Looking for a tasty and healthy vegan pesto recipe? Look no further than this Vegan Walnut Pesto! It's perfect for anyone who loves pesto but wants a vegan option. This recipe is quick and easy to make, and it's so delicious. You're going to love it!
Making homemade pesto is great for using fresh basil from the garden. This dairy-free pesto is a variation of the classic pesto recipe, omitting Parmesan cheese and substituting walnuts for pine nuts.
I am so excited to share this Vegan Walnut Pesto recipe with you! This weekend we harvested over two quarts of basil, so I had to come up with a use for it quickly. I was running short on pine nuts, so I chose walnuts instead.
I love trying different pesto variations, and this vegan walnut pesto is my new favorite. It's versatile, and you can put it on just about anything!
Walnuts are a great source of healthy fats and plant-based omega-3. They make the perfect base for a delicious pesto and add a delicious nutty flavor. I've added optional nutritional yeast, which gives the pesto a cheesy and umami taste.
Plus, walnuts are easier on the budget than purchasing pine nuts.
This recipe was inspired by my easy vegan basil pesto and pairs well with pasta, polenta, sandwiches, potatoes, and more!
This vegan walnut pesto is perfect for any party since it is simple to make and will be a hit! This pesto is perfect on pasta, pizza, crostini, or as dip.
Here are the simple ingredients you need to make this delicious vegan pesto sauce with healthy fats:
- Fresh basil - Fortunately we can grow lots of basil in Tucson. Otherwise, I pick it up at the grocery store!
- Raw walnuts - Shelled walnut halves are a key ingredient; walnuts are a budget-friendly option compared to costly pine nuts. They are an excellent source of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Nutritional yeast - This is easily found at the grocery store; it is optional. I like to include it for a cheesy, umami flavor instead of dairy cheese.
- Sea salt to bring out the flavors.
- Garlic - Fresh garlic is essential to pesto!
- Extra virgin olive oil - Choose a fresh, good-quality oil.
- Fresh lemon juice - You need a splash of lemon juice for acidity and brightness.
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to make Vegan Walnut Pesto
It's so easy to make this vegan basil walnut pesto recipe, even if it's your first time! The hardest part is harvesting it unless you get it from the grocery store.
The last time I made pesto, we had over 10 cups of fresh basil from our patio garden!
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Toast the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet for approximately 8 minutes. After they turn slightly golden, take them out of the oven to cool.
Chop the garlic in the food processor for several pulses.
Place the basil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, sea salt, and walnuts in the bowl of the food processor.
Pulse several times in short bursts until mixed. Scrape down the sides as needed. Add olive oil in a steady stream and continue pulsing until it is combined. This takes only a few seconds.
If you prefer a thinner pesto, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice to your preference.
Serve this pesto over your favorite pasta, or use it as a spread on sandwiches or toast. Enjoy!
Hint: Toasting the walnuts brings out the nutty flavor, but if you are in a hurry, you can skip this step.
If you would like to make a few substitutions, here are a few suggestions:
- Walnuts - instead of walnuts, you can use pine nuts, pistachios, or sunflower seeds.
- Nutritional yeast - use shredded vegan parm instead, or skip it.
- Basil - if you're short on fresh basil try leafy greens such as spinach, or a combination of fresh spinach and fresh parsley.
This is the equipment I use to make homemade pesto. You can make it in a mortar and pestle instead of a food processor, but I don't have the patience for that.
You can use an immersion blender if you don't have a food processor. I recommend something other than a regular blender since it would require more work to get consistent chopping. You'd need to double the ingredients to get the blade to work.
- Food processor - this is the easiest way to make pesto, and it tastes much better than store-bought pesto.
- Measuring spoons
- Cutting board
- Chef's knife
How to serve this vegan pesto
- serve this green sauce on zucchini noodles
- on pasta; make pesto pasta
- pesto pizza
- spread on sandwiches or toast
- serve on grilled vegetables
- serve as dip
- spread on crostini and serve with sliced tomato and vegan mozzarella
- add to salad dressings
Wow your party guests with festive and amazing dips! In addition to this walnut pesto, beetroot dip with horseradish, vegan basil pesto, and guacamole are great ways to add some flavor to your next party. They're all easy to make, healthy, and delicious!
Store any leftover pesto in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freeze this vegan walnut pesto for up to four months. To freeze it, place it in ice cube trays. Add a layer of olive oil to preserve the bright green color. Once frozen solid, transfer the pesto cubes to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag.
Use the freshest and best-quality ingredients, such as fresh basil, fresh lemon, fresh garlic, and high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Each component makes such a difference in this recipe!
Do not overprocess the pesto in the food processor since this can affect the flavor and cause bitterness. If this happens, try adding more lemon juice.
No, you don't have to toast nuts for pesto. But, if you have time, it's nice for an added layer of flavor and nuttiness.
You may have overtoasted the walnuts or processed the pesto in the food processor for too long, breaking down the basil too much.
Toast walnuts in a preheated oven at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes on a baking tray or a skillet on the range on medium heat for a few minutes until golden brown.
It would be best if you didn't heat pesto because it can affect the aroma and make it taste not very pleasant and bitter.
Traditionally, pesto is not vegan since it typically contains Parmesan or Pecorino cheese. In addition, rennet, an animal product, is used to curdle the milk from which the cheese is made. Vegans and vegetarians do not consume rennet unless it is plant-based.
Blanch the basil in boiling water briefly before placing it in the food processor. Do not cook the pesto. If making pesto pasta, mix the pesto with the pasta and pasta water on low heat or mix them together in a bowl and serve immediately.
I hope you enjoy this vegan walnut pesto recipe as much as we did! If you make this recipe, please take a moment to ★★★★★ star-rate it and leave a comment below. Also, follow me on Instagram and Facebook, and share your creation with me! Tag me @resplendentkitchen and hashtag #resplendentkitchenrecipes.
Vegan Walnut Pesto
- Measuring spoons
- chef's knife
- ½ cup raw shelled walnut halves
- 1 large clove garlic peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 cups fresh basil rinsed and dried gently, lightly packed
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast optional
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt adjust to taste
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil good quality
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toast the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven for approximately 8 minutes. After they turn slightly golden, take them out of the oven to cool.
- Chop the garlic in the food processor for several pulses.
- Place the basil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, sea salt, and walnuts in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse several times until mixed. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- Add olive oil in a steady stream and continue pulsing until it is combined. Serve immediately. See notes for storage instructions.
- For a thinner pesto, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency.
- Place pesto in an airtight glass container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- To freeze, place pesto in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, place the cubes in a Ziploc bag and store them in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Resplendent Kitchen offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site as a courtesy. Although resplendentkitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information from online calculators, these figures are estimates.
I always forget how easy pesto is to make and now I'm adding your vegan pesto to next week's meal plan for an easy weeknight meal. It's also a great way for me to sneak some healthy ingredients into my kids!
Thank you, Aimee! We're so glad you like it and it's a great way for you to sneak some healthy ingredients into your kids' meals. 🙂
Loved this vegan pesto. Pesto is a household staple and this recipe is perfect. Can’t wait to make again.
Thank you for trying my vegan pesto recipe, MacKenzie! I'm so happy to hear you loved it!
This pesto is so delicious! I love that you can make it with walnuts instead of pinenuts!
Thank you for the kind words about my Vegan Walnut Pesto, Chenée! I'm glad to hear that you enjoy it!
Made this pesto to go with veggie pasta last night and we both really liked it! We did use nutritional yeast in it, and would highly recommend you do too! The best vegan pesto we've tried so far, and so much cheaper than using pinenuts!
Thanks for trying my vegan pesto recipe, Ieva! I'm glad you both enjoyed it. The nutritional yeast is a great addition for boosting the flavor and adding some "cheesy" goodness. 🙂
I actually prefer walnuts to pine nuts and they tend to be cheaper too so this is a great idea for pesto. So simple and delicious too.
Hi Amanda, thank you for leaving a review and sharing your thoughts! We love pine nuts, but walnuts make a great pesto too.
This pesto was so easy to make! I love how cheesy the nutritional yeast makes it.
Thank you for trying this pesto recipe, Maren! I am glad you enjoyed it; I love how the nutritional yeast gives it a cheesy flavor too!
I had some lingering basil in the garden I needed to use and decided to try this recipe. It was delicious! I never thought to make pesto with walnuts. Will make again soon!
Thanks for trying my recipe, Karen! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
This was such a delicious pesto! I love the addition of walnuts because pine nuts are CRAZY expensive where I live! Thank you!!
Thank you for trying this Walnut Pesto Justine and for your kind words. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it!
I usually make my pesto with grated parmesan but loved this vegan recipe. The addition of the nutritional yeast was spot on and I did not miss the parm. Great recipe.
Thank you for trying my vegan pesto recipe, Oscar! I'm so happy to hear that you loved it and that the nutritional yeast added the perfect touch!
Amy Liu Dong
It looks so easy and delicious.
I am going to try this at home. Thank you!
Thank you, Amy!
Oh my...I love this pesto so much! So fresh, tastes delicious, and pairs well with everything!
Hi Linda, thank you so much for your fantastic review of my pesto! I'm so happy to hear that you love it!