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Pesto Without Pine Nuts

This easy homemade pesto without pine nuts recipe comes together with only 5 simple ingredients. Homemade pesto is delicious and affordable.
a white bowl with pine nut free pesto, tomatoes, and bread sticks.

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This easy homemade pesto without pine nuts recipe comes together with only 6 simple ingredients. Homemade pesto is delicious and affordable.

a white bowl with pine nut free pesto, tomatoes, and bread sticks.

Pesto can make you feel like a magician. In just a few minutes, you take fresh basil and turn it into an amazing and versatile sauce. Pesto change-o!

Homemade pesto is more of an art than a science My recipe is below, but I encourage you to adjust everything to your preferences. Make this pesto recipe without pine nuts YOUR own.

What Can I Use Instead of Pine Nuts in Pesto?

Pine nuts are absolutely delicious and also absolutely expensive! To make a pesto recipe without pine nuts you can substitute your favorite tree nuts – walnuts, almonds, and cashews are our favorites.

Need a pesto without nuts? Using the humble sunflower seed (hulled) or pumpkin seeds works amazingly well.

Ingredients and Variations

basil, Parmesan cheese, walnuts, garlic, and olive oil on a grey board.
  • Fresh basil is a no-brainer. You’re going to need a whopping 2 cups!
  • Parmesan – shredded or grated
  • Olive oil – bring the good stuff
  • Nuts – walnuts, cashews, almonds, or sunflower/pumpkin seeds
  • Garlic – save time by using frozen garlic

The garlic in this pesto is pretty apparent, so if you need something more subtle, either dial back the garlic or use roasted garlic. Roasted garlic is more mellow and has a sweet flavor to it.

I always have some Instant Pot Roasted Garlic or Air Fryer Roasted Garlic hanging around my freezer.

Need a dairy-free pesto for your lacto-challenged needs? Check out this Vegan Pesto recipe for a Parmesan cheese-free version.

If you have leftover basil after making your pesto, check out these tutorials on Freezing Basil and How to Dry Basil.

How to Use Pesto

How to Meal Prep Pesto

Pesto is a sauce that is best served in small quantities.  There is a reason that grocery stores sell it in teeny tiny jars – a little goes a long way.  And yikes, those jars are pricey! 

I like to put my pesto in our Souper Cubes until frozen solid, and then transfer them to a reusable freezer bag. For larger quantities, I freeze homemade pesto in 4 oz mason jars. You can get more details in our post on How to Freeze Pesto.

6 photos showing step by step how to make pesto in a food processor.

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • You’ll have a better overall consistency if you pulse the nuts/seeds in a food processor before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  • Pesto will oxidize (brown) very quickly after it’s made. Either make it right before you intend to serve it or immediately transfer it to the fridge in an air-tight container.
  • If you’re putting it out as a dip, an extra layer of olive oil at the top will keep it looking fresh.
  • Add in a cup or two of spinach or kale as an easy way to sneak in more veggies to dishes.
  • Make sure you toast the nuts/seeds for a few minutes before chopping them. It really elevates the flavor they bring to the basil sauce.
a hand dipping a cheesy breadstick into a white bowl of homemade pesto.
a white bowl with pine nut free pesto, tomatoes, and bread sticks.
Print Recipe
5 from 3 ratings

Pesto Without Pine Nuts

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time15 mins
This easy homemade pesto without pine nuts recipe comes together with only 5 simple ingredients. Homemade pesto is delicious and affordable.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup nuts walnuts {almonds, cashews, sunflower or pumpkin seeds work too}
  • 1/4 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  • In a heavy skillet on medium heat, toast nuts with olive oil until they are warm and fragrant (~5 minutes).
    1/4 cup nuts walnuts, 1/4 tsp olive oil
  • In a food processor, pulse the nuts/seeds into small pieces.
  • Add the basil, cheese, garlic, and salt and process until the mixture is finely chopped. Scrape down the sides as needed.
    2 cups fresh basil, 1/3 cup shredded parmesan, 3 cloves garlic, 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • With the machine running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture has come together.
    1/3 cup olive oil

Notes

  1. You’ll have a better overall consistency if you pulse the nuts/seeds in a food processor before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Pesto will oxidize (brown) very quickly after it’s made. Either make it right before you intend to serve it or immediately transfer it to the fridge in an air-tight container.
Nutrition Facts
Pesto Without Pine Nuts
Amount Per Serving (14 cup)
Calories 248 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 15g
Cholesterol 6mg2%
Sodium 208mg9%
Potassium 85mg2%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 0.3g0%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 700IU14%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 131mg13%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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13 comments on “Pesto Without Pine Nuts”

  1. I think I could easily live on pesto!5 stars

  2. I use walnuts in my pesto. I have a butt load5 stars

  3. I have pretty much the same recipe but with pine nuts, which usually require consideration of organ donation when purchasing…. Definitely going to have a go with almonds.
    Just curious, how long do you store the pesto? I normally make and cook at the same time.
    Thanks heaps!5 stars

    • Pine nuts are delicious, but oh yeah super expensive. Walnuts and cashews are delicious as well almonds. I have even done sunflower seeds in a pinch.

      I freeze it for months at a time. It will oxidize (turn brown) eventually, but it tastes delicious even if it is browned.

  4. I ran an experiment last year and I made two batches of pesto.
    They were identical -and carefully measured!!- except for one ingredient.
    One used pine nuts and the other was made with walnuts.
    Nobody could tell the difference between the two!
    And walnuts are so much cheaper than pine nuts!
    A friend gave me a butt-load of basil yesterday, so you post had amazing timing! And I will be using walnuts. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. The Garden Betty blog has a recipe for Basil Puree that can be frozen. The post includes great suggestions for how to use it, I\\\’ll definitely be making it this year as well as your pesto recipe. Here\\\’s the link in case anybody is interested.
    https://www.gardenbetty.com/simple-preserves-making-and-freezing-basil-puree/
    I love your blog!
    Jennifer

  6. I *highly* recommend trying this with roasted walnuts. The flavor is spectacular and (at least where I am) walnuts are so much cheaper than almonds.

  7. I love making my own basil and freezing it. We use pine nuts, but I may switch to almonds. Our store doesn’t carry bulk pine nuts anymore. THanks for joining the Frugal Tuesday Tip. http://juliecache.com/2011/08/08/frugal-tuesday-tip-29/.html

  8. Your pictures are so much prettier than mine. ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t get over how expensive pesto is in the store! My husband laughs because I will look at something and say “Do you know I can make twice that amount for $x.xx!” You will have to post your recipes for using it. I love new recipes!

  9. You’re so sweet. A food blog I sometimes read has a series on how to take better food photos, and it’s been SO helpful for me! Here is the site: http://www.fannetasticfood.com/

    I like pesto on pizza with chicken and artichoke hearts. Also, on crusty bread with grilled chicken and melted mozzarella!