Vegan Pesto

Fresh basil, creamy pine nuts, vegan parmesan, and olive oil come together for the BEST Vegan Pesto made in minutes!

Vegan Pesto: Creamy, Herby, Delicious.

Beautiful, bountiful, and bold green: there’s just something about fresh basil that brightens the entire day. Today, we’re making deliciously homemade Vegan Pesto with a few fresh ingredients for creamy, herby deliciousness you can put on pasta, bread, and everything in between!

Vegan pesto ingredients labelled

The Ingredients

Vegan pesto is one of the easiest vegan sauces to make because it requires just a few steps and no cooking!

  • Fresh basil. Use the freshest basil for the best vegan pesto. Get leaves that are bright green, plump, and not bruised.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic is best.
  • Pine nuts. You can swap pine nuts with walnuts, almonds, or your favorite nuts.
  • Vegan parmesan. I love the creamy cheesiness that vegan parmesan adds. However, you can use nutritional yeast to taste if desired.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

What is Pesto?

Pesto is a pureed sauce that’s uncooked and used as a topping on bread, sauce for pasta and more. [1]

Originating from the Genoa region of Italy, pesto is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. [2]

Fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan are added to the mortar. Then, the pestle is used to grind the ingredients together into a sauce. [3] Sometimes, garlic, salt, and other ingredients are used.

Is Pesto Vegan?

  • Is Pesto vegan? Not usually, no.
  • Why isn’t pesto vegan? Most pesto recipes are made with freshly-grated parmesan, which is an animal product.
  • Is this vegan pesto recipe actually vegan? In today’s vegan pesto recipe, we’ll be using dairy-free parmesan that’s also vegan.

How to Make Vegan Pesto

Pesto is one of those recipes that seems way more difficult than it is. Also, the more times you make vegan pesto, the easier and more comfortable you’ll be with getting the just-right texture.

First, add all peeled garlic, half of the fresh basil, pine nuts, vegan parmesan, and salt and pepper to a food processor. This is the food processor I use.

Blend until all the vegan pesto ingredients are finely chopped. 

Two photos showing How to Make Vegan Pesto – adding ingredients and blending

Second, add the rest of the fresh basil.

We add the basil in two segments to avoid over-blending it for a well-balance texture in this vegan pesto. (It’s not too chunky, or too smooth.)

Two photos showing How to Make Vegan Pesto – adding fresh basil

Third, blend past the chunky phase and stop when you get a paste-like consistency. The left photo below is too chunky, while the right photo is just right.

Two photos showing How to Make this recipe – blending to puree sauce 

Keep in mind that you might like to keep it chunky for a thicker texture. I like my vegan pesto on the smoother side.

Fourth, while running the food processor on low with the lid on, slowly add oil to the feed tube (the open chimney in the lid).

Blend until creamy and emulsified.

Two photos showing How to Make this recipe – adding olive oil

Here’s a super closeup photo of the pesto to show you the texture. I like my vegan pesto on the creamier side with a lightly chunky texture. You can adjust this according to your taste.

Closeup photo of this recipe in the food processor to show texture

Demeter’s Tips for the Best Vegan Pesto

  • Blend for the texture you like. I’ve included my personal preference on how much blending you’ll have to do to get your vegan pesto on the smoother, creamier end. You can blend less for chunkier pesto, more for smoother pesto.
  • Give yourself time to learn. It’s tempting to try to make this vegan pesto perfect the first time, but practice makes yummy! The more you make this pesto, the easier and more suited to your liking it’ll be.
  • Keep your vegan pesto fresh. Remember to cover the pesto with a layer of olive oil to protect it from oxidizing. You can also set a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the pesto before sealing the jar to minimize air exposure.
  • Use fresh basil. The fresher the basil, the longer your vegan pesto will keep. Plus, the brighter green it’ll be.
  • Avoid exposing your basil to heat. Have you ever placed fresh basil on a steaming bowl of pho? It immediately discolors because it’s oxidized! 😉 Keep your basil raw and fresh by avoiding heat exposure. (Same goes with intense cold.)
  • Increase or decrease the garlic to your liking. I love garlic, but not as much as others. Haha. You can double the garlic or even triple it if you’re a huge garlic fan. Or, leave it out if you hate garlic.
Kitchen table with vegan pesto, fresh basil, pine nuts, and kitchen tools 

How to Store Vegan Pesto


Store vegan pesto in a small, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Use a jar with the least amount of leftover space in it to keep the pesto fresh.

Remember to cover the pesto with a layer of olive oil before storing to keep it from oxidizing and turning brown!


You can also freeze this pesto recipe for 1-3 months in the freezer. 

Closeup photo to show texture of this finished recipe

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Tools You Need

This Pesto is the Besto!

See for yourself… 😉 If you make this vegan pesto recipe, be sure to leave a comment and rating, it helps everyone who visits Beaming Baker so much. ‘Til our next kitchen adventure…

Sending you all my love and maybe even a dove, xo Demeter ❤️

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feature photo of vegan pesto in a white ceramic bowl

Vegan Pesto

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Fresh basil, creamy pine nuts, vegan parmesan, and olive oil come together for the BEST Vegan Pesto made in minutes!




Tools Needed

  • Food processor
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Spatula
  • Resealable, airtight jar


  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 ½ cups fresh basil (1.5 oz, 44g), packed & divided
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup vegan Parmesan (preferred) or 2-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • 57 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil



  1. Add peeled garlic, half of the basil, pine nuts, and vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast, salt and pepper (to taste) to a food processor.
  2. Blend until finely chopped.
  3. Add the remaining basil. Blend until you get a paste-like consistency throughout. You’ll want to stop before the tiny bits of pine nuts and basil get completely obliterated, but still far enough that it’s creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bin as needed.
    • NOTE: for creamy, smoother pesto, blend a bit more; for chunkier, greener pesto, hold back a bit with blending. The pesto in my pics is just a few pulses more than super green, chunkier pesto. I like it right in between.
    • Don’t worry, the more you make this, the more you’ll get a feel for exactly how you like it.
  4. With the food processor running on low, slowly pour the olive oil into the feed chute (the chimney-shaped opening) and blend until emulsified and uniform throughout. Add more oil if using for a pasta (making it thinner), less if using as a topping for toast (making it thicker).
  5. Pour into a small, airtight container with the least amount of air left in the jar (for example, don’t use a large jar that will only fill up ¼ of the way). Then, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the pesto. Seal and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.



Storing Instructions: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Cover pesto with a layer of olive oil before sealing the container to protect from oxidization.

Freezing Instructions: You can also freeze this pesto for 1-3 months.

How to make Vegan: Keep as is.

How to make Gluten Free: Keep as is.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Category: Condiments, Dips & Dressings
  • Method: Blend, No Cook
  • Cuisine: Italian

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  1. I made this using nutritional yeast and it turned out wonderful! I’ll be using all my garden basil to make this again soon!

  2. I love pesto, I could eat it on everything! There is nothing better than homemade! Also I love the tip about adding the olive oil on top after, thank you!!