Nut-Free Vegan Pesto | Only 6 Ingredients!

GFGluten Free

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This Nut-Free Vegan Pesto is easy, delicious, and made in only 5 minutes with 6 plant-based ingredients! Perfect for elevating the flavors of nearly any dish. Vegan, Nut-Free, & Gluten-Free.

This Nut-Free Vegan Pesto is creamy, herby, and bright in flavor. It is so easy to make that you’ll wonder how you went this long without slathering a little homemade pesto on just about every meal! ???? …Or maybe that’s just me?

close up photo of white bowl of pesto on cutting board with spoon in bowl

INGREDIENTS FOR NUT-FREE VEGAN PESTO

fresh basil, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, lemon, nutritional yeast, and garlic cloves on cutting board on marble countertop

This recipe is a nut-free, veganized take on classic pesto, but it will be just as delicious as the original! Pumpkin seeds are a buttery nut-free (and budget-friendly) substitute for walnuts or pine nuts, and nutritional yeast adds a cheesy tang while keeping things dairy-free. 

  • Pumpkin Seeds: also known as pepitas, these buttery seeds make a great nut-free alternative that mimics the buttery texture of pine nuts used in traditional pesto.
  • Garlic: Crushed garlic is a classic in pesto, bringing a big kick of flavor!  
  • Fresh Basil: is the pillar of all things pesto, packing loads of bright, herby flavor. 
  • Nutritional Yeast: will serve as our “cheese” for this dairy-free pesto. 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: another traditional pesto ingredient, olive oil adds creaminess and brightness 
  • Lemon Juice: The acidity in fresh lemon juice balances everything out and adds a bright zing of flavor. Opt for squeezing the lemon juice fresh; Trust me, the difference in taste will be worth it!

HOW TO MAKE NUT-FREE VEGAN PESTO

Ahhh, the simple yet rewarding process of making your own fresh pesto! *chef’s kiss* You simply blitz all of your ingredients in the food processor for about a minute and that’s it! 

  1. Add the pumpkin seeds, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, basil, chili flakes (if using), and salt to a food processor. Begin processing, then slowly pour in olive oil. Process until pumpkin seeds are finely chopped. 
  2. Season with additional salt or red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve immediately. Or, transfer to an air-tight container and store in the fridge!

blended pesto in food processor container on marble countertop

WAYS TO USE NUT-FREE VEGAN PESTO

Let’s be honest…pesto delicious on almost anything at any time of day — breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Here are a few of my favorite ways to use it: 

  • Tossed with pasta,
  • Drizzled on garlic bread or avocado toast,
  • As a marinade for veggies or vegan meats,
  • Tossed with baked potatoes,
  • Drizzled over or cooked with tofu scramble,
  • In DIY compound butter (mix with melted butter, then let chill), 
  • Or folded into homemade hummus!

There’s simply nothing quite like freshly-made pesto, so I’d suggest gobbling all of this up the day it’s made, but if you have any leftovers you want to keep for later, this will store in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

bowl of vegan pesto next to fresh basil, pumpkin seeds, and chili flakes

If you’re looking for more ways to use fresh pesto, you’ll also love this Avocado Pesto Pasta, this Pea Pesto Pasta, and this Creamy Pesto Pasta Bake with Sundried Tomatoes & Avocado!

Finally, if you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂

Print

Nut-Free Vegan Pesto

This Nut-Free Vegan Pesto is easy, delicious, and made in only 5 minutes with 6 plant-based ingredients! Perfect for elevating the flavors of nearly any dish. Vegan, Nut-Free, & Gluten-Free.

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 Minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: Makes ~1 cup
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: No-Bake
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/3 cup (48 g) pumpkin seeds or pepitas
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon*
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 ounces (55 g) fresh basil, de-stemmed (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) high-quality extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Blend: add the pumpkin seeds, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, basil, chili flakes if using, and salt to a food processor. Close the lid and begin to process, then use the opening in the device to slowly pour in the olive oil. Process for at least 60-90 seconds, or until the pumpkin seeds are finely chopped and have softened slightly.
  2. Store & Serve: season with additional salt or red pepper flakes, if desired. Use immediately, or transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the fridge for up to 7 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Notes

  • Pumpkin Seeds: there is no other nut-free substitute that I would recommend for this recipe, but pumpkin seeds can be replaced with pine nuts or walnuts.
  • Lemon Juice: lemon juice adds some brightness and acidity to the dish. Because it’s being used raw. it’s best to use fresh, as the carton/canned substitutes are often less flavorful.
  • Oil-Free: try these Pea Pesto or Avocado Pesto recipe instead!

Keywords: vegan pesto, dairy free pesto, pumpkin seed pesto, vegan pumpkin seed pesto

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About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. I made this because my daughter is starting preschool and one of the children is allergic to nuts but we love pesto! It is absolutely delicious! Best pesto I’ve ever made! I doubled the ingredients which i am now very glad of as we have lots to eat, yum! Thanks!

  2. Wow! The only pesto recipe we need in our household. Pesto at the supermarket are often acidic. Your pesto change the way every pesto recipe taste, FOR THE BETTER! Again, wow!

  3. Completely delicious. Made this for the pesto star bread and we had leftovers so we drizzled it on top of a baked ziti- soooo good 😋 can’t wait to make this in summer with basil from the garden

  4. This is a greater recipe! I made it twice now with exact recipe, and both turns out to be great. My husband is a great taste profiler, and he couldn’t tell what seeds are used! And he really liked it. This is going to be my go to recipe.

  5. I’m not good at cooking, but this recipe created fravourfull pesto! Now I can use all the Basil from my garden!

  6. Hey Caitlin, thank you for this easy, wonderful pesto recipe! I tried making it for the first time the other day, but I found it a bit too oily. Where have I gone wrong exactly? Hahaha

    1. You’re welcome, EJ! You may want to slowly incorporate the oil so you can adjust and see if it’s creamy enough to your liking or reduce it to 1/3 instead of 1/2 cup. Oil-Free: try these Pea Pesto or Avocado Pesto recipe instead!

  7. Super easy and delicious. I usually hate making sauces and getting another appliance dirty, but this was unintimidating. It is also a great way to use up a basil plant that’s growing like crazy. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. This pesto is so delicious! Dairy and nut free so my little one with food allergies can enjoy it too! So full of flavor!

  9. I love your pesto recipe!! My family can’t believe that it doesn’t contain cheese. The taste is so well balanced and it’s flavorful. <3

  10. Just wanted to come on here and say this pesto is absolutely delicious and I cannot believe I slept on making homemade pesto for so long. So worth it. Caitlin your recipe is so packed with flavor. The pesto pasta bake is in the oven as I write this comment! Thank you for such tasty recipes