This easy vegan pesto is ready in 10 minutes and made with simple ingredients! It’s a creamy, dairy-free spread that’s perfect for pasta, sandwiches, pizza, salads, and more.

wooden spoon scooping vegan pesto out of a glass jar surrounded by lemons, basil, and pine nuts

I don’t know about you, but pesto never gets old for me. I could eat it on just about anything (especially this vegan pesto cavatappi recipe and vegan broccoli pesto pasta!).

The fact that pesto is SO simple to make just might be my favorite thing about it. Yup, that’s right – you can have creamy + garlicky vegan pesto ready in just 10 minutes. So, grab your food processor and let’s get started!

a square white bowl filled with creamy vegan pesto alongside a white bowl filled with pine nuts and a white bowl containing basil leaves

What ingredients are in vegan pesto?

This easy vegan pesto recipe is made with 10 ingredients. We’ll start with traditional pesto ingredients – like fresh basil, pine nuts, and garlic cloves. However, to keep the recipe dairy-free, we will skip out on parmesan cheese. Instead, a combination of nutritional yeast and lemon juice provides the cheesy, tangy flavor. Plus, nutritional yeast contains Vitamin B12 (an important nutrient for vegans!).

Ingredients in homemade vegan pesto:

  • Basil
  • Pine nuts
  • Garlic
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
a distressed white wooden cutting board topped with small bowls of basil leaves, garlic cloves, pine nuts, lemon juice, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and parsley

How to make easy vegan pesto

For the full recipe, scroll down to view the recipe card below.

As mentioned earlier, this really is the easiest pesto in the world! Essentially, all you have to do is add the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.

  1. Peel the garlic cloves. De-stem the basil and parsley.
  2. Add basil, pine nuts, garlic, nutritional yeast, water, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, salt, and black pepper to a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. If needed, add more or less water to achieve desired consistency.
  3. Transfer the vegan pesto sauce to an airtight jar or container. Store in the refrigerator.

What does pesto taste like?

Pesto is a creamy spread that’s packed with rich flavors of basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil. It’s quite aromatic and a little goes a long way. Traditionally, pesto also contains parmesan cheese. This provides a slightly cheesy flavor.

However, since this recipe is vegan and dairy-free, no cheese is used. Despite the lack of cheese, this easy vegan pesto contains all the flavor! You’d never guess it’s free of dairy. Nutritional yeast and lemon juice act as a delicious replacement while contributing a tangy, cheesy kick.

vegan pesto sauce inside a glass jar next to small white bowls filled with basil, pine nuts, and lemons

What can you eat pesto with?

Pesto can be used as a spread, dip, or dressing! Here are 15 ways to enjoy this easy vegan pesto sauce:

  1. Pasta
  2. Sandwiches
  3. Wraps
  4. Pizza (in place of marinara sauce)
  5. Salads
  6. Buddha bowls
  7. Toast (especially avocado toast – yum!)
  8. Pita bread (pairs well with hummus, too!)
  9. Veggie burgers
  10. Squash (zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash)
  11. Vegan grilled cheese
  12. Vegan quesadillas
  13. Roasted veggies
  14. Garlic bread
  15. Baked tofu or plant-based chicken
a wooden spoon scooping vegan pesto out of a glass jar

Tips for making this vegan pesto recipe

  • Not a fan of pine nuts? Although they provide the most authentic pesto flavor, walnuts and cashews act as a great substitution.
  • Feel free to adjust the intensity of garlic and basil to your personal liking. I use 4 cloves of garlic, but some individuals may prefer more or less. Always taste test your pesto and adjust the flavor (if needed) before storing away.
  • Use more or less water depending on the desired consistency. If you’d like to use this easy vegan pesto as a pasta sauce, the recipe is perfect as is. For a thicker pesto dip, omit the water (or reduce to 1-2 tbsp) for a chunkier consistency.
  • This pesto should last for up to 1 week when stored in the refrigerator.
green pesto sauce inside a glass jar with a wooden spoon sticking out of it

More vegan dips and dressing recipes:

If you try this Easy Vegan Pesto, please let me know your thoughts by leaving a rating and comment below! Ready for more? Subscribe to my newsletter or follow along on Instagram and YouTube!

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vegan pesto sauce inside a glass jar surrounded by basil leaves, lemon, and pine nuts

Easy Vegan Pesto

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  • Author: purelykaylie
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Category: Dip, Dressing, & Spreads
  • Method: Blend
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan


This 10-minute vegan pesto is SO easy to make and super tasty. Enjoy it on pasta, pizza, sandwiches, salads, and more! 


Units Scale
  • 2 packed cups fresh basil, de-stemmed
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp parsley, de-stemmed (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or high-speed blender. Pulse/process ingredients until smooth and creamy, adding additional water if needed.
  2. Transfer to an airtight jar or container. Store in the refrigerator. Serve with pasta, sandwiches, pizza, salads, and more! 


  • Keep pesto stored in an airtight jar/container in the refrigerator. It should keep for up to 1 week. 


  • Serving Size: 1/4 cup
  • Calories: 255
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Fat: 22g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 9g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 8.5g

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