Pesto is such a fun and versatile topping that can be used on everything from plant-based pizza to minestrone soup, veggies and veggie wraps. Grab one of these vegan pesto recipes and go wild! Let your tastebuds revel in some homemade pesto made with bright herbs, quality olive oil and a few unique ingredients.
When I started eating a more plant-based diet, I remember feeling so sad saying goodbye to cheese (the main food group that was giving my digestive system issues). It was even more devastating when I thought I had to say goodbye to pesto, too!
After a bit of research, I learned that there is a whole world of vegan pestos (and they are amazing). It takes the same amount of time to make any of these recipes as traditional pesto, and the flavor is outstanding.
I don’t miss the dairy at all and my digestive system thanks me.
Table of Contents
5 Vegan Pesto Recipes
These simple recipes below will rawk your world! Each homemade option features a different nut and herb combo (and no pine nuts). While I love using nutritional yeast for its cheese-like flavor in my vegan parmesan cheese, it isn’t needed in any of these.
I’m highlighting the following pairings: walnuts + basil, almonds + basil, cashews + cilantro, pistachios + mint + parsley and almonds + arugula. Click on any of them to get to the recipe and enjoy the incredible fresh herbs and plant-based protein boost from a variety of ingredients.
This vegan basil pesto is simple to make and packed with plant-based ingredients. The garlic blends perfectly with the basil for an authentic Italian flavor.
Enjoy the best sun-dried tomato pesto recipe out there— I add it to pizza, salads, soups, toast and veggie bowls.
Add some tangy, spicy cilantro pesto to soups, top veggies, or use as a dip or spread. Cilantro is a natural detoxifying herb that pairs well with lime and serrano chiles.
Plant-based pistachio pesto recipe combines parsley and mint with roasted pistachios and lemon juice for a sauce that is vibrant and fresh.
Don’t toss that wilted arugula! Turn it into a fresh lemony arugula pesto instead. It’s especially delicious served with roasted veggies or as a base for avocado toast.
How To Make Vegan Pesto
Pesto began in Genoa, Italy, and is traditionally made with oil, herbs, nuts and seasoning with parmesan or Romano cheese. My homemade pestos are similar, yet omit the cheese. They are still richly flavored. There are a few methods to making this spread, depending on the consistency you want.
Tools to Make Pesto
The word “pesto” in Italian means “to pound or crush”. Back before food processors and blenders reigned, you had to grab a trusty mortar and pestle, then put some elbow grease into it.
Of course, nowadays, every kitchen counter seems to be home to all sorts of gadgets. (I still think there’s a place for a mortar and pestle in every kitchen!) My vegan pesto recipes use a food processor or blender since I know that most kitchens have either, yet feel free to use the traditional method if that’s your style.
If using a blender, make sure to use the low speed or pulse setting so you don’t liquify your pesto.
When making this spread the traditional way, you end up with an oily, gritty texture. Some people like this while others like a smoother paste. To achieve this you may need to add a bit more oil, make sure the herbs are chopped finely before blending, and don’t be afraid to blend a bit longer for the right texture.
Vegan Pesto Recipes FAQs
While pine nuts are great, there are so many other options! My recipes use pistachios, walnuts, almonds and cashews (not all at once) and they work incredibly well.
Vegan pesto isn’t that different from regular pesto, it just omits the cheese! You still get the texture and flavor you want, yet without the possible digestive issues.
Traditional pesto typically contains parmesan or Romano cheese. Vegan pesto omits this part yet is still richly creamy.
Pretty much everything and anything works with vegan pesto. Whether you need to avoid dairy, or just want to make delicious dip, there’s a recipe for you. Here’s how I use my recipes:
You can also spread it over top of a piece of hearty toast for a great snack or easy lunch.
I hope this guide was helpful and you try some of these homemade pesto recipes! I appreciate any comments or questions you want to leave in the comments section below.