This is not only the best vegan Pesto I’ve ever made, it’s the best pesto recipe I’ve ever made, period. I think you’ll love it just as much, and the fact that it’s dairy-free is just a bonus.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What is vegan pesto made of?
- Fresh basil
- Lemon juice
- Walnuts (or pine nuts)
- White miso (for a Parmesan cheese flavor)
It’s so simple, yet so unbelievably flavorful. You may have noticed that I use white miso anytime I want to add an authentic Parmesan cheese flavor, like in my Vegan Lasagna and Stuffed Shells.
The miso is optional, because I know it’s not something that everyone keeps on hand, but trust me when I say that it will make this Vegan Pesto taste like the real deal.
It definitely adds a “wow” factor to this recipe, so please try it as-written if you can.
How to Make It
How do you make vegan pesto? All you have to do is add a few ingredients to a blender or food processor, and blend until you have a bright green, flavorful sauce.
I prefer to use a blender for this recipe, so the ingredients are practically pureed into a smooth sauce, but if you prefer a chunkier texture, use a food processor.
It’s delicious either way!
Tips for Making Perfect Pesto
- Use fresh lemon juice. The store-bought bottles won’t add quite the same flavor; fresh lemon juice is definitely the way to go!
- Skip the basil stems. I use a whole 3 oz. box of fresh basil (the bigger box at the grocery store), and remove the stems, which can be bitter and tough. Only use the fresh basil leaves in this recipe!
- Season heavily. The white miso adds a salty flavor to this recipe, but I also like to season it with a 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt, to make sure the flavor really comes through. Don’t under-season your pesto, especially since the flavor will mellow in the fridge (if you plan on storing it) and will be diluted when you add it to a main dish, like pasta.
Want a more mild pesto? You can replace up to half of the basil with fresh baby spinach, or another herb, like parsley or cilantro.
Need to swap an ingredient? Here are some ideas to help.
- Walnuts. You can use any other nut you have on hand, like cashews, or try something like hemp hearts for a nut-free pesto.
- Miso. You can leave out the miso for a less-cheesy flavor, but you may want to compensate by adding extra salt to this recipe. You can also add a tablespoon or more of nutritional yeast, for another alternative.
- Olive oil. Want an oil-free recipe? Try my Zucchini Pesto, or simply replace the oil with water, as needed, to help this pesto blend.
- Basil. You can use other fresh herbs, if you want a flavor other than classic basil pesto. Try fresh parsley or cilantro, if you’d like! Or even another green, like my Kale Pesto.
More Vegan Sauces To Try
- Romesco Sauce (my other favorite!)
- Peanut Sauce
- Blender Chimichurri Sauce
- Vegan Nacho Cheese (insanely good)
- Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce
- 1/2 cup walnuts (51 grams)
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems; 44 grams)
- 3 garlic cloves , minced (13 grams)
- 2 tablespoons white miso (37 grams)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (23 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (3 grams)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (20 grams)
- 1/4 cup water (2 ounces)
- In a blender or food processor, combine the walnuts, basil, garic, miso, lemon juice, salt, oil, and water. (You can start with only a 1/4 teaspoon of salt, if you are watching your sodium intake.) Blend until very smooth.
- Taste the mixture, and adjust any seasoning, as needed. You can add more lemon for a tart flavor, or you can dilute with more water for a runnier texture. Serve right away over your favorite pasta, or on pizza, or you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. It will thicken slightly when chilled.
If you try this Vegan Pesto recipe, please leave a comment below letting me know what you think!
Questions and Reviews
Wow, you weren’t kidding! This is the best pesto recipe! I had some miso in the fridge already after making your Vegan Stuffed shells, and now I think it’s always going to be something I keep in the fridge. This is so good!
So I’ve been looking for a vegan pesto that doesn’t include nutritional yeast, and OMG you made it happen! It’s incredible!! Better than regular pesto with cheese. Your recipes are always top notch and this does not disappoint. Thank you thank you thank you!
This really is better than regular pesto. Holy cow.
This was very delicious! Roasted veg on the grill and served this with it. Was enjoyed by everyone. Thank you for a easy wonderful recipe!
Yum your Recipes are amazing!! Does this pesto freeze well??
So good! I left out the miso and it was still amazing. I will definitely be making this again.
Thank you for sharing this. Close to the “real thing!” I added a cup or so of spinach and some nutritional yeast. This is awesome on everything!… pasta, turkey, chicken, even soup.
Absolutely delicious pesto. Used 1 Tbp nutritional yeast instead of the miso.
Yes this is the best pesto! The white miso is a surprising ingredient. Thank you! Delicious and will be a go to basil pesto recipe. I have a mint pistachio pesto recipe that I make and will try adding miso.