Easy Homemade Vegan Pesto

Pesto is one of my absolute favorite sauces.  My website is filled with pesto recipes: Sautéed Chicken Cutlets, Roasted Carrots, Pesto Egg Cups, and more! I love the bursts of flavor from the slightly sweet and peppery basil leaves and the pungent and robust flavor of the garlic cloves accented by the bright pops of citrus from the lemon juice.  Pesto brightens up any sauce, soup, or marinade.

After going AIP, I learned that dairy and pine nuts were food triggers for me.  To still enjoy this delicious sauce, I set out on a mission to create a pesto sauce that was still packed with flavor but dairy-free and without the pine nuts.  By swapping the pine nuts for pumpkin seeds and parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast, I was able to make a pesto just as good as the original.

vegan pesto ingredients
vegan pesto ingredients

Simple Ingredients

  • Basil Leaves – There is no substitution for basil leaves, as that is the star of the show.  However, if you want to add some other fresh herbs for more pops of flavor, a couple of teaspoons of fresh oregano or parsley could be really fun.
  • Pumpkin Seeds – I wanted to make a nut-free pesto, and that’s why I use pumpkin seeds.  You can substitute these with any seeds or nuts that you would like.  Sunflower seeds would be great, and so would cashews or almonds.  If tolerated, stick with pinenuts.  They really are so delicious, but they make my mouth itch, so I try to avoid them.
  • Lemon Juice – Fresh is best in this recipe.
  • Garlic Cloves – For this recipe, there is no substitute for the real thing.  I do not recommend using garlic powder.  If you need to avoid garlic, 1 TBS of minced shallot can be used instead.
  • Olive Oil – There is no substitute for olive oil.  It has such a fresh and bright flavor and is perfect for pesto. The flavor profile of the olive oil shines in this dish, so be sure to use high-quality olive oil.  If you are out of olive oil and do not want to run to the store, you could use avocado oil, but the flavor is better with olive oil.
  • Salt – Just a little pinch is all you need.  You can also add pepper if you would like.
  • Nutritional Yeast – Nutritional Yeast naturally has a cheesy taste to it and can be added instead of the parmesan cheese traditionally found in pesto.
vegan pesto

Easy Homemade Vegan Pesto

Sarah Erickson
This recipe can be used for all of the pesto recipes on my blog!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Course Meal Prep
Cuisine American


  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast optional


  • Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until desired texture is achieved.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Keyword dairy free, gluten free, homeade, pesto, vegan

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply