Perfect Vegan Pesto – Connoisseurus Veg

This vegan pesto is perfect for pasta, pizzas, salads and more! It whips up in minutes and requires only six ingredients to make.

Bowl of Vegan Pesto on a wooden surface surrounded by basil leaves and pine nuts.

Ah, pesto. Pesto is one of my favorite things in the whole world.

But alas, pesto, by default, isn’t vegan.

Traditional pesto is made with Parmesan cheese, in case you didn’t know. There are a few vegan brands out there, but I can’t always find them at the store. And that makes life tough when you LOVE pesto as much as I do.

So I make it myself.

The good news is that that’s pretty easy to do! By simply omitting the Parmesan cheese, we can convert a traditional pesto recipe to vegan-friendly. This vegan pesto recipe is super simple! And it doesn’t even taste all that different from the conventional stuff, I promise.

But if you are missing the cheesy flavor in your pesto, I have a solution for that, which you can apply if you choose. Read on to learn all you need to know.

Jump to:

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Basil. Fresh basil is the key ingredient and flavor in homemade pesto. You will need a lot of it. If you can grow your own basil plant, fantastic! If buying store bought, you’ll probably need at least 3 or 4 medium sized bunches. Large leaf Italian basil or sweet Genovese are the types you’d use for conventional pesto, but you can absolutely experiment with different varieties.
  • Pine nuts. Pine nuts are traditionally used for pesto, but they can be replaced with other seeds or nuts if they’re unavailable. Walnuts and sunflower seeds make great substitutes. You can also try my pistachio pesto recipe.
  • Garlic.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Lemon juice. A bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice is optional, but it’s great for adding a little zip to your pesto that might be missing since we’re not using cheese.
  • Olive oil. Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Variation: If you really find yourself missing the flavor of cheese in your pesto, try adding a bit of nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese.

How It’s Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Place your basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice into a food processor bowl, along with half of your olive oil.

Tip: Don’t have a food processor? A blender should work for this recipe, but you’ll probably have to do quite a bit of scraping the inside of the pitcher and rearranging the contents in order to get everything blended. You could also grind your ingredients in batches using a mortar & pestle.

Basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor bowl.
  • Begin running the machine. Once the ingredients are pretty well mixed and finely chopped, start drizzling in the rest of your olive oil.
  • You can stop adding oil once the pesto reaches your desired thickness.

Tip: Want to reduce the fat/oil content of your pesto? Replace up to half of the oil with water. This will alter the consistency of the sauce, but it will still taste great.

Vegan Pesto in a food processor bowl.
  • Give your pesto a taste-test and make any adjustments you’d like. This might mean adding more salt, more lemon juice, or even more garlic.
  • Your vegan pesto is ready to enjoy!

Tip: Once you’ve gotten the basic recipe for vegan basil pesto down pat, you can experiment with other fresh herbs and greens. Try parsley, cilantro, spinach, arugula, and carrot greens. Stick with more delicate varieties that will blend well.

Bowl of Vegan Pesto with basil leaves in the background.

Shelf-Life & Storage

Homemade vegan pesto will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 5 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.

A great hack is to divide your pesto into single serving-sized portions (1 to 2 tablespoons), and freeze them in ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer your pesto cubes to a sealed container and thaw as many as you’d like to use at a time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this vegan pesto gluten-free?

It is!

How it pesto served?

Pesto is traditionally used as a sauce for dishes like pasta, pizza, or potatoes, but don’t let that stop you from using it in all kinds of ways! It’s great for spooning on crackers or baguette slices, dipping veggies and drizzling on salads.

What brands of store-bought pesto are vegan?

Amore brand is the most widely available store-bought brand of vegan pesto I’ve been able to find.

More Vegan Sauces & Salad Dressings

Like this recipe? If so, please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this one!

Bowl of Vegan Pesto garnished with fresh basil leaves.

Perfect Vegan Pesto

This vegan pesto is perfect for pasta, pizzas, salads and more! It whips up in minutes and requires only six ingredients to make.


  • 2
    fresh basil leaves,
  • ¼
    pine nuts
  • 3
    garlic cloves,
  • ½
    plus more to taste (I use ¾ teaspoon)
  • Black pepper,
    to taste
  • 1
    lemon juice
  • ½
    olive oil,
    divided (Note 1)


  1. Place the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and ¼ cup of olive oil into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade.

  2. Blend the ingredients to a thick paste, then begin drizzling in the remaining olive oil, adding it just until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.

  3. Taste-test the pesto and adjust any seasonings to taste.

  4. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

  1. You can replace up to half of the oil with water if you’d like to reduce the fat content. This will make your pesto more watery, but it will still taste great.
  2. Recipe makes about 1 cup of pesto.

Nutrition Facts

Perfect Vegan Pesto

Amount Per Serving (2 tablespoons)

Calories 140
Calories from Fat 140

% Daily Value*

Fat 15.6g24%

Saturated Fat 2g10%

Sodium 148mg6%

Potassium 50mg1%

Carbohydrates 1.1g0%

Fiber 0.3g1%

Sugar 0.2g0%

Protein 0.9g2%

Calcium 14mg1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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