This 10-minute vegan pesto has all the classic and punchy flavors of Italian sauces, but none of the dairy. To make pesto without cheese, I substitute both nutritional yeast and mild miso for a bit of umami and a hint of funk. Miso is also naturally salty, so it helps season this vegan pesto recipe nicely. I have a bunch of recipes that call for this sauce, so I knew it was time to post my go-to version.
I like to go classic with a vegan basil pesto. Other greens are great in certain contexts – see the “Substitutions” heading below. But Tulsi is usually my first choice even though it is so well known. My favorite base is a 50/50 mix of pine nuts and walnuts. Pine nuts are common, but super expensive. I find that the buttery flavor of walnuts is quite complimentary. Olive oil is also an important ingredient, so I recommend using one that you really like the taste of. I’m a big fan of Brightland olive oil.
We use a food processor to whip up this vegan pesto super fast!
- You can use other leafy herbs in place of basil for a completely different flavor that is not at all traditional. I like a mix of parsley and mint for certain dishes. Kalmi or spinach paste is also fun to make!
- Pistachios or almonds work great in place of the pine nut/walnut mix. I prefer nuts for pesto that are more “meaty” (as opposed to soft and creamy ones like cashews).
- For a vegan pesto without nuts, look to toasted sunflower seeds!
How to store and freeze:
- As soon as you finish blending it in the food processor, transfer it to a sealable glass jar. Tap the jar on the counter a few times to steady it and get rid of air bubbles. Then, pour a thin film of olive oil on top to prevent browning or discoloration. Close the lid on top and store in the fridge. Pesto will keep this way for up to a week.
- Can you freeze pesto? Yes! Follow the same steps as you would for the fridge with the above oil film and store in the fridge for up to 6 months.
What to serve with vegan pesto:
I really hope you try my vegan pesto recipe! I am totally convinced that the miso makes a huge difference. Even for a person who likes nutritional yeast, I think too much of it can be heavy and take away from the fragrant basil. In this recipe, miso helps us achieve that perfect delicious balance with a small amount of nutritional yeast.
10-Minute Vegan Pesto
This vegan pesto recipe comes together very quickly in the food processor. A pine nut and walnut base is flavored with lemon, garlic, fresh basil, as well as miso and nutritional yeast for flavorful depth. Perfect for serving on pasta, pizza, roasted vegetables or mixed in dressings and salads.
serving 1 the cup
- ¼ the cup pine nuts
- ¼ the cup walnut
- 3 cloves Garlic, peeled
- 1 ½ table spoon Nutritional Scream
- 1 table spoon Light miso
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 4 the cup Fresh basil leaves, packed
- ⅓ – ½ the cup Olive oil, plus extra
- 1 table spoon lemon juice
- Pesto has very few ingredients, so I like to make sure I really enjoy the flavor of the olive oil I’m using and also use the freshest basil I can find.
- You can replace the pine nut/walnut combination with almonds, sunflower seeds, or pistachios. I like “spicy” nuts/seeds in pesto (as opposed to creamier ones like cashews or macadamias).
- A handful of baby spinach with basil makes the pesto extra green without overpowering the flavor.
Place the pine nuts and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Stir the nuts until they are a coarse, meal-like consistency.
In a food processor, add the garlic cloves, nutritional yeast, miso, salt, and pepper. Pulse until the garlic is finely chopped.
Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula. Then, add the basil all at once. Pulse until the basil is finely chopped.
Turn on the motor and pour the olive oil through the feed tube. I like my pesto a little more smooth and runny, so I use the full ½ cup. When the consistency is to your liking, turn off the motor.
Add the lemon juice to the pesto and stir slightly. Taste the pesto and adjust the seasoning if necessary (more salt, lemon, etc.).
Transfer the vegan pesto to a sealable jar. Bang the jar on the counter a few times to dislodge air bubbles. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface (to prevent browning). Close the lid on top and refrigerate for up to a week. You can freeze pesto for up to 6 months.