ground black pepper
- Add all the ingredients to a bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. You can also use a food processor (or even a regular blender) instead, but I prefer to use an immersion blender because it’s easier to clean.
- Serve immediately or keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. Pesto is delicious on bread, or with pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.
- Serving Size: 1 tbsp
- Calories: 91
- Sugar: 0.6 g
- Sodium: 22 mg
- Fat: 8.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 2 g
- Fiber: 0.9 g
- Protein: 2.2 g