Simple Vegan Pesto – Dairy Free Dip or Sauce Recipe


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (large stems removed)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (you can substitute walnuts, almonds, or sunflower seeds)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (adds a cheesy flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or slightly more, to taste)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons water (for desired consistency)


  • Prep the ingredients: Wash and dry your basil leaves. If using pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds, toast them lightly in a dry skillet to enhance their flavor (optional).
  • Combine: Add the basil, nuts, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt to a food processor or blender.
  • Pulse and blend: Pulse several times to chop the ingredients coarsely. Then, while the machine is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  • Adjust consistency: Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until your pesto reaches the perfect consistency – smooth and spreadable but not too runny.
  • Taste and season: Taste the pesto and adjust the salt, lemon juice, or nutritional yeast to your preference.

How to use your Vegan Pesto:

  • Pasta Sauce: Toss cooked pasta with pesto for a quick and flavorful meal.
  • Dip: Use as a dip for crackers, vegetables, or bread.
  • Spread: Spread on sandwiches or wraps for extra flavor.
  • Pizza topping: Instead of tomato sauce, try using pesto as a base for your pizza.
  • Salad dressing: Thin out with a bit more olive oil and lemon juice for a light vinaigrette.


  • Store pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • For longer storage, freeze the pesto in small containers or ice cube trays for up to 6 months.


  • For a brighter flavor, you can add a handful of fresh spinach or arugula along with the basil.
  • Play with other nuts or seeds—walnuts, cashews, almonds, or sunflower seeds are great alternatives.
  • If you don’t have nutritional yeast, you can omit it or add a bit of grated vegan parmesan cheese.

Enjoy your homemade dairy-free pesto!


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