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jar of vegan pesto

Classic Vegan Pesto alla Genovese Recipe (Nut Free Option)

  • Author: Britt Berlin
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: No-bake
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan


This vegan pesto tastes just like the classic Pesto Alla Genovese recipe- but secretly dairy free and vegan. Only 5 ingredients and made the traditional method for the absolute best flavor.


Units Scale
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup raw pine nuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil, de-stemmed
  • 1/3 cup vegan parmesan*
  • 1/4 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste (optional)


  1. This method is specifically written for using a mortar and pestle. It yields the best tasting vegan pesto (much more than using a food processor). You can use a food processor, but if you have the time, using a mortar and pestle will yield the best results.
  2. Chop the garlic. Add the garlic into the bowl of your mortar, and begin to crush the garlic with the pestle. Circle the pestle around the mortar, crushing the garlic into almost a paste. This should take 1-2 minutes.
  3. Next, add in the pine nuts, and begin to crush the pine nuts into the garlic but swirling the pestle along the edges of the mortar, like you did with the garlic. Do NOT bang the pestle up and down to crush the pine nuts. Try to swirl the pestle around until all of the pine nuts have been crushed into almost a paste.
  4. Add in the basil in increments. Take about 1/3-1/2 cup of basil, and add it to the mortar. Begin to swirl the pestle around the edges of the mortar until cursed into bits. Add in another increment of basil and repeat. Repeat until you’ve used all of the basil.
  5. Then add in the vegan parmesan, and mix it into the vegan pesto. Scrape down the pestle as needed with a spoon.
  6. Pour in the olive oil, and this time, stir it in using a spoon. Add sea salt to taste here.
  7. Use immediately in your recipe, and check the blog post for how to properly store vegan pesto for later and further storage tips. Enjoy!


No pine nuts: You can swap in cashews or walnuts for the pine nuts.

Nut-free: Swap in pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds or hemp seeds.

Vegan parmesan: I recommend using either Forager Project or Violife. You can swap in an equal amount of nutritional yeast for the vegan parmesan.

Please see the blog post for proper storage tips to prevent your pesto from oxidizing!

Keywords: vegan pesto recipe, vegan pesto, vegan pesto sauce, dairy free pesto, nut free vegan pesto, vegan pesto no nuts, dairy free vegan pesto, vegan basil pesto