This homemade dairy free pesto recipe comes together with 6 simple ingredients in less than 5 minutes! It has a delicious flavor, super creamy texture, and is extremely versatile.
Forget the store-bought pesto and make your own at home. It's quick, easy, and full of fresh flavor! Learn how to make classic pesto without parmesan cheese, plus things to make with this delicious spread.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Fresh pesto has an incredible aroma from the basil, olive oil, and garlic.
- This easy vegan pesto recipe is easy to adapt to fit various dietary restrictions.
- Last but not least, there's so many ways beyond pasta sauce to enjoy it.
This small kitchen appliance is one of my most-used and well-loved! A food processor is great for making homemade dips, dressings, and more.
Here's what you'll need to make this easy dairy-free pesto recipe! Plus my recommended substitutions.
- Fresh basil leaves: This is our main ingredient! If you don't have enough, add a bit of spinach to supplement.
- Pine nuts: Pine nuts have a mild, slightly sweet flavor with a buttery texture. Use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds for a nut free alternative.
- Olive oil: I prefer using extra virgin olive oil when making pesto, but avocado oil works great too.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is best but substituting with garlic powder works.
- Lemon juice: Using fresh lemon juice infuses your pesto with bright flavor. Use a citrus squeezer to extract all the lemon oil and juice.
- Nutritional yeast: This is my secret ingredient! Nutritional yeast flakes add a slightly nutty, cheesy flavor. It's an excellent plant based alternative to parmesan.
- Sea salt and black pepper: Just a pinch to enhance and balance the flavors.
How to make dairy free pesto
The full directions for this delicious pesto sauce are in the printable recipe card below.
Step 1: Chop basil
Pulse the fresh basil leaves in the food processor. This helps bring out its brightness and aromatics.
Step 2: Blend remaining ingredients
Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth or until desired consistency is reached.
Step 3: Serve and enjoy
Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Sometimes I'll add additional salt or lemon juice, for added flavor. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for flavors to really come together.
What to serve with pesto
- Serve your homemade pesto as a dip with crusty bread, leave a little texture for a sandwich spread, or turn it into pesto bruschetta with garden fresh tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes.
- Toss vegan pesto sauce with your favorite noodles for pesto pasta. I love gnocchi with dairy-free basil pesto.
- Thin it out and make a salad dressing! It's great on my kale crunch salad.
How to store leftovers
Store leftover pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto to keep it from turning brown.
- I like transfering pesto to silicone ice cube trays for smaller servings.
- Pesto cubes can then be thawed and used in soup!
Try these dairy free dips next:
- Kale pesto is a twist on traditional basil pesto. It's thick and creamy with a nutty flavor.
- This dairy free ricotta is the ultimate creamy vegan cheese substitute.
- Vegan tzatziki is made with yogurt, cucumber, and fresh herbs for a bright dip.
- Caramelized onion hummus is my favorite variation yet!
5-Minute Dairy Free Pesto Recipe
- 2 cups fresh basil
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Add the fresh basil leaves to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth or desired consistency is reached. If your basil pesto is too thick, add more olive oil to smooth it out.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Extra salt or lemon juice helps balance all the flavors.
- Serve immediately or store in the fridge for flavors to really come together.