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Oil Free Vegan Pesto

5 from 4 votes

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This Oil Free Vegan Pesto is quick to make and so delicious! You’ll love the taste of fresh basil and garlic in this easy sauce. Enjoy it on pasta, in salads or bowls, on sandwiches and pizzas, and on roasted vegetables.

Bowl of oil free vegan pesto with lemons, garlic, and fresh basil in background.

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Summer is winding down, but my garden is at its height. My basil plant is so big! And what better way to use is than to make fresh pesto.

Pesto is one of my favorite sauces to put on pasta. Not only is it easy to make, but it is full of leafy green nutrition. It’s a good source of Vitamin A, vitamin K, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium and dietary fiber. Basil also has powerful antioxidants, and it is known to be anti-inflammatory.

Most pesto sauces are full of oil. But this one is oil free as well as dairy free!

If you’re craving pasta and basil is not in season, be sure to check out my Vegan Spinach Pesto recipe!

Ingredients needed for this oil free vegan pesto recipe

Ingredients for oil free vegan pesto.
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh spinach
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Raw cashews – pine nuts are used in traditional pesto, but I usually have cashews on hand, so that is what I used. For a nut free pesto, you can leave them out, or substitute with sunflower seeds.
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Citric acid – to help the pesto keep its beautiful fresh green color

How to make vegan pesto

This recipe couldn’t be easier. Simply place all the ingredients in a food processor, and process on high speed until your desired consistency is achieved. I love my KitchenAid Food Processor, but any food processor should work.

Unblended pesto ingredients in food processor.
Blended pesto in food processor.

Taste the pesto and adjust flavor to your preference by adding extra garlic, lemon juice, salt, or pepper. You can add a bit more water a tablespoon at a time, if necessary.

This recipe makes enough pesto for about 12 ounces of pasta. You can use any type of pasta you want – enriched, whole wheat pasta, gluten free pasta, or even zucchini noodles.

Serving suggestions:

This pesto is so tasty and versatile. Here are some of my favorite ways to serve it:

  • Vegan pesto pasta (how about my fresh vegan pasta?) sprinkled with some vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.
  • As a sandwich spread.
  • Thinned down and used as a bowl sauce.
  • Make a pesto pizza by using this oil free vegan pesto as a pizza sauce on my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough. Top with my Vegan Mozzarella and your favorite pizza toppings like roasted tomatoes, other roasted veggies, olives, and more!
  • A topping for roasted vegetables.
  • Pesto Pasta Salad with fresh cherry tomatoes.
Bowl of oil free vegan pesto with lemons, garlic, and fresh basil next to it.

Give this oil free pesto a try, and let me know in the comments how you decided to use it.

Here are some more vegan sauces:

Frequently asked questions:

How long does vegan pesto last?

Fresh pesto will last in the refrigerator in an air tight container for a week.

Can you freeze pesto?

Yes! you can freeze this pesto in an air tight container for up to 3 months. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays and transfer them to a Ziploc bag when they are frozen. Then add a couple tablespoons of this delicious pesto to your sandwiches, salad dressings, or soups.

Why is traditional pesto not vegan?

Traditional pesto is made with cheese – usually Parmesan in the U.S. and the U.K., and Pecorino Romano in Italy. The cheese adds a creaminess to the pesto. This delicious vegan pesto gets it creaminess from the addition of raw cashews.

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a rating and feedback below. It only takes a few seconds, but helps other visitors to my site. Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment!

And come join my Oil Free Vegan Recipes and Support Facebook group, where you can share your favorite oil free vegan recipes, and give and receive support on your plant based journey.

Bowl of oil free vegan pesto with lemons, garlic, and fresh basil next to it.

Easy Vegan Pesto

Teresa Sklenicka
This Easy Vegan Pesto is quick to make and so delicious! You'll love the taste of fresh basil and garlic in this oil-free sauce.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Condiment
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 178.6 kcal


  • 2 packed cups fresh basil
  • 1 packed cups spinach
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • teaspoon citric acid


  • Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until desired consistency is achieved.
  • Add more water a tablespoon at a time, if necessary.
  • Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, or garlic to taste.


Calories: 178.6kcalCarbohydrates: 14.7gProtein: 15gFat: 8.1gSodium: 164.5mgFiber: 6.3gSugar: 1.1gVitamin A: 1338.47IUVitamin C: 5.91mgCalcium: 56.3mgIron: 2.68mg
Keyword Gluten Free, Oil Free, Sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Nutrition calculations are approximate.

By on August 29th, 2019

About Teresa Sklenicka

I love creating tasty, oil-free, vegan recipes that everyone will love (even non-vegans)! Here you'll find vegan versions of your favorite comfort foods, as well as some new tastes! Join me on a path to improving your health, helping the planet, and saving animals.

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