How To Make a Plant-Based Pesto

How To Make a Plant-Based Pesto

Who says vegans can’t enjoy pesto? While traditional pesto is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians, there’s an easy, vegan pesto recipe that’s right here on the PlantX website!

Traditional pesto comes from Genoa in northern Italy, and is normally made by mixing fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and cheese (usually parmesan). Parmesan cheese is not vegan or vegetarian! That’s because it’s made with an enzyme called rennet that can be found in the stomach lining of goats and sheep.

How To Make a Plant-Based Pesto

But that doesn’t mean us vegans can’t enjoy this delicious, green sauce! Luckily, there are ways to make plant-based pesto that will go perfectly with a wide range of vegan meals. 

Read on for vegan pesto tips and tricks!


How to make Plant-Based Pesto

So what is the best way to make a plant-based pesto? The vegan pesto recipe below is pretty close to a traditional pesto, but we’ve also added in some pointers to help you make your vegan pesto a bit different!

Ingredients you will need for vegan pesto sauce: 

  • 2 cups basil, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup pine nuts / cashews / walnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (for that ‘cheesy’ flavor!)
  • A pinch of salt

Step 1:

Add your basil, nuts, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and salt to a food processor or small blender and blend ingredients together. 

Step 2: 

Add a little bit of olive oil at a time, or pour in slowly while the ingredients are mixing. Continue until the desired consistency is reached. Your pesto sauce should be thick but pourable!

Step 3: 

Taste your pesto and adjust flavors as needed. For example, it may need some extra lemon juice, or maybe more nutritional yeast for added ‘cheesy’ flavor. 

Step 4: 

Get eating! Use your vegan pesto sauce in all your favorite vegan meals. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to one week. 

5 tips on how to make your plant-based pesto shine:

  • If you’re allergic to nuts, opt for sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead! They make a great alternative.
  • If you are using nuts, you can take your vegan pesto to the next level by toasting them in a pan before blending. Make sure you let them cool down before blending with the other ingredients.
  • Garlic lovers out there might be interested in roasting the garlic in the oven before blending! It will give your vegan pesto a really rich, powerful flavor… 
  • Try swapping olive oil for a delicious, vegan avocado oil for something a bit different!
  • If you’re an adventurous cook, and love to experiment with new flavors, try adding in some capers or sun-dried tomatoes for a truly unforgettable vegan pesto sauce.

How to incorporate your plant-based pesto in vegan meals

How to incorporate your plant-based pesto in vegan meals

So you’ve made your vegan pesto sauce, and it’s fresh, creamy and delicious! But what’s the best way to incorporate your plant-based pesto into your vegan meals? 

Here at PlantX, we’ve got some ideas - we’ve even recommended the best products for making these meals a reality. Check them out below!

1. Vegan pesto pasta

Biona - Organic White Spelt Pasta, 500g

The obvious way to enjoy your freshly made, vegan pesto sauce is with a wholesome bowl of pasta. It’s a classic pairing and it’s quick, easy and super comforting! We would recommend Biona’s Organic White Spelt Pasta or Freee’s Organic Brown Rice Pasta.

2. Vegan pesto spread for sandwiches, wraps and bagels

If you’re tired of having the same old sandwich for lunch every day, why not swap your vegan mayo for your plant-based pesto? It tastes great with fresh or sun-dried tomatoes, some crunchy salad leaves and a vegan cheese like Koko’s Dairy Free Cheddar Cheese slices!

3. Vegan pesto salad dressing

Make salads less dull with a great, vegan dressing! Add some more olive oil to your pesto to give it a more runny consistency, then drizzle on salad leaves, fresh veg, nuts, seeds - you name it! 

4. Vegan pesto topping

This vegan pesto sauce is a great way to make your meals taste (and look) high quality. Swirl your pesto onto a vegetable soup, or dollop some onto a vegan pizza. It’s a sure-fire way to make your meals look picture-perfect!

5. Vegan pesto vegetable bake

Eating your five a day is easy if you’ve got some vegan pesto sauce! Drizzle it onto grilled or roasted veggies for a tasty and healthy side dish. Or, put your favorite veggies onto a baking tray and roast with the plant-based pesto. You can even tear up some vegan mozzarella to go on top and finish off with some breadcrumbs for a delicious veggie bake!


Here at PlantX, we think it’s important to show people how easy making simple switches to plant-based foods can be. This vegan pesto recipe has shown us that plant-based pesto is just as easy and simple to make as regular pesto. And it tastes as good too! So if it means eating delicious food while protecting animals and the planet - that sounds good to us.