Vegan Pesto Easy Italian How To Recipe

vegan basil pesto

Discover the incredible taste of a homemade Italian vegan pesto. This delightful sauce combines fresh basil, creamy pine nuts, fragrant garlic, and a touch of nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan). Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and perfectly seasoned, this plant-based treasure elevates every dish it accompanies. Whether enjoyed immediately or stored in the fridge, this irresistible pesto is ready to enhance your meals. Buon Appetito!

Ingredients & Substitutions For This Vegan Pesto Recipe

Let’s delve into the ingredients that make up this delightful homemade Italian vegan pesto and consider some potential substitutions.

Fresh basil takes the spotlight, infusing the sauce with its vibrant and aromatic essence. However, for a unique flavor experience, feel free to experiment with alternative herbs like cilantro or parsley in place of basil.

Creamy pine nuts bring a rich and nutty flavor to the mix, but if you don’t have them, don’t worry—sunflower seeds or walnuts can be excellent substitutes.

Fragrant garlic adds depth and complexity, while nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan) contributes a cheesy and umami taste. Finally, olive oil helps the pesto achieve a smooth and luscious texture

Let your creativity shine as you adapt the ingredients to match your taste preferences and dietary requirements. Embrace the freedom to explore different substitutions and craft your very own signature version of this irresistible pesto.

Helpful Tools

  • Food processor or blender: Using a food processor or blender will make quick work of blending the fresh basil, pine nuts (or substitutes), garlic, and other ingredients into a smooth and creamy pesto. It ensures a consistent texture and saves you time and effort.
  • Sharp chef’s knife: A sharp chef’s knife is indispensable for finely chopping the garlic and basil leaves. Its precision allows you to achieve the desired texture and ensures even distribution of flavors throughout the pesto.
  • Cutting board: A reliable cutting board provides a stable surface for safely chopping and preparing the ingredients. It protects your countertops and makes the process more organized and efficient.
  • Airtight storage container: To keep your vegan pesto fresh and flavorful, it’s essential to store it properly. An airtight container or jar will help maintain its vibrant taste and prevent oxidation in the refrigerator. It allows you to enjoy the pesto over several meals.

How to Make Vegan Pesto

Begin by preparing your ingredients. Remove the stems from the fresh basil leaves, and if using pine nuts, make sure they are ready for blending. Peel the garlic cloves, and gather the extra virgin olive oil, nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan), fresh lemon juice (optional), and salt.

vegan pesto in glass jar

In a food processor or blender, add the olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts (or chosen substitute). Blend the ingredients until they are fully combined and form a smooth mixture.

Next, add the fresh basil leaves, salt, and nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan). Blend the ingredients again until you achieve a slightly grainy texture. Be careful not to over-process the basil, as we want to avoid heating it up during this step.

vegan basil pesto recipe in white bowl

Once blended, your vegan pesto is ready to be enjoyed immediately. However, if you prefer to store it for later use, transfer it to a jar or airtight container. To keep it fresh in the fridge, top the pesto with a small amount of olive oil.

Now, you have a versatile and flavorful Italian vegan pesto at your disposal. Use it as a spread, toss it with pasta, drizzle it over roasted vegetables, or incorporate it into your favorite recipes. The possibilities are endless!

Tips & Tricks

  • Use quality ingredients: Opt for fresh, high-quality ingredients to ensure the best flavor in your pesto. Look for vibrant and fragrant basil, and choose pine nuts or alternative substitutes that are fresh and of good quality.
  • Adjust seasoning: Taste your pesto as you go along and adjust the seasoning according to your preference. Add more salt, nutritional yeast, or lemon juice to enhance the flavors and achieve the perfect balance.
  • Consistency control: Be mindful of the consistency of your pesto. If you prefer a thicker texture, use less olive oil. For a smoother and more liquid consistency, gradually add more oil until you reach your desired thickness.
  • Storage and shelf life: To prolong the shelf life of your pesto, ensure it is stored in a clean, airtight container or jar. Press a thin layer of olive oil on top to create a seal and prevent oxidation. Properly stored, the pesto can typically stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • Creative variations: While the classic Italian vegan pesto recipe is a crowd-pleaser, don’t be afraid to experiment with variations. Add a handful of spinach or arugula for an extra burst of green goodness, or incorporate roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes for a unique twist.
  • Make it in batches: Consider making larger batches of pesto and freezing it in smaller portions. This way, you’ll have a convenient supply of pesto ready to go whenever you need it. Simply thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature before use.

FAQ: Vegan Pesto Recipe

Can I use a different herb instead of basil?

Absolutely! While basil is the traditional herb used in pesto, you can experiment with other herbs like cilantro or parsley for unique flavor profiles. Feel free to get creative and tailor the recipe to your taste preferences.

Can I substitute pine nuts with other ingredients?

Yes, you can substitute pine nuts with sunflower seeds or walnuts. They offer a similar texture and add their own delicious nutty flavors to the pesto. Feel free to choose the option that suits your taste or what you have available in your pantry.

Can I store the pesto for a long time?

While pesto is best enjoyed fresh, you can store it in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to one week. To maintain its vibrant green color and flavor, top the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil before sealing.

Can I freeze the pesto?

Absolutely! Freezing pesto is a great way to preserve it for longer periods. Portion it into small freezer-safe containers or ice cube trays, and freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature before using.

Is vegan parmesan necessary for the recipe?

Vegan parmesan is a common ingredient in vegan pesto to add a cheesy and savory taste. However, if you don’t have it on hand, nutritional yeast can provide a similar flavor profile. Adjust the quantity to your preference or omit it if desired.

vegan pesto recipe glass jar

Vegan Pesto Easy Italian How To Recipe

This homemade Italian vegan pesto recipe offers a burst of flavors with its fresh basil, creamy pine nuts, fragrant garlic, and delightful seasoning. Whether you enjoy it immediately or store it for later use, this versatile pesto is ready to elevate your meals and bring a taste of Italy to your table.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Sauce, Vegan Basics
Cuisine Italian, Vegan


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil (remove stems)
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts (substitute sunflower seeds or walnuts)
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 3 + tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan cheese)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • salt to taste (start with a pinch)


  • To a food processor, add olive oil, garlic and pine nuts. Blend until fully combined.
  • Next, add the fresh basil, salt and nutritional yeast. Blend until you have a slightly grainy texture. Add more olive oil as needed. Be careful not to over-process the basil, as we don't want it to heat up during this process.
  • Serve immediately, or place in a jar and top with a little olive oil to keep it fresh in the fridge. Buon Appetito!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


Making your own Italian vegan pesto is a rewarding experience that allows you to savor the vibrant flavors of fresh ingredients. With simple tools, quality ingredients, and a little creativity, you can create a mouthwatering pesto that enhances a variety of dishes. Whether you toss it with pasta, spread it on bread, or incorporate it into your favorite recipes, this homemade pesto is sure to impress your taste buds. Embrace the joy of homemade goodness and Buon Appetito!

2 thoughts on “Vegan Pesto Easy Italian How To Recipe

  1. Christine says:

    5 stars
    This was delicious I used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts and came out amazing. Thank you

    • spicyveganfood says:

      Hi Christine, thank you so much for the feedback, I also have made this with sunflower seeds for a family member that is allergic to tree nuts and was also very nice!

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