5-Minute Dairy Free Pesto
This 5-ingredient, 5-minute dairy free pesto recipe is the most delicious homemade version of a beloved Italian staple! A freezer-friendly vegan pesto sauce that the whole family will love. Serve with pasta, sandwiches, salads, and more.
Table of Contents
What Makes This Recipe Great
There is nothing better than homemade pesto. The best part? Pesto feels like a super fancy pasta sauce, but is actually super quick and easy to make. My dairy free pesto sauce is so delicious, it will blow your mind that there is absolutely no dairy in it. Did I mention it’s also vegan, Whole30, and keto?!
Traditionally, pesto is made with a whole bunch of parmesan cheese in it. I left it out, added in a bit more salt, and it tastes like everything you love about pesto without any dairy at all!
There are so many ways to serve vegan pesto: on pasta, on sandwiches, and as a salad dressing. Or, use it in these favorite pesto recipes: Keto Summer Pasta with Pesto, Pesto Shrimp Kabobs, Keto Crispy Pesto Chicken, Pesto Meatballs, and more!
- 5 Minute Recipe
- Simple, fresh ingredients
- Vegan, Dairy Free, Whole30 & Keto Pesto Recipe
- Use for pasta, chicken, salad dressing, and more!
Watch How To Make Dairy Free Pesto
Fresh Basil: This vegan pesto recipe calls for 2 cups of fresh basil leaves. Make sure you really pack the basil in when measuring.
Olive Oil: May need 1 to 2 tablespoons more to reach consistency you desire. You can use extra virgin olive oil if preferred.
Pine Nuts: Use unsalted pine nuts (or whichever nut you have on hand.). You can find these at your local grocery store. Trader Joe’s carries them as well.
Garlic: Use fresh garlic or a jar of minced garlic will also work.
Salt: Use more or less to taste.
Pesto Without Pine Nuts
Pesto sauce is most commonly made with pine nuts, which is my favorite nut to use because they’re nutty, slightly sweet, and taste delicious when toasted.
However, pine nuts are very pricey. You can easily swap in another nut and still have a delicious vegan pesto.
I’ve made this basil pesto with almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans and pistachios. Each nut gives a tasty and unique flavor. Feel free to use whichever nut you have on hand.
Recipe Step by Step
My favorite way to make this pesto is in a food processor. It’s the easiest to scrape out because you can remove the whole blade. If you don’t have a food processor, a blender will work as well.
- In a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt. Pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped.
- Add in the olive oil, and blend until combined. If needed, add in more olive oil until desired consistency.
- Use immediately or store in a wide mouth pint mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Storage: This pesto will keep in a wide-mouth pint mason jar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 1 year. I store my pesto in wide-mouth pint mason jars since they’re freezer friendly!
Browning: To prevent the top of the pesto sauce from turning brown as it sits in the fridge (oxidizing), pour on enough olive oil to cover the whole top. This will prevent oxygen from reaching the pesto sauce and will keep it green. Not necessary, for looks only.
Freezing: This vegan pesto sauce freezes beautifully. I use wide-mouth pint mason jars to store them because they are freezer friendly. I thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and I can enjoy fresh pesto even in the middle of winter!
Ice Cube Trays: You can also freeze pesto in silicone ice cube trays to have a perfect portion of sauce whenever you need it!
Batches: I highly recommend you make a bunch of batches in the summer because that is when basil is at its peak freshness. For this reason, I plant lots of basil in my garden and also buy it in bulk at the farmer’s market.
Roasted Nuts: If your pine nuts are raw, roast them in a 350ºF oven for 5-8 minutes, until golden brown.
Lemon Juice: Some recipes call for lemon juice to add brightness, but I did not use it in this recipe. If preferred, add 1-2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice.
Nutritional Yeast: If you are really craving that “cheesy” taste without the dairy, add 3-4 tbsp of nutritional yeast. This will add a yummy, cheesy flavor, but it’s totally optional.
Yes! I’ve made this basil pesto with almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans and pistachios. Each nut gives a tasty and unique flavor. Feel free to use whichever nut you have on hand in the same quantity.
Add more olive oil until you reach your desired consistency.
Yes! All five ingredients are both dairy free and vegan.
This dairy free and vegan pesto sauce is just 1 net carb per serving, making it low carb and keto friendly.
Yes, this pesto is Whole30 compliant and a great way to jazz up any meal while on the program.
You’ll Love These Dairy Free Pesto Recipes…
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5-Minute Dairy Free Pesto
- 2 packed cups basil leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil, may need 1 to 2 tablespoons more to reach consistency you desire
- 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted pine nuts (or pecans, almonds or walnuts!)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt. Pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped. Add in the olive oil, and blend until combined. If needed, add in more olive oil until desired consistency.
- To prevent the top of the pesto sauce from turning brown as it sits in the fridge (oxidizing), pour on enough olive oil to cover the whole top. This will prevent oxygen reaching the pesto sauce, and will keep it green. Not necessary, for looks only.
- Will keep in a wide mouth pint mason jar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 1 year. I store my dairy free pesto in wide mouth pint mason jars since they're freezer friendly!
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70 Comments on “5-Minute Dairy Free Pesto”
I’ve made this several times, it’s so hood! Easy and quick & I don’t miss the cheese at all. My favourite way to eat it is on gnocchi with bacon.
Thank you, Jen! Pesto with gnocchi and bacon sounds DELISH!
This is our go-to pesto recipe! We drizzle a little paleo buffalo sauce on the prepared dish. Delicious!
Ooooh! The buffalo sauce drizzle is brilliant! Thanks for sharing!
I used roasted pistachios and loved it! Tossed with roasted chicken, zucchini noodles and cashew cream. So good. Thanks!
Yum! Thanks, Sally! So glad you liked it!
How much does this make? And how much do you need to use. I realize this would be left up to personal taste….but what serving amount was used to figure out nutritional value?
It makes 2 cups, and the serving size is 2 tablespoons for the nutritional information. Hope you love it when you make it!
I assume you store this in the fridge? Even though there is no dairy. How long does it last? Thanks, can’t wait to try it.
I store it in the fridge! It’s good for a while, at least 2 weeks. Or a year in the freezer!
Easy and yummy, didn’t miss the parmesan at all.
Right?! I am so glad you liked this recipe!
This recipe has made my dairy free life bearable! I have made it twice now and 😋! My husband just adds Parmesan after serving.
I love that you have already made it twice Nancy. It is fantastic that your husband enjoys it too!
I LOVE this recipe because it is the closest to the classic recipe I have used for years. Just swapped out the parmesan for more nuts! I used pecans in my latest batch and it’s amazing!! Thanks so much!
I agree, it is fantastic with pecans Nikki. So glad you are enjoying it.
Another A+ recipe! We planted basil in our garden for the first time this year and this recipe is the BEST pesto recipe we’ve found. Thank you so much for all of your amazing recipes
I too have so much basil in my garden Eileen. It’s a fantastic way to use my basil.
So quick and easy! Very good pesto recipe. I roasted the pine nut on the stovetop in a frying pan. This will be my new go to pesto recipe
So glad you liked it JenS!
I made this recipe using spinach instead basil, but otherwise I followed it to the T. AND OMG it was AMAZING. Will definitely be making again!!
I am so happy you liked my pesto Shanon! I love that you made it with spinach instead of basil. That sounds delicious! I am so glad you will be making it again.
So yummy! I couldn’t find pine nuts so I made this with roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds. Still so tasty. I’ll have to do a taste test as Right now I can’t really tell the difference between this batch and one made with pine nuts. Flavor is really mild and doesn’t taste like sunflower seeds at all.
I am so glad you liked my dairy free pesto Megan. I love that you were able to adapt the recipe with what you had on hand. It’s good to know the recipe worked well with sunflower seeds.
There’s nothing to replace the umami left out by omitting the parmigiano.
If you find you miss the parm/cheesy flavor in the dairy free pesto you could try to add nutritional yeast Josh. It has a very cheesy taste to it. I sure hope you like it!