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Whole30 Pesto {Dairy-Free Basil Sauce}

A simple recipe for Whole30 Pesto made with garden fresh basil. This homemade dairy-free pesto recipe is wonderful in so many different dishes like pasta, chicken, or vegetables. Made with or without pine nuts, you can customize this vegan basil sauce to fit your tastes and budget!

a small jar of whole30 pesto with almonds and a grey cloth

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You guys, I’m looking out for you hardcore with this homemade basil sauce. This Whole30 pesto calls for walnuts, cashews or almonds because it makes it more affordable than pine nuts.

Pine nuts apparently is Latin for “soul of your firstborn”.

You can, of course, use pine nuts, but the flavor will still be lovely without them! You have options. That’s what I’m saying.

Much like Cilantro Chimichurri, you’ll find yourself putting this paleo pesto on everything! Try it on a plate full of Make-Ahead Scrambled Eggs for dairy-free pesto eggs.

If you’re looking for a more traditional pesto recipe, check out my Five-Ingredient Homemade Pesto.

Does all pesto contain cheese?

Traditional pesto calls for parmesan cheese, which while delicious, can wreak havoc on people who can’t tolerate dairy.

But worry not this dairy-free pesto is tummy friendly for the lacto-challenged.

Is store-bought pesto vegan?

It can be harder to find vegan or dairy-free pesto in conventional grocery stores. Trader Joe’s sells a delicious Kale and Cashew pesto that is vegan, but not everyone has access to a Trader Joe’s. But if you are a TJ’s shopper, check out my Whole30 Trader Joe’s Shopping list for more dairy-free ideas!

Whole30 pesto ingredients

  • Basil
  • Nuts – I used almonds, but walnuts, cashews, or pine nuts work great (see recipe notes for nut-free options)
  • Olive oil
  • Nutritional yeast powder
  • Garlic

a cast iron skillet with almonds, and other ingredients for making pesto on a white board

I love garlic (LOVE GARLIC), but if you prefer a milder garlic taste, try using roasted garlic instead of raw. I always have some in my fridge after making a batch of Instant Pot Roasted Garlic.

This recipe makes a small(ish) batch of pesto, but if you need pesto en masse, you can adjust the number of servings on the recipe card to double or even triple it.

How to use Whole30 Pesto

Here’s how to make this:

*A detailed and printable recipe card is available at the bottom of this post.

Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and roast the nuts for ~5 minutes, stirring often. You’re just heating them up to develop flavor and to cause them to release their natural oils.

Add the nuts, garlic, basil, and nutritional yeast to a food processor. Pulse multiple times until the nuts are in small pieces. Pro tip: if you’re using harder nuts (:snicker:) like almonds, you can pulse those first before adding the other ingredients.

a food processor with basil, nuts, and garlic

With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto is your desired consistency.

two photos of a food processor showing how to make vegan pesto

For a firm but spreadable pesto, I used a scant 1/3 cup of olive oil but adjust to your preferences. We’re making pesto here, not creating oxygen. Experiment! 

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • A little pesto goes a long way, so plan to store it in smaller containers so you’re not losing any product to (food) waste. I use 4 oz canning jars (related: Canning Supplies Equipment List) or freeze in ice cube trays. Remove from the ice cube trays once frozen and store in freezer bags. I love these reusable silicone bags.
  • Add in a cup or two of spinach or kale as an easy way to sneak in more veggies to dishes.
  • If you have nut allergies, try using pumpkin or sunflower seeds instead. Definitely roast them for a few minutes to release the best flavor.

How Long does vegan pesto last?

Whole30 pesto will keep in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for six months. You can learn all about how to freeze pesto here.

Pesto will oxidize (brown) if exposed to air for too long. You can prevent this from happening by storing in air-tight containers and drizzling a little bit more olive oil on top of the pesto.

a small jar of dairy-free pesto

More Whole30 Sauce recipes like this:

Whole30 Pesto WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS

One serving of Whole30 Pesto has 2 WW Freestyle SmartPoints.

Whole30 Pesto {Dairy-Free Basil Sauce}

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
A simple recipe for Whole30 Pesto made with garden fresh basil. Made with or without pine nuts, you can customize this vegan basil sauce to fit your tastes and budget!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basil packed
  • 1/4 cup almonds or walnuts, cashews, or pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast powder
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and roast the nuts for ~5 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the nuts, garlic, basil, and nutritional yeast to a food processor.
  • Pulse multiple times until the nuts are in small pieces. Pro tip: if you're using harder nuts like almonds, you can pulse those first before adding the other ingredients.
  • With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto is your desired consistency. For a firm but spreadable pesto, I used a scant 1/3 cup but adjust to your preferences.

Notes

Add in a cup or two of spinach or kale as an easy way to sneak in more veggies to dishes.
 
Use pumpkin or sunflower seeds in place of the nuts if you have nut allergies.
 
Whole30 pesto will keep in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for six months.
Nutrition Facts
Whole30 Pesto {Dairy-Free Basil Sauce}
Amount Per Serving (1 tbsp)
Calories 54 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 1mg0%
Potassium 25mg1%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 160IU3%
Vitamin C 0.7mg1%
Calcium 12mg1%
Iron 0.2mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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