Vegan Basil Pesto (Keto & Whole30)
This Vegan Basil Pesto is loaded with bright herby flavor and made in a few minutes. You won’t miss the cheese in this paleo, vegan, keto + Whole30-friendly pesto. It will make any meal more flavorful, whether it’s tossed with pasta, enjoyed with your favorite protein, or used as a dip or spread.
I’ve been finding so much comfort in spring growth, and with all the spring produce that’s been making it’s way into my apartment. The juiciest of strawberries, vibrant rhubarb, thin asparagus stalks, BIG artichokes, leafy spinach, and tons of fragrant basil have been flooding the farmer’s markets, ready to supplement what’s happening in my little garden.
A bunch of that spinach and basil came home with me, and was begging to be turned into one of my all-time favorite sauces/spreads/condiments: PESTO. So fresh, vibrant, and absolutely delicious – I can eat pesto with just about anything.
While on the Whole30 I did in January, this spinach basil pesto was a staple of my diet. It’s great on zucchini noodles, as a dip for carrots and dolloped in big spoonfuls onto my veggie hashes.
Since my Whole30, it’s constantly been in my fridge. One thing I learned doing Whole30 was that dairy was not my best friend. Vegan pestos for me from here on out! And this one fulfills all my pesto needs perfectly. :)
Does this basil pesto fit into your diet?
Most likely! It’s all these things:
Last week, I inquired on my Instagram Stories about whether anyone would be into seeing more savory recipes here on Bakerita. I got waaaay more enthusiastic yeses than I was expecting to, and after chatting with a few people about what they’d like to see, Whole30-friendly recipes were one of the big winners. Every time I post a picture of my vegan basil pesto when I’m making or using it, I get tons of questions about the recipe. Naturally, I had to share it ASAP!
Here’s how I make my best Vegan Basil Pesto:
I’m all about keeping things simple and fresh in this pesto recipe! Let’s chat about what’s in this recipe:
- Nuts: this recipe calls for a combo of walnuts and pine nuts, but you’re absolutely welcome to use your favorite nuts! I love using pecans in place of both the walnuts and pine nuts when I don’t have them on hand.
- Basil: always necessary for pesto! Fresh is best.
- Spinach: optional, and can be replaced with more basil, other herbs like mint or parsley, or other greens like arugula or baby kale! This addition helps amp up the nutritional value.
- Garlic: because of course every pesto needs garlic! When I’m using raw, I add two to three small cloves so it’s not overly garlicky. If I happen to have it on hand though, I love adding 5 or 6 cloves of roasted garlic. It’s less harsh than raw garlic and adds such an incredible roasted, garlicky flavor to the pesto.
- Lemon: this adds lovely brightness to the recipe. I love using both the juice and the zest of the lemon.
- Nutritional Yeast: this serves as our Parmesan replacement, adding a cheesy, umami flavor to the pesto. You can leave it out if you don’t have it on hand or don’t like it.
- Salt & Pepper: no recipe is complete without these two!
- Olive oil: for luscious creaminess! A lot of basil pesto recipes will use double, sometimes triple the amount of oil that I call for here. I prefer a less oily pesto, so I add just enough for the pesto to blend beautifully. If for some reason I want it thinner and drippier, like for salad dressing or pasta sauce, I’ll thin it out with more oil, lemon juice, or pasta water.
My favorite ways to use this vegan pesto:
- Spread a layer on the bottom of this Grain-Free Heirloom Tomato Mozzarella Galette.
- Add extra oil and some vinegar to make it a salad dressing.
- Make these Cheesy Turkey Pesto Rolls.
- This Cauliflower Gnocchi with Pesto is my favorite easy meal!
- Drizzle on top of your favorite soup recipes!
More pesto recipes:Print
Vegan Spinach Basil Pesto (Paleo, Vegan & Whole30)
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Sauces
- Method: Blender
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegan
This Vegan Basil Pesto is loaded with bright herby flavor and made in just a few minutes. You won’t miss the cheese in this paleo, vegan, keto + Whole30-friendly pesto. It will make any meal more flavorful, whether it’s tossed with pasta, enjoyed with your favorite protein, or used as a spread.
- ¼ cup walnuts or your favorite nut
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups fresh spinach (or more basil)
- 2 small garlic cloves, see Notes
- Zest & juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor or high-powered blender (I used my Vitamix). Pulse on low speed until the ingredients are starting to break down. Slowly stream in the oil with the machine on low until the sauce begins to come together.
- Make sure to scrape down the sides if you’re using a food processor. If you’re using a blender, keep the motor on low and use a tamper/scrape down the sides to make sure your pesto doesn’t become too smooth and pureed. You want the ingredients broken up into little bits, but not completely smooth. Taste, and add more salt, pepper, and lemon to your tastes. If you want a thinner pesto, add more olive oil or add water to get to your desired consistency.
- Pour into an airtight jar or container to store. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for a few months.
If you happen to have roasted garlic on hand, try substituting 5 or 6 cloves roasted garlic in place of the raw!
Keywords: vegan pesto, pesto recipe, dairy free pesto
SUCH a beautiful vibrant pesto, Rachel!! I would slather this gorgeousness over everything in sight! So perfect for all the upcoming summer salads!
Thanks Sarah!! It’s going to be slathered on all sorts of summer salads and bowls :)
YUM I love pesto, it’s a staple in my fridge and freezer because I’m pretty sure I put it on every dish ;) Have you ever tried making it without pine nuts and using a different nut (maybe all walnuts, or a blend)? Pine nuts are super pricey so I’d be nice to use an alternative when possible!
Hi Natalie, I’m a pesto addict too!! Yes I’ve made this with all walnuts before and with a mix of pecans and walnuts, and both are awesome! You definitely don’t need the pine nuts for a delicious pesto. Hope you give it a go!
This looks so good – and amazingly delicious!
Izzy | Pinch of delight
I love homemade pesto and I can’t wait to try your recipe – I so agree, lemon is a must! :)
I love a good pesto – it’s so versatile! And this sounds delicious! I love the photos too! SO pretty!
How much does this make in the end?
I haven’t measured but I think around 2 cups!!
I love pesto. Always have to make my own because of nut allergies. What substitute can I use for the nuts?
You could use a seed, like sunflower seeds or hemp seeds, or just leave it out entirely!
This is now my go-to pesto recipe after trying many. The only change I make is to use a full cup of pine nuts (because we love the flavor) and probably 1/4 cup of oil just to cut down on calories. Absolutely delicious!
So thrilled you’re loving it, Sarah!! Thanks for the feedback – adding so many pine nuts sounds delicious!
Obsessed! This is so simple, delicious lick the bowl kind of delicious! My new favorite staple in the kitchen!
So thrilled you love it, Megan!! It’s a staple around here too :)
Utterly delicious. My son the (traditional) pesto lover was skeptical of the nutritional yeast and spinach, but it all melds together just beautifully. Love the lemon! A+
So glad you and your son enjoyed it, Robyn! Thanks for the feedback :D
Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I wanted to know if the measurements for the basil and spinach are for a tightly packed volume or loosely packed.
Hi Kerry, pretty tightly packed! This recipe is flexible though – I’ve added more or less based on what I have on hand and it’s always delicious.
Thank you Rachel! I LOVE your Basil-Spinach pesto!
So so happy to hear that!!