Simple Vegan Pesto

By Gena Hamshaw
May 29, 2013
98 Comments


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
Prep time: 20 min

  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground pepper, plus more 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.

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Reviews (98) Questions (0)

98 Comments

Jessica August 24, 2018
What a great recipe. I'm raw vegan and really wanted to explore how to make pesto without Parmesan. The only thing was I had to drizzle a little water while blending to get it all puréed. Still it has great consistency and I poured it over my salad. Yum!
 
carol B. July 22, 2018
Great flavor and color, but the pesto separated. I had to add oil (slow drizzle) before all was mixed up due to lack of no fluid. How do people manage that? Smaller batches I guess. . I did this in my Vitamix. Maybe will try doing it next time in CuisineArt. Comments/suggetions?<br />
 
Jennifer D. July 4, 2018
This is delicious! I am cutting back on superfluous dairy; I don’t miss the cheese at all in this. I made mine in the blender (my only food processor type thing is a mini chopper), which was fiddly, but manageable. I did my nuts/garlic in two batches, scraped it out, followed by the basil in batches. I layered everything back into the pitcher then proceeded with the recipe as written (adding a bit more XVOO, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, then blending a final time). The secret to not wasting ANY pesto is to use a narrow bladed silicone spatula to scrape every last bit out. If you don’t mind all that fiddliness, then don’t bother buying a food processor (I never used my old one and it didn’t make the cut when we moved).
 
Lmp March 7, 2018
I wanted to love this but sadly, after following the recipe mostly to a tee, this pesto came out SO bitter. Could it have been the walnuts? Even after adding parsley and more olive oil, I had to throw it out. 😢
 
SD July 17, 2018
Probably. Try it with pine nuts. Always taste nuts before adding.
 
plantasia August 9, 2018
you probably added "brewers yeast" instead of "nutritional yest" brewers yeast is naturally very bitter while nutritional yeast is cheesy. :)
 
Rachel September 4, 2017
This is really really really good. Rivals any non-vegan pesto I've ever had. I can't believe how much "cheesy" flavor the nutritional yeast adds. Thanks for the recipe!