5-Minute Dairy Free Pesto

This 5-ingredient, 5-minute dairy free pesto recipe is the most delicious homemade version of a beloved Italian staple! A freezer-friendly vegan pesto sauce that the whole family will love. Serve with pasta, sandwiches, salads, and more.

Table of Contents

What Makes This Recipe Great

There is nothing better than homemade pesto. The best part? Pesto feels like a super fancy pasta sauce, but is actually super quick and easy to make. My dairy free pesto sauce is so delicious, it will blow your mind that there is absolutely no dairy in it. Did I mention it’s also vegan, Whole30, and keto?!

Traditionally, pesto is made with a whole bunch of parmesan cheese in it. I left it out, added in a bit more salt, and it tastes like everything you love about pesto without any dairy at all! 

There are so many ways to serve vegan pesto: on pasta, on sandwiches, and as a salad dressing. Or, use it in these favorite pesto recipes: Keto Summer Pasta with Pesto, Pesto Shrimp Kabobs, Keto Crispy Pesto Chicken, Pesto Meatballs, and more!

Recipe Highlights

  • 5 Minute Recipe
  • Simple, fresh ingredients
  • Vegan, Dairy Free, Whole30 & Keto Pesto Recipe
  • Use for pasta, chicken, salad dressing, and more!

Watch How To Make Dairy Free Pesto

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Ingredient Notes

Fresh Basil: This vegan pesto recipe calls for 2 cups of fresh basil leaves. Make sure you really pack the basil in when measuring. 

Olive Oil: May need 1 to 2 tablespoons more to reach consistency you desire. You can use extra virgin olive oil if preferred. 

Pine Nuts: Use unsalted pine nuts (or whichever nut you have on hand.). You can find these at your local grocery store. Trader Joe’s carries them as well. 

Garlic: Use fresh garlic or a jar of minced garlic will also work. 

Salt: Use more or less to taste. 

Pesto Without Pine Nuts

Pesto sauce is most commonly made with pine nuts, which is my favorite nut to use because they’re nutty, slightly sweet, and taste delicious when toasted.

However, pine nuts are very pricey. You can easily swap in another nut and still have a delicious vegan pesto. 

I’ve made this basil pesto with almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans and pistachios. Each nut gives a tasty and unique flavor. Feel free to use whichever nut you have on hand.

Recipe Step by Step

steps to making pesto sauce in a food processor

My favorite way to make this pesto is in a food processor. It’s the easiest to scrape out because you can remove the whole blade. If you don’t have a food processor, a blender will work as well. 

  1. In a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt. Pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped. 
  2. Add in the olive oil, and blend until combined. If needed, add in more olive oil until desired consistency.
  3. Use immediately or store in a wide mouth pint mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
pesto in a mason jar on a white background

Expert Tips

Storage: This pesto will keep in a wide-mouth pint mason jar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 1 year. I store my pesto in wide-mouth pint mason jars since they’re freezer friendly!

Browning: To prevent the top of the pesto sauce from turning brown as it sits in the fridge (oxidizing), pour on enough olive oil to cover the whole top. This will prevent oxygen from reaching the pesto sauce and will keep it green. Not necessary, for looks only.

Freezing: This vegan pesto sauce freezes beautifully. I use wide-mouth pint mason jars to store them because they are freezer friendly. I thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and I can enjoy fresh pesto even in the middle of winter!

Ice Cube Trays: You can also freeze pesto in silicone ice cube trays to have a perfect portion of sauce whenever you need it! 

Batches: I highly recommend you make a bunch of batches in the summer because that is when basil is at its peak freshness. For this reason, I plant lots of basil in my garden and also buy it in bulk at the farmer’s market. 

Roasted Nuts: If your pine nuts are raw, roast them in a 350ºF oven for 5-8 minutes, until golden brown.

Lemon Juice: Some recipes call for lemon juice to add brightness, but I did not use it in this recipe. If preferred, add 1-2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice. 

Nutritional Yeast: If you are really craving that “cheesy” taste without the dairy, add 3-4 tbsp of nutritional yeast. This will add a yummy, cheesy flavor, but it’s totally optional.

pesto in a mason jar on a white background

Recipe FAQs

Can I make this pesto without pine nuts?

Yes! I’ve made this basil pesto with almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans and pistachios. Each nut gives a tasty and unique flavor. Feel free to use whichever nut you have on hand in the same quantity. 

What if my vegan pesto is too thick?

Add more olive oil until you reach your desired consistency.

Is this pesto dairy free and vegan?

Yes! All five ingredients are both dairy free and vegan.

Is this pesto keto friendly?

This dairy free and vegan pesto sauce is just 1 net carb per serving, making it low carb and keto friendly. 

Is this recipe Whole30 compliant?

Yes, this pesto is Whole30 compliant and a great way to jazz up any meal while on the program. 

You’ll Love These Dairy Free Pesto Recipes…

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5-Minute Dairy Free Pesto

This 5-ingredient, 5-minute dairy free pesto recipe is the most delicious homemade version of a beloved Italian staple! A freezer-friendly vegan pesto sauce that the whole family will love. Serve with pasta, sandwiches, salads, and more.

5 from 5 ratings

  • In a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt. Pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped. Add in the olive oil, and blend until combined. If needed, add in more olive oil until desired consistency.

  • To prevent the top of the pesto sauce from turning brown as it sits in the fridge (oxidizing), pour on enough olive oil to cover the whole top. This will prevent oxygen reaching the pesto sauce, and will keep it green. Not necessary, for looks only.

  • Will keep in a wide mouth pint mason jar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 1 year. I store my dairy free pesto in wide mouth pint mason jars since they’re freezer friendly!

Storage: This pesto will keep in a wide-mouth pint mason jar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 1 year. I store my pesto in wide-mouth pint mason jars since they’re freezer friendly!
Browning: To prevent the top of the pesto sauce from turning brown as it sits in the fridge (oxidizing), pour on enough olive oil to cover the whole top. This will prevent oxygen from reaching the pesto sauce and will keep it green. Not necessary, for looks only.
Freezing: This vegan pesto sauce freezes beautifully. I use wide-mouth pint mason jars to store them because they are freezer friendly. I thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and I can enjoy fresh pesto even in the middle of winter!
Ice Cube Trays: You can also freeze pesto in silicone ice cube trays to have a perfect portion of sauce whenever you need it! 
Batches: I highly recommend you make a bunch of batches in the summer because that is when basil is at its peak freshness. For this reason, I plant lots of basil in my garden and also buy it in bulk at the farmer’s market. 
Roasted Nuts: If your pine nuts are raw, roast them in a 350ºF oven for 5-8 minutes, until golden brown.
Lemon Juice: Some recipes call for lemon juice to add brightness, but I did not use it in this recipe. If preferred, add 1-2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice. 
Nutritional Yeast: If you are really craving that “cheesy” taste without the dairy, add 3-4 tbsp of nutritional yeast. This will add a yummy, cheesy flavor, but it’s totally optional.

Calories: 175, Total Carbs: 1.9g, Protein: 1.8g, Fat: 19g, Fiber: 0.5g, Net Carbs: 1g

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