Let’s kick things off by sharing a secret. What is the best kitchen hack that has completely changed my cooking? Build your dishes around a great sauce – and when I say “good”, this vegan pesto recipe definitely fits the bill. Whip up a homemade one pizza, pasta, or sandwich, add a hearty sauce to the mix and this simple flourish can take your dish from mediocre to absolutely delicious. When it comes to plant-based cooking, this vegan pesto recipe is as good as it gets.
Creamy, healthy and full of flavor, it’s a must-add to your home cooking arsenal. This pesto is a sauce, it’s a dip, it’s a spread, it’s whatever you want it to be. What’s more, the recipe is versatile and will go well with most of your favorite dishes, so you’re probably wondering why I haven’t already shared this vegan pesto recipe with you? Don’t worry, I’m getting to the good part.
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My sister and roommate, Megan, has adapted this recipe to perfection. As a certified nutritional health coach, she is an expert in infusing everything with healthy ingredients. Since we both avoid gluten and dairy, we are constantly making swaps for some of our favorite traditional dishes.
We’ve baked, sauteed, blended and fried gluten-free, dairy-free versions of just about everything under the sun (don’t sleep on these brownies!). But all good things must come to an end and my sister is moving out at the end of the month. While I’m sad to see our collaborations in the kitchen end, we’ll always have our recipes to bond us, and this vegan pesto recipe might be the best going-away gift I’ve ever received.
What ingredients do I need for this vegan pesto recipe?
Traditional pesto originates from northern Italy and usually contains a mixture of pine nuts, garlic, basil, parmesan cheese and olive oil. This vegan recipe includes all of the above minus the cheese and adds a handful of extra ingredients to take the flavor and nutritional value to the next level. To make this recipe vegan, Megan swapped in nutritional yeast and hemp seeds instead of parmesan. Nutritional yeast is rich in protein and vitamin B12 and gives this pesto its characteristic cheesy taste. The hemp seeds give a protein boost and give a nice texture to the mix.
Tips for making this vegan pesto recipe
This recipe comes together in under 10 minutes and is so easy to make. Throw it all in a blender or food processor and boom – you have your sauce. Plus, it’s likely that you already have many of the ingredients on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Spinach. The trickiest and tastiest way to work in a full batch of vegetables.
- Fresh basil. Pesto’s hero ingredient. I use a big handful.
- Olive oil. Helps everything to mix and gives the sauce its characteristic velvety texture.
- Hemp seeds. They are full of protein and fiber.
- Pine nuts. Option to roast them in advance for an extra flavor boost.
- Nutritional yeast. I am a fan of Bragg.
- Lemon. A small dose of vitamin C is never a bad idea.
- Apple cider vinegar. Helps regulate blood sugar and calm digestion.
- Red pepper flakes. Start small and slowly add more until you have reached the desired spice level.
- Salt. Always!
How to serve vegan pesto
I make a batch of this vegan pesto almost every week and it keeps wonderfully in the fridge for up to 7 days. You can also freeze it for later use on salads, pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, eggs and much more. Here are some of my favorite dishes to pair with this vegan pesto recipe:
This pesto knows no bounds. Feel free to get creative and let us know how you like it!