This delicious vegan walnut pesto tastes just like traditional pesto without the parmesan cheese or pine nuts! Made from six simple ingredients, have this vegan pesto recipe ready in less than 5 minutes!
WHY YOU'LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
Five minutes to make. Who said homemade pesto needs to be hard to make? Grab six simple ingredients, including vegan parmesan, walnuts, basil and olive oil, and place it in a blender or food processor! Blend until smooth and you have your own delicious pesto recipe ready to enjoy. It will rival your favorite store-bought pesto or restaurant pesto! If you enjoy other simple to make sauces, try my lemon butter garlic sauce or my spicy arrabiata sauce.
Versatile. I love using this vegan walnut pesto in and on everything! Whether I am making pesto pasta, as a dipping sauce for crusty bread, mixing it with olive oil and vinegar for a salad dressing, or putting it on hummus, the possibilities are endless when it comes to this sauce. See my list of ideas of how to use it at the bottom of this post!
Makes delicious leftovers. This dairy free pesto sauce reheats well and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It also freezes very well! Make a double patch or even triple batch and store it for later.
Fresh flavor. This recipe calls for fresh basil and lemon juice, making it full of fresh, summer flavor and the perfect summer pasta sauce. It is also a great way to use any basil you have on hand before it goes bad.
INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Fresh Basil. The base of this recipe is fresh basil leaves. Fresh basil works best, but frozen basil will also work! Allow it to thaw and remove any excess water before using it. I have also tested this recipe with parsley which also works well in this dairy-free pesto. If you have left over basil use it in my basil pesto vinaigrette.
Walnuts. I love using walnuts as the nut base in pesto. They are cheaper than pine nuts, which is what regular pesto is made of, and provide a mild nutty flavor that is full of healthy fats. Use raw walnuts and do not roast them. You can also use pine nuts, cashews or even sunflower seeds in its place.
Fresh Garlic. Fresh garlic adds the best, purest taste for this recipe. Pre-minced garlic can lose flavor and not be as strong, and garlic powder does not provide the same flavor. If you have a garlic intolerance, I recommend using a garlic infused olive oil in place of the extra virgin olive oil.
Fresh Lemon Juice. Make sure to use fresh lemon juice instead of bottled lemon juice for the best, bright flavor. Bottled lemon juice is watered down and you'll notice the flavor is not right.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Use a good quality olive oil, which will make this pesto smooth and creamy. I have not tried sunflower oil, avocado oil or any other oil in place of olive oil.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
Step 1. Remove the stems for the basil and roughly chop it. Then roughly chop the garlic and shred the vegan parmesan if it is on a block.
Step 2. Add all ingredients into a high speed blender or food processor and blend, scrapping the sides every 30 seconds, until all of the ingredients are blended and a smooth sauce forms that is bright green color. If you like a smoother pesto, add 2 tbsp - ¼ cup more of olive oil and blend again.
The wonderful thing about this pesto is that there are many ways to store it! It stores well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It also freezes really well. I like to freeze it using ice cube trays to make frozen pesto cubes! When ready to use, gently heat the frozen cubes in a sauce pan on the stove top or in a microwave safe container, heating at 30 second bursts.
WAYS TO USE THIS PESTO
There are so many ways to use this vegan pesto sauce, here are some of my favorites
- Pesto Pasta. Mix ½ cup of the pesto sauce with ½ lb of pasta. If you prefer it to be thinner, reserve 2-3 tbsp of pasta water and mix it in with the pasta and pesto.
- Creamy Pesto Pasta. While pesto pasta is delicious, sometimes it is nice to make it creamy! Mix ½ cup of pesto, ½ cup of vegan heavy cream or coconut cream and the pasta for a creamier pasta.
- Pasta Salad. I love making vegan tortellini salad with pesto sauce! You can also scoop 1-2 tbsp of this pesto into pasta salad to give it a flavor boost.
- Salad Dressings. Mix 2-3 tbsp of this walnut basil pesto sauce with ½ cup of olive oil and 1 tbsp of vinegar then drizzle on top of salad.
- Dipping Sauce. My favorite way to use pesto, add 1 tbsp of pesto with ½ cup of olive oil and 1 tbsp of balsamic.
- Toast. Toast your favorite bread then top it with this pesto. Top it with tomatoes, vegan eggs, vegan mozzarella and so much more to it! You can also add a layer to your avocado toast.
- Sandwich. Smother this pesto on your favorite sandwich. I like to pair it with leafy greens, roasted veggies, vegan mozzarella and sour dough.
- Pizza. Put this fresh basil walnut pesto on your favorite pizza! Whether you replace the tomato sauce with this sauce or you add dollops on top of the cheese, it is a delicious way to add flavor.
- Roasted Vegetables. Brush this pesto onto your favorite vegetables then roast them! You can also roast your favorite vegetables and dip them in this! I love eating it with roasted cauliflower.
Yes. While walnuts are commonly used for their mild, nutty flavor, you can substitute them with pine nuts, cashews, or even sunflower seeds.
While fresh basil is preferred for its vibrant, fresh flavor, you can use frozen basil if fresh is not available. Thaw and drain the basil before using it.
It is gluten free and uses gluten free ingredients. Just make sure your vegan parmesan is gluten free, which most are.
- Roughly chop your basil. While it may seem strange to do this because you are placing it in the food processor or blender, it is an important step. Basil that is not chopped can get stuck on the blades easily and slow down the process.
- Adjust the olive oil. If you prefer a drippier pesto, add more olive oil. If you prefer a thicker sauce, use less.
MORE SAUCE + PASTA RECIPES
Easy Vegan Walnut Pesto (dairy-free)
- Blender or High Speed Food Processor
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cup fresh basil roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup vegan parmesan shreds or grated
- ½ cup walnuts
- Salt + Pepper for taste
- Add all ingredients into a high speed food processor and blend until smooth, wiping the sides every 30 seconds. *If you prefer a dripper pesto, add ¼-1/2 cup more of olive oil.