Simple Vegan Pesto

By • May 29, 2013 • 33 Comments

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Author Notes: This pesto is so good, you'll never notice that it's dairy-free! Nutritional yeast adds cheesy flavor. Serve this in sandwiches, with pasta, or as a topping for thickly sliced heirloom tomatoes.Gena Hamshaw

Makes 1 generous cup

  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  1. Place the basil, walnuts or pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse to combine, until the mixture is coarsely ground.
  2. Turn the motor on and drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream. Add the sea salt, pepper, lemon, and nutritional yeast, and pulse a few more times to combine.
Jump to Comments (33)

Tags: basil, herbs, nutritional yeast, pesto, spread, Vegan

Comments (33) Questions (0)

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about 1 month ago macarena

what is nutritional yeast??

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2 months ago Wild Bill

When I read that I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between this recipe and traditional pesto I was skeptical, but for the wrong reason. It's better than regular pesto. No butyric acid. No pukey smell or taste. Fabulous!

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2 months ago Zestilicious

This is hands down the best pesto I ever had. So easy to make and SO delicious. Will make sure to use in recipes on my Zestilicious.com vegan blog and circle back to this link! Thank you!

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3 months ago Angie Auffret

I just purchased a lovely bunch of basil from the farmers market. I am going to pick up a few ice trays and make this tonight!

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6 months ago Charity

I'm allergic to citrus. Lemon alternative?

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3 months ago Angie Auffret

you can leave it out...it's not required.

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7 months ago SDK

I substituted a bit of water for the olive oil - it was still delicious! Bumped up the garlic and lemon as well.

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7 months ago Therese

I just made this for my dairy allergy son, it is amazing!

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about 1 year ago Urvish Tamakuwala

I just made this recipe and used raw pistachios instead of the pine nuts and used a little more garlic. Delicious!

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about 1 year ago Trees

Just made this, and it's delicious! I only used about 1/4 cup of oil.

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about 1 year ago IvorieJenkins

I tried shelled hemp seeds as pine nut alternative. Turned out great and a great deal cheaper than using the pine nuts!

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about 1 year ago Karen

I am really happy to have found this recipe. Thanks! It tastes better each time I make it. I have found that 1/2 cup of oil is too much, though. I use about 3/8 cup ( 1/4 cup and then half of that). I used the 1/2 cup the first time and found the pesto too oily for my taste - especially if you use this as a sandwich spread, like I do sometimes. I also found that fresh lemon is better than bottled, and sea salt really is better than regular table salt, which I used when I didn't have sea salt. Yummy!

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about 1 year ago Kater

the nutritional yeast makes this incredible...best pesto I've ever made. Am headed out to the garden to decimate some more basil!

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about 1 year ago Cookie16

You know, my batch, made 3 days, ago has yet to brown at all in the fridge! Yay nutritional yeast! That must be the secret...

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about 1 year ago Cookie16

Made this last night — so very good! The nutritional yeast is a brilliant idea!

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about 1 year ago Shayna Teicher

Love it! I foresee myself making this many, many times.

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about 1 year ago Mare

I love this recipe and substitute pumpkin seeds for the walnuts or pine nuts. Also tried it using all three and that was really good as well.

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about 1 year ago LiVe

Could I use sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts/walnuts?

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over 1 year ago bd20009

This was amazing. My boyfriend -- who usually hates pesto with cheese -- loved this too.

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over 1 year ago Gena Hamshaw

Hooray!

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over 1 year ago Jacqui Wallace

Is there an alternative for nutritional yeast? I'm allergic to yeast but I'd like to try this if there is something I can substitute for it.

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over 1 year ago Jordan W-R

Thought the nutritional yeast is very yummy and does add a lot to the recipe, I tasted it before and after and you can totally leave the yeast out and still get a great pesto!

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3 months ago Kimba54

I use Go Veggie! parmesan style topping instead of nutritional yeast and it's really good. Not sure if it's made with yeast, though.

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over 1 year ago MyLime

This is so incredibly good! As a fellow vegan foodie, I didn't think I'd get to fully experience the richness of cheese-laden pesto ever again, but this is absolutely perfect (especially with some almond "parmesan" sprinkled on top!). Veganism-affirming. This belongs in the Genius Recipes.

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over 1 year ago Citygal

Would it be possible to make this in a blender, rather than a food processor (which I don't have)?

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over 1 year ago dorifern

To make it in a blender, you need more moisture. I've had success with both of these workarounds: 1) blanch the basil, removing it pretty much as soon as it hits the boiling water, then shock it in an ice bath. Gently squeeze out the extra water from the basil, add to the blender. Follow the rest of the recipe. It ever-so-slightly diminishes the strength of the basil flavor, but it does turn it a pretty, verdant green. Or, 2) add the oil to the blender first, then add the other ingredients, turn the blender on (low, if you have the choice) and start drizzling more oil until the pesto starts to pull together to blend. Hope that helps!