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Everyday Vegan Pesto

This vegan pesto recipe isn’t just as good as traditional pesto … it’s better! It only takes 5 minutes to make and uses nutritional yeast instead of parmesan cheese. The perfect sauce for any pasta dish!

Looking for the perfect vegan pesto recipe? THIS IS IT! Tastes just like real pesto but has zero cheese!

Pesto is one of my favorite sauces. The sharp flavor of the fresh basil, the richness of the olive oil, and the saltiness make it a perfect sauce. It works well with any type of pasta, as a dip, or as a garnish on top of many recipes. There’s only one issue with pesto: it has a lot of cheese in it. So I came up with this super easy vegan pesto recipe.

Why I Love This Vegan Pesto Recipe

  • It uses an easy parmesan substitute. Instead of parmesan cheese, this vegan pesto uses nutritional yeast. It provides the same rich, nutty flavor as parmesan, and a little salt replaces the sodium of the cheese.
  • The flavors are delicious. My second secret ingredient, hemp seeds, add extra richness and complexity to the sauce, while lemon juice makes it a little more acidic than a traditional pesto.
  • It's super quick. It only takes 5 minutes to make, but you’ll find yourself keeping a jar of it in the fridge at all times.

What You’ll Need

Here are the ingredients that you need to make this easy vegan pesto. Check out the recipe card at the bottom of the post for a printable list with the exact quantities for each ingredient. 

  • Fresh basil – Basil leaves are a classic choice for pesto, but you can make your vegan pesto with more fresh herbs, like parsley.
  • Nutritional yeast – You'll find this in most major grocery stores and online.
  • Lemon juice – Make sure to use fresh lemon juice.
  • Pine nuts – If you don’t have pine nuts, you can use walnuts. 
  • Hemp seeds – My secret ingredient for the best vegan pesto! You can skip these if you don't have them, but I highly recommend giving hemp seeds a try.
  • Garlic – For the best flavor, use fresh garlic.
  • Salt and pepper – Make sure to use freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – Or another mild-flavored oil, like avocado oil. Make sure it's good quality.

How to Make Vegan Pesto

Here are the quick and easy steps for this 5-minute vegan pesto recipe. Scroll to the recipe card for printable instructions.

  • Process. Place all of the pesto ingredients, except for the olive oil, in a food processor. Process the mixture until everything is combined.
  • Scrape. Lift the lid off the food processor, and scrape the sides down with a spatula.
  • Add the oil. Close the lid, turn on the food processor, and drizzle in the olive oil. Start with a small amount, and add more until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Tada! Fresh homemade pesto that's 100% vegan.

Tips for Success

  • Use a little water. If you would rather use less oil, substitute some of it with water. The pesto will be less rich, and a little less velvety, but still very good.
  • Use a blender. If you don’t have a food processor, feel free to use a blender. However, you probably need a high-powered blender to get the best results.
  • Adjust the seasonings. After making the pesto, give it a taste test, and adjust the seasoning. Depending on how much oil you used, and the strength of the basil and lemon, you may need to add a little more salt, pepper, yeast, or lemon juice. Play with the flavors until they’re just right for you. 
Overhead view of vegan pesto in a glass jar next to a wooden spoon.

What Do You Eat With Pesto?

It goes without saying that this vegan pesto goes perfectly with a big bowl of pasta. Whether it’s on angel hair, rigatoni, ravioli, or spaghetti squash, this pesto works so well with any type of vegan pasta you have on hand. I also love a dollop of vegan pesto on top of Italian dishes such as vegan spinach lasagna, polenta, and roasted winter vegetables. And of course, you can use this recipe as the pesto in any of these dishes:

How to Store Leftovers

  • Refrigerate. Store the leftover vegan pesto in an airtight container or a jar in the fridge. It will last for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze. Keep the pesto airtight in the freezer for up to 6 months. I like to press a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the pesto before putting the lid on the container, to keep any freezer burn from occurring.  

More Sauces to Make

Everyday Vegan Pesto

4.6 from 15 votes
This vegan pesto recipe only takes 5 minutes to make. It uses nutritional yeast instead of parmesan cheese, and it's every bit as tasty as a traditional pesto!
author: Alyssa
yield: 2 cups (approx. 10 servings)
Looking for the perfect vegan pesto recipe? THIS IS IT! Tastes just like real pesto but has zero cheese!
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes


  • 4 packed cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cups nutritional yeast depending on taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts if you don't have/can't find pine nuts, although I just saw you can get raw ones on Amazon for a great price!
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves I like to use 3 but only had 2 when I filmed the video
  • Generous teaspoon of salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil depending on consistency*


  • Add everything aside from the oil into a food processor. Process until combined.
  • Remove the lid and scrape down the sides with a spatula.
  • Place the lid back on and with the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Start with 1/4 cup and add more if you need it. Scrape down the sides a few times and process again until smooth.
  • Transfer to a glass container and store in the fridge for up 5 day or the freezer for up to 6 months.



  • If you don't want to use that much oil, you can replace some oil with water (although it will change the texture and flavor considerably).
  • I haven't tried this recipe in a blender, but I think if you do want to try it you'll need a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or BlendTec Twister Jar.


Calories: 161kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 0.4mg | Potassium: 67mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 25IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg
cuisine: Italian
course: Condiment

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