How to Make Vegan Pesto that Tastes Divine

If you’ve ever wondered how to make vegan pesto, it isn’t difficult, it just depends on finding a supply of fresh basil and pine kernels.

You can also make vegan pesto using cashew nuts, which makes a sweeter sauce, or you can use a mix of pine nuts and cashews, which is what I’ve done for this recipe.

Bowl of homemade vegan pesto
Vegan pesto using 60% pine nuts and 40% cashews

So, How to Make Vegan Pesto that Tastes Divine!

Put a handful of fresh basil leaves, a measure of pine nuts and a measure of raw unsalted cashew nuts into the food processor. Add 1 clove of garlic, a pinch of salt, some olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

Blend together until you get a thick paste consistency. I like to make a ‘concentrated’ form of pesto. So the pesto in the bowl in the image is thicker than the pesto you would usually put on your pasta.

By doing this, each time I want to use the pesto for a recipe, I can choose how to dilute it.

In order to make the concentrated pesto, I used olive oil and then I added the juice of half a lemon and a dash of soy sauce.

There are a few options, and I recommend tasting the sauce before adding the extra ingredients to suit your preferences. If you add lemon juice, remember the flavour will mellow & blend in with the sauce when left to infuse.

Extra Ingredients to Add to Concentrated Pesto

  1. You can add more olive oil to moisten it.
  2. A good squeeze of lemon juice will do the trick if you like the tang of lemon in your pesto – which I do!
  3. A liberal dash of soy sauce will deepen the flavour but will also tone down the greenness a little.

When you’ve added the extra liquid of your choice, go ahead and blend again until the sauce is smooth. I like to save a few whole pine nuts to add to the finished pesto, but this time I forgot and blended them all!

Diluting the Concentrated Pesto Before Using

If you leave the pesto in its concentrated form like I do, you’ll need to dilute it before adding it to pasta, for example. I prefer to do that rather than dilute the whole lot.

N.B. Adding water to the concentrated pesto changes its colour from dark green to a lighter creamy-green. I prefer the darker, concentrated pesto for eating on cheese biscuits etc.

So, to dilute or not?

  • The first option of course is not to dilute at all. That will happen if you want to add a teaspoon of concentrated pesto to a sauce you’ve already made, or to a nasi rice dish for example, because the pesto will blend in with the rest of the existing dish.
  • For adding pesto directly onto your pasta, use a few spoonfuls of the hot, cooking-water to dilute the pesto before adding it.
  • If you’re adding pesto to ready cooked potatoes and you already have a vegetable stock made, take a couple of spoonfuls and mix it into your pesto before using.

What to Serve with Vegan Pesto

I’m a great fan of pasta with tomato sauce but sometimes I fancy a simple homemade vegan pesto on pasta as well as on pasta salad.

But pesto isn’t only for pasta. It’s also great on potatoes, rice, quinoa, or on toast or in stir fries. Spread it thinly on (gluten free) cheese biscuits. If you’re not used to making your own vegan cheese you may like to read about how to give up traditional cheese and make your own.

How to Make Vegan Pesto

Recipe by Love Vegan LivingCourse: Veganism, sauceCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking timeminutes
Keeps in the fridge


Keeps in the freezer


Easy yummy vegan pesto to go on your pasta, toast, rice or vegetables.


  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves

  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

  • 2 tablespoons raw unsalted cashew nuts

  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 1-2 cloves garlic

  • Olive oil

  • Salt & pepper

  • Lemon juice

  • Dash of gluten free soy sauce


  • Blend all the ingredients together except the lemon juice and soy sauce.
  • Taste the thick pesto and decide which liquid and how much of each you want to use to dilute it with.
  • Add extra liquid and blend again until you get the consistency you want for a concentrated pesto.
  • Put into a bowl or container and keep in the fridge or freezer.
  • If using in its concentrated form, simply take a bit out of the fridge and add it to your dish or on your gluten free toast or whatever you fancy.
  • For pasta or potatoes, use the cooking water to dilute the pesto until it’s the right consistency for serving on your food.

vegan pesto Recipe Video


  • Freeze this vegan pesto in ice cubes & it can be taken out in handy single portions.

My favourite ways to eat pesto are on pasta, on potatoes and as a part of a buddha bowl. Are there any other ways you like?

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