It’s no secret that I have a thing for pesto. Yet I didn’t have a recipe for my go-to version on the blog…until now.
The remedy is here! Presenting my 5-Minute Easy Vegan Pesto perfect for sauces, soups, salads, pasta, pizza, and more!
Origin of Pesto
Pesto is a sauce that is believed to have originated in the Liguria region of northwestern Italy. It’s thought that it may have evolved from a 13th century garlic-based sauce called aggiadda or from the tradition of using aromatic herbs in the Middle Ages.
The first written recipe for pesto was from Giovanni Battista Ratto in his 19th century work The Genoese cuisine. This recipe was a mix of garlic, basil, and cheese (source).
Our plant-based version skips the cheese, but is similarly packed with basil and full of flavor.
How to Make Vegan Pesto
This recipe requires just 5 minutes, 1 bowl, and 7 ingredients to make.
The base is fresh basil, pine nuts, and garlic with a splash of lemon juice for acidity and brightness.
For that cheesy color and flavor, I rely on nutritional yeast, which is a man-made yeast that can be high in B12 (depending on the brand).
Now, we have a paste, but to make it a sauce, I rely on a mix of extra virgin olive oil and water. If you’re trying to avoid oil, feel free to sub the EVOO for vegetable broth or water!
I hope you all love this pesto! It’s:
& SO easy to make
I love adding pesto to things like white pasta sauce, breadsticks, salad dressings, sauces, and more! This recipe yields about 1 cup, and I’m always surprised how quickly I use it up throughout the week. It also freezes well in ice cube trays, so you can thaw and use a small amount whenever a recipe calls for pesto.
For my favorite pesto recipes, check out our Pesto Avocado Toast, Penne Pasta Salad, Smashed Potatoes with Garlic Pesto, Pea Pesto Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta, and Spaghetti Squash Pasta with Basil Pesto.
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Easy Vegan Pesto (5 minutes!)
The easiest vegan pesto in 5 minutes! Cheesy and flavorful despite being dairy-free, plus an option for lower oil/fat. It’s the perfect plant-based spread for Italian dishes and more!Print SAVE SAVED
Prep Time 5 minutes Total Time 5 minutes Servings 16 (1-Tbsp servings)Course SauceCuisine Gluten-Free, Italian-Inspired, VeganFreezer Friendly 1 monthDoes it keep? 1 Weekfrom votes
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US Customary – Metric2 cups packed fresh basil (large stems removed)3 Tbsp pine nuts or walnuts (if nut-free, try sunflower seeds!)3 large cloves garlic (peeled)2 Tbsp lemon juice3-4 Tbsp nutritional yeast1/4 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil*3-6 Tbsp water (plus more as needed)
To a food processor or small blender, add the basil, nuts, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and sea salt and blend/mix on high until a loose paste forms.Add olive oil a little at a time (streaming in while the machine is on if possible) and scrape down sides as needed. Then add 1 Tbsp (15 ml) water at a time until the desired consistency is reached – a thick but pourable sauce. (If avoiding oil altogether, sub the oil with vegetable broth or just use all water.)Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor, salt for overall flavor, nuts for nuttiness, garlic for bite / zing, or lemon juice for acidity.Perfect for adding to sauces, dressings, breads, and more! My favorite recently has been adding it straight to zucchini or carrot noodles (see photo) for a beautiful, healthy side dish.Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 1 week. After that, pour into ice cube molds, freeze, and store up to 1 month or more.
*I rely on a mix of extra virgin olive oil and water to make this pesto a “sauce.” If you’re trying to avoid oil, feel free to sub the EVOO for vegetable broth or water!
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with lesser amount of nutritional yeast.
*Recipe adapted from my Smashed Potatoes with Garlic Pesto.
*Recipe as originally written makes ~1 cup pesto.
Nutrition (1 of 16 servings)
Serving: 1 one-Tbsp servings Calories: 39 Carbohydrates: 1.2 g Protein: 0.8 g Fat: 3.8 g Saturated Fat: 0.4 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.61 g Monounsaturated Fat: 1.6 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 32 mg Potassium: 62 mg Fiber: 0.7 g Sugar: 0.2 g Vitamin A: 317 IU Vitamin C: 1.95 mg Calcium: 13.24 mg Iron: 0.33 mg