My Favorite Vegan Pesto Recipe


I consider pesto a fridge/freezer staple, and I make it so often that I often forget it’s not traditionally a vegan recipe. Classic pesto calls for parmesan cheese (or occasionally pecorino) for saltiness, flavor, and umami. Fortunately, nutritional yeast can supply each and every one of those qualities, and it renders vegan pesto every bit as scrumptious as the traditional stuff.

You may already prepare vegan pesto without nutritional yeast, and that’s fine. Many of my own pesto recipes don’t include it, especially the less conventional ones (like my hemp pesto). If you’re craving a truly authentic experience, though, it’s worth using a bit of nooch. I think it makes pesto a lot richer.


To get this simple recipe for vegan pesto, head on over to Food52 for today’s New Veganism column. And enjoy! I’ll be back tomorrow with my next installment of Vida Vegan Con 2013: The Retrospective.


All photos by James Ransom for Food52.

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Categories: Dips, Dressings
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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    • For sure. Sometimes the Vita with grind stuff up until it’s pasty, so you may need to add a small extra drizzle of oil. Enjoy, neighbor!

      • Must tell you — a pesto lover told me this was the greatest pesto he has ever eaten. Worked perfectly in the Vitamix, too. Many, many thanks!

  1. Seeing the comment on pistachio’s.. Have you ever had Tamari cashews?
    They taste almost the same.. without needing to peel!
    So maybe add some tamari? and make this with (soaked) cashews 😉

  2. I’m vegetarian, but have a friend who eats vegan. Would love to make my pesto vegan friendly.. Just leave out the parmesan, is that enough?
    Is the nutritional yeast to add nutrients, or also flavor?

    For i also don’t see any recipe.. I soak almonds & sunflowers seeds to make mine, extra nutriënts 🙂

  3. Gorgeous photo! I love a bit of nooch in my pesto, I really notice it when I decide to leave it out. I have been on a pesto kick the past few weeks and am excited to try this one! I love it on steamed veggies.

  4. Mmm cant wait to try and mix that with some good ol Spaghetti!!


    Jen x

  5. My new favorite nut for pesto is pistachios! SO.GOOD.

    No idea why I never thought to use them before seeing the recipe, but so grateful for the idea!

  6. This is a great vegan recipe! My husband and I love pesto. I would love to try it! Thanks for sharing. 😀

    • All kinds, but usually Ezekiel sprouted grain bread. It’s very wholesome, rich in protein, and high quality 🙂

  7. I love anything with nooch. Best vegan ingredient ever. (Well, at least one of the best.) I can’t wait to try this!

  8. This sounds so delicious. I will most definitely give it a try. I agree about having pesto handy at all times. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Have a good day 🙂

  9. This is perfect timing! I just got some basil plants last weekend, and I’ve been meaning to make some pesto. Your recipe looks super simple and delicious; thanks, Gena!

    Also, I must say that nutritional yeast really enhances any savory food. I enjoy making my own vegetable broth and adding a few tablespoons of nooch to it does wonders for the stock’s umami factor!

  10. umami indeed! i really enjoyed the first recap of the conference, it’s really fun to see on the go vegan eats and what interesting dishes they have at the conference itself!

  11. I’m so going to make this for my 8 year old daughter. She just discovered that she loves pesto and I was thinking yesterday that I need to find a killer vegan version of it to make for her. Off to the grocery store!

  12. Can’t wait to try this…

    p.s. where did you get the glass container and what brand is it? I MUST GET SOME!! thanks

  13. Oh man. Pesto is most certainly the best-o in my book, as lame as that sounds. The two things I “miss” the most since going vegan are Amy’s Organic pesto pizza and pesto tortellini. But I’ve found that it was really just the pesto herbiness I loved and not the cheese, for example, so I’ve taken to adding it to everything!

  14. yummm… I’m such a fan! I made a pesto the other day with cilantro/parsley/sunflower seed/rice bran oil/oregano/garlic/nutritional yeast and tossed it with brown rice pasta. Sometimes I forget how easy it is to make and how delicious it is. The flavor possibilities are endless 🙂

  15. I make a vegan pesto with arugula, spinach, walnuts, garlic, olive oil and nutritional yeast. Sometimes I add some jalapeno. Its fabulous.

    • That sounds awesome. We make an arugula pesto by itself, but I think this combo sounds delicious! I’ve got bags of farmer’s market arugula and spinach in the fridge, just waiting to be made into pesto!

    • Thanks for the jalapeno addition. I always add cayenne or some heat to most of my recipes including potato salad just to give it that kick. Your addition of jalapeno is causing the emminent preparing of this. can not wait. Thanks, again 🙂