Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe

Pesto is one of those fantastic spreads that can transform a meal from “whatever” to “wow.” Unfortunately for vegans, traditional pesto recipes include Parmesan or Romano cheeses, making them off-limits.

Never fear, however. My vegan basil pesto, like my cilantro pesto, is easy to make and vegan-friendly. You’ll love this fresh take on the Italian classic.

Key Ingredients

What is pesto made of? As we noted, traditional pesto recipes aren’t vegan-friendly because they call for cheese.

However, this recipe is safe for anyone to eat, including vegans and vegetarians. Here are the main players in this vegan basil pesto recipe:

  • Basil: The benefits of basil may surprise you. Research reveals this herb has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-boosting abilities. It’s also been shown to help with managing or preventing pain, fever and diabetes.
  • Spinach: Loaded with vitamins K, A and C, along with folate, manganese, magnesium and iron, spinach is a true superfood that benefits the heart, immune system, bones, vision and so much more.
  • Pine nuts: A good source of healthy fat, pine nut nutrition can help lower bad cholesterol, maintain healthy weight, reduce blood pressure, support bone and eye health, and stabilize mood.
Vegan basil pesto step 1 - Dr. Axe

How to Make Vegan Basil Pesto

Wondering how to make pesto from scratch? It’s not that difficult, as this homemade pesto can be whipped up in a snap.

Begin by tossing all your ingredients into a food processor or high-powered blender. While we have most of the usual pesto suspects, like basil leaves and pine nuts, we also use some non-traditional ones in this vegan pesto recipe.

Sun-dried tomatoes add extra flavor and creaminess to this vegan basil pesto recipe without dairy. Using spinach also adds extra benefits, like vitamins, nutrients and more of that delightful green color.

Vegan basil pesto step 2 - Dr. Axe

Add ½ cup of water to the ingredients, and pulse, then puree, the pesto. You might need to add more water to reach the right consistency, a smooth paste.

Add the water in small increments. You want to make sure this pesto doesn’t become watery.

Vegan basil pesto recipe - Dr. Axe

Once the pesto is at your desired consistency, you’re done! It’s amazing how much taste this vegan basil pesto has — it’s better than anything you can buy in stores.

The ways to use it are endless, too. Spread it on bread, mix it with pasta, use it in place of marinara sauce in pizzas, serve it as a dip: You can’t go wrong!


Vegan basil pesto - Dr. Axe

Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe

  • Author:
    Dr. Josh Axe

  • Prep Time:
    5 min

  • Cook Time:
    0 min

  • Total Time:
    5 minutes

  • Yield:

  • Diet:


Traditional pesto recipes include cheeses, making them off-limits for vegans. My vegan basil pesto is easy to make and vegan-friendly.


  • 1½ cups fresh basil
  • 1½ cups spinach
  • 1½ tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water to blend


  1. Add all ingredients except water to a food processor or high-powered blender. Starting with ½ cup water, pulse and then puree pesto, adding water as needed to make a smooth paste.
  2. Use immediately or store in a jar in the refrigerator for 2–3 days.
  • Category: Sauces & Dressings
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 32g
  • Calories: 137
  • Sugar: 0.7g
  • Sodium: 9mg
  • Fat: 14.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.6g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 12.6g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 2.4g
  • Fiber: 0.7g
  • Protein: 1.6g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: vegan pesto, pesto recipe, basil pesto, how to make pesto, homemade pesto, vegan basil pesto recipe, what is pesto,

The post Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe appeared first on Dr. Axe.