Vegan Basil Pesto

This Vegan Basil Pesto recipe is simple and elegant and is my favorite condiment to keep on hand. There are many variations, which are all good on pasta, sandwiches, or pizza. Enjoy!

Peach Cobbler

Vegan basil pesto is one of the wonders of the kitchen! It’s a bona fide classic and doesn’t bend to food fads – it’s ALWAYS in style! It brings depth to pasta dishes as in my vegan pesto pasta recipe and adds character and interest to sandwiches, like my tomato, basil, pesto, and vegan mozzarella sandwich. The non-vegan classic version of basil pesto calls for basil, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pecorino cheese, and salt. My vegan basil pesto either leaves out the cheese or, as I sometimes do, includes a vegan Parmesan cheese.

Before we head to the recipe and video, let’s get familiar with basil which is at the heart of any vegan basil pesto recipe. Basil was a staple herb in the kitchen gardens of ancient Greece and Rome. It was used medicinally as well as in cooking, and the Romans, in particular, created many recipes using basil. Many of those recipes have made it to our own modern kitchen tables, in particular, basil pesto. My vegan basil pesto recipe is super simple and delicious. It starts with garden fresh basil and, even though, we leave out the dairy-based cheeses, no one I’ve served has noticed or complained!

A vegan food journal with fresh, delicious recipes.

Hello, I'm Denise.

I love to eat, garden, travel, and do yin yoga! I make plant-based recipes and photograph them from my 1920’s, remodeled apartment in Rhode Island. I've always loved fresh basil. Put some fresh basil leaves on a piece of cardboard, drizzle on a little olive oil and sea salt, and I'd be tempted to eat it! ❤️

Peach Cobbler

Reasons why you’ll love this Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe

There are so many reasons to really like the dishes. Here are some of my favorites.

    • It’s super simple. It calls for only six basic ingredients
    • It easily elevates any pasta dish, sandwich, or pizza to something satisfying and delicious
    • It’s fragrant in the kitchen. I bring in freshly picked basil from my garden and my entire kitchen is filled with the fresh aromas
Peach Cobbler

Fresh basil is on center stage here. It’s estimated there are nearly 100 varieties of basil. Like most gardeners, I grow and cook with Genovese Basil or sweet basil. This is the most common variety and what you’ll find in those plastic packages at the supermarket. The oval-shaped leaves grow to about two to three inches long and have a wonderfully strong aroma and peppery flavor.

Peach and Arugula Salad

Vegan Basil Pesto Ingredients

Basil is the key ingredient here and you’ll want to have as much fresh basil on hand as you can – don’t hold back! My vegan basil pesto recipe calls for 8 cups of fresh basil packed down!

Peach Cobbler


Here’s the full ingredient list:

    • Fresh Sweet Basil. The leaves should be fresh and not wilting. You can use basil that is a little wilted in pesto, but the fresher your basil the better.
    • Pine Nuts. Pine nuts have a soft, nutty flavor with an undercurrent of sweetness, similar to cashews. The taste is sweet and subtle. They actually are harvested from the pine cones of a pinyon pine tree. But, these little babies can get expensive so I use them sparingly
    • Garlic. Garlic adds a rich, nutty flavor.
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Brings a delicious flavor and velvety texture.
    • Sea Salt. Enhances the other ingredients for a nice pop of flavor.
      Lemon. Brings a slight zip to this vegan basil pesto and lightens the color a bit
    • Parmesan Cheese. I often add vegan parmesan cheese for a sharp, bright, and savory flavor.
Peach Cobbler

How to Make this Vegan Basil Pesto

First, get the freshest basil you can find and add it to your food processor. Pulse until basil is fully chopped.

Peach and Arugula Salad

Pulse in the salt, garlic, and pine nuts in the food processor until everything is finely chopped.

Peach and Arugula Salad

Drizzle in olive oil with the food processor still running.

Finally, add the Parmesan cheese and the lemon (if you are choosing to use them in this vegan basil pasta recipe).

Peach and Arugula Salad

Vegan Basil Pesto Variations

Once you’ve made this vegan basil pesto once you can change things up! The basic recipe can hold up to many different variations and it’s always good.

    • Use a different nut. Pine nuts are very expensive as of this writing. So you can use walnuts instead or maybe even pistachios or cashews.
    • Make it nut-free. Use pepitas or hemp seeds – either of these works well.
    • Use a different herb. Try using mint, parsley, or cilantro. My favorite will always be basil, but if you don’t have any on hand try one of these herbs.
    • Step up the flavor. Add nutritional yeast, jalapenos, or pepper flakes.
Peach and Arugula Salad

How to use the Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe

Basil pesto is so versatile! It’s natural for almost any pasta, sandwich, or pizza. Here are a couple of great ways to use your delicious vegan basil pesto.

– Vegan Pesto Pasta
– Tomato, Basil, Pesto Sandwich
– Margherita Pizza

Enjoy. Let me know how this vegan basil pesto recipe works for you in the comments below.

Vegan Basil Pesto

Denise Keniston - Basil Lover
This Vegan Basil Pesto recipe is simple and elegant and is my favorite condiment to keep on hand. There are many variations, which are all good on pasta, sandwiches, or pizza. Enjoy!
4.92 from 12 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Appetizer
Servings 4 people


  • Food Precessor


  • 8 cups Packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cups Pine nuts, toasted
  • 2-4 cloves Garlic
  • pinch Sea Salt
  • 1 cup Extra-virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Finely grated parmesan cheese (vegan) *optional


  • Pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and 1/2 tsp sea salt in a food processor or blender until the basil is finely chopped.
  • With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil and puree until emulsified. To store, transfer, cover, and refrigerate up to 5 days.
Keyword Basil Pesto, Pesto, Vegan Basil Pesto
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