Dairy Free Pesto is easy to make and so delicious. Rather than adding parmesan, we toast the cashews (cheaper than pine nuts!) which gives the pesto the best flavor. This is our go-to Whole30 and vegan pesto recipe.

A hand holding a spoon taking a scoop of dairy free pesto out of a white bowl.

This is the dairy-free pesto recipe that you'll often find in our fridge. While my family does love cheese, we don't eat a lot of it around here. With this vegan and Whole30 pesto recipe, I swear that you won't miss the cheese. 

Why we love this dairy free pesto

  • TOASTED cashews. The toasted part is what is important, hence the yelling. It adds a depth of flavor that is missing in most dairy-free pesto recipes. Toasted pine nuts are great too, but I can rarely bring myself to splurge on them. Cashews mimic them well. 
  • NO nutritional yeast. Don't get me wrong, I do like nutritional yeast. But not in pesto. I find that it gives the pesto a weird ‘fake' flavor and doesn't at all taste like the parmesan cheese it's trying to imitate. 
  • It's crazy easy to make. Pull out your food processor and gather the ingredients and it will be 99% made. 
  • In the unlikely event that you have leftovers, it keeps well for most of the week. Serve it with eggs for breakfast, in a sandwich for lunch, or with pasta, salmon, or chicken for dinner. 

All the ingredients for this vegan pesto recipe in a food processor.

How to make this dairy-free pesto recipe

The easiest way to make this pesto recipe is in a food processor or blender. If you don't have access to either, you can use a large cutting board and chop everything by hand. Start with the dry ingredients then slowly add the oil and lemon juice as you continue chopping. This does take a bit of time, but if you have the patience, it can make a really nice pesto.

  1. Put the ingredients into your blender.
  2. Now turn it on. 

That's it! Making homemade pesto is almost as easy as opening a jar of store-bought pesto. But it is SO MUCH better!

A spoonful of dairy free pesto scooped out of the food processor.

What to serve with pesto

We all know that pesto and pasta are great partners, but it is so much more versatile than that. 

  • Spooned on fried eggs or whisked into scrambled eggs.
  • Spread on toast or in a sandwich. 
  • Tossed with roasted veggies. 
  • Mixed into rice.
  • On top of potatoes, chicken, baked tofu, salmon, you name it. 
  • Whisked into some mayonnaise or yogurt for a creamy dip. 

How long does dairy-free pesto last?

Pesto will last 4-5 days in a covered container in your fridge. 

Can you freeze pesto?

Yes, you can freeze pesto. If you have a major basil harvest one year or you've made more than you can eat, you can put the rest in the freezer. But I would only suggest freezing pesto in a pinch. While frozen pesto works well in cooked pesto recipes, you don't want it to be the star of the show as the quality won't be as good as when it is fresh. 

Making pesto mac and cheese, pesto casserole, or pesto stuffed chicken are all great recipes to use frozen pesto. 

A white bowl of Whole30 pesto with a small wooden spoon in it and some cashews on the side.

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A white bowl of Whole30 pesto with a small wooden spoon in it and some cashews on the side.

Dairy Free Pesto

  • Author: Kristen Stevens
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 0 mins
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Dairy Free Pesto is easy to make and so delicious. Rather than adding parmesan, we toast the cashews (cheaper than pine nuts!) which gives the pesto the best flavor. This is our go-to Whole30 and vegan pesto recipe.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups basil, packed
  • ⅓ cup cashews, toasted (see notes)
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt (see notes)

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients into your food processor and blend on low until it's a chunky texture.
  2. For a creamier pesto, blend on high.

Notes

If you need to toast your cashews at home, put them on a baking sheet and toast them for 6-7 minutes at 350 degrees. They will be golden and smell fragrant when ready. Let them cool before using them in this recipe.

Depending on the type of salt you use, you may want to add an extra pinch more. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and add an extra 1/8 teaspoon if needed.

For a super creamy pesto, use a high-powered blender and a splash or water so it runs smoothly.

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A hand holding a spoon taking a scoop of dairy free pesto with the recipe title on top of the picture.