This is my favorite vegan basil pesto recipe! Bursting with delicious flavors of fresh basil, citrusy lemon, garlic, pine nuts, and seasoning. This is a recipe I make all summer long and add to many dishes.

One of my favorite dishes to add vegan basil pesto to is vegan lasagna roll-ups with pesto ricotta. The basil pesto takes this lasagna to a new level and adds such a beautiful color to the vegan ricotta.

Vegan basil pesto served on a white plate

If you are looking for a quick one pot pasta recipe, try my vegan one-pot mushroom pesto pasta. And don’t forget to check out these smashed potatoes with pesto for a fun recipe the whole family will love.

Vegan basil pesto is a perfect sauce for so many recipes. It is great on pasta, pizza, potatoes, rice, and anything else you can think may just be a little better with some pesto. This is an easy and quick recipe.

Why you will love vegan pesto? 

It is hard to find words to describe my enthusiasm for this versatile sauce. I don’t think the world would be the same without it, at least not the culinary world.

  • Vegan Pesto is versatile: It is one of my absolute favorite additions to pasta, pizza, soups, and vegetables.
  • Easy to Make: Vegan basil pesto is very easy to make and can add such flavor to any dish.
  • Flavorful: Basil’s flavour profile and aroma are tremendous recipe enhancers, and pesto really highlights the flavour of this important herb.
  • Vegan Basil Pesto is an important sauce/dip in your menu line-up.
Quick and easy basil pesto served in a white bowl

Let’s Talk Vegan Pesto Ingredients:

There is nothing that smells like summer quite like pesto. Eagerly we start the basil seeds in early spring, and it’s an impatient wait until we harvest our first basil leaves. But it is always worth the wait. And basil produces all summer long in New England, so we are blessed with an abundance.



Basil is the main ingredient in pesto. It has an incredible flavor that adds boatloads of character to any dish. It also has a variety of different health benefits.


I add some parsley to my pesto for two reasons. One, it adds to the green color, and two, it adds to the flavor. Parsley is another herb containing multiple nutrients and antioxidants.

Nutritional Yeast:

Nutritional Yeast adds a beautiful flavor to the vegan pesto. It replaces the parmesan cheese traditionally used in pesto. I have had several people tell me that this is their favorite pesto recipe vegan or otherwise.

Pine nuts or Walnuts:

Traditionally pine nuts are used in a pesto sauce, which adds a sweet and delicate nutty taste to the pesto. We have found that pine nuts can be substituted with walnuts if need be.

Crushed Red Pepper:

You may be tempted to omit this ingredient as it is a spicy ingredient, but somehow it seems to elevate the flavor profile in this vegan pesto. We only add a touch, and you can add more or less as you see fit, but I would encourage you to try it with the crushed red pepper the first time around.

Good Quality Olive Oil:

Since this is a raw sauce, it is worth a good quality, cold-pressed olive oil. Naturally, the quality of the olive oil will enhance the sauce, but to be frank, we make this with regular olive oil too, when a good quality one is not available.  

Fresh Garlic:

We love garlic, and we often throw a little extra garlic in this recipe, but I would encourage you to follow the recipe the first time you make it, then you will know how to adjust next time around. Raw garlic can easily be a little overwhelming, but it makes such a difference in this sauce.

Fresh Lemon:

We also add a touch of fresh lemon juice to the vegan pesto. It really brightens the flavor. Anything taste better with a little lemon, right?

Vegan basil pesto served in a white bowl with fresh basil and pine nuts

How to make vegan pesto?

Vegan Basil Pesto is super easy to make. 

  • In a food processor, add basil, parsley, pine nuts, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, and salt.
  • Pulse into a rough paste, scraping down the sides occasionally.
  • Then, slowly add the olive oil to the paste while the food processor runs.

 The vegan basil pesto is now ready to use.  

Vegan Basil Recipe Variations

  • Nuts:  Use Walnuts or Pistachio nuts instead of pine nuts.  
  • Herbs:  Replace half the fresh basil with parsley for a different taste.  
  • Cheese:  Add some vegan parmesan, homemade or store-bought, for a different flavor twist.  

How to use vegan pesto?

Vegan Basil Pesto is one of those versatile sauces that elevate other dishes to another level. 

Flavor Enhancer:  Use it to enhance the flavor of soups, pasta dishes, vegetables, and more. Even just a tablespoon of pesto in a soup or pasta dish will add an element of flavor that will awe your family and friends. 

Pasta: The most traditional way to use basil pesto is to add it to plain pasta. A little goes a long way, so add just enough to achieve the desired flavor.  I love this vegan one-pot mushroom pesto pasta recipe.

Vegetables:  Pesto can take your boring vegetable from ordinary to extraordinary. I love this fun smashed potatoes with pesto recipe or my whole roasted cauliflower stuffed with pesto. Can’t forget about the deliciousness of this broccoli and pesto combination with my quick pesto roasted broccoli recipe.

Pizza:  Pesto makes an incredible pizza sauce instead of traditional marinara sauce or as a drizzle after baking.

French Bread & Garlic bread:  Pesto makes an incredible spread for fresh crusty bread and garlic bread. Try my favorite vegan garlic knots for a delicious and fun recipe that the whole family will love.

Sandwiches: Add a touch of pesto to your sandwiches and be amazed at the transformation. Serve with plant-based deli meat for an amazing combination.

Dairy free basil pesto in a white bowl with a spoon

How to preserve vegan pesto:

One of the issues with pesto is that the color can turn brown if not stored correctly. This can be avoided by placing it in an airtight container, cover the top with olive oil, and put a layer of cling wrap right over the top. Keep in fridge until ready to serve. Remove the cling wrap, stir in the oil, and serve immediately.

When I need the pesto to stay green for any length of time, I blanch the basil for a couple of seconds in boiling water and then immediately into ice water. This enhances the color, and it stays green much longer. The drawback is that it changes the consistency slightly. Some do not mind this, but I only do this when absolutely necessary.

It takes only a few minutes to pull together this wonderful vegan pesto sauce, a quick and easy sauce to add to your favorite dish.


Is pesto vegan?

Traditional pesto is not vegan because it contains parmesan cheese. If you were to use vegan parmesan cheese, the traditional recipe would be vegan. However, pesto is also super delicious without the parmesan cheese. In fact, Vegan Pesto is lighter and brighter, and don’t be surprised if you like it better than the original pesto. Besides, it’s a great way to make pesto a little healthier.

Can you make pesto without parmesan?  

Yes, you can. You may be surprised at how delicious pesto is without the cheese.

What vegan Parmesan would you recommend?  

I have a homemade recipe for parmesan that is absolutely delicious. My sister likes it better than the other vegan options. However, when I am in a hurry and need to buy a vegan parmesan option, I like Trader Joe’s and Violife Vegan Parmesan the best.

What vegetables go with pesto pasta?

In my book, pesto goes with just about any vegetable, though I can think of a few that are particularly delicious, such as smashed potatoes, pesto broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower stuffed with pesto. Pesto is one of those additions that can add sparkle to ordinary dishes. Keep some Vegan Basil Pesto in your freezer to quickly add to many dishes.

Can I make vegan pesto without nutritional yeast?

Yes, absolutely. Nutritional yeast gives the Vegan Basil Parmesan its cheesy flavor, but it can be eliminated or replaced with vegan parmesan, homemade or store-bought.

Can I freeze vegan pesto?

Yes, vegan basil pesto freezes really well. The easiest way is to divide the pesto into smaller portions before freezing; then you can just add a portion to the recipe as you cook it. Vegan basil pesto lasts up to 3 months in the freezer.

Watch My Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe Video:

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Quick & Easy Pesto served in a white bowl

Vegan Basil Pesto

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Chef Ani
  • Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


Bursting with delicious flavors of fresh basil, citrusy lemon, garlic, pine nuts, and seasoning. This is a recipe I make all summer long and add to many dishes.


  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted or un-toasted) *
  • 34 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


  • In a food processor, add basil, parsley, pine nuts, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, and salt.
  • Pulse into a rough paste scraping down the sides occasionally.
  • Then slowly add the olive oil to the paste while the food processor is running.