Healthy Vegan Walnut Pesto Recipe for a Guilt-Free Delight

Have you ever tried vegan pesto made with walnuts instead of pine nuts? If not, then get ready to be amazed by this delicious and easy Vegan Walnut Pesto recipe.

This pesto is bursting with fresh basil flavor, and the nutty taste of walnuts make it even more indulgent. You may be wondering why use walnuts instead of pine nuts for this pesto? Well, it’s because walnuts are a much cheaper and readily available option than pine nuts. Besides being budget-friendly, walnuts are incredibly nutritious as they are packed with healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

This Vegan Walnut Pesto recipe is perfect for anyone who wants to follow a plant-based diet but does not want to compromise on flavor. It makes a great topping for pasta, toast or crackers. You could also use it as a dip for raw vegetables or spread it on sandwiches. You can make a big batch of this pesto and keep it in the fridge for a quick grab-and-go meal option.

So, let’s get started with the recipe!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Vegan Walnut Pesto
Vegan Walnut Pesto

When it comes to pesto, many people think of the classic basil and pine nut combo, but this vegan walnut pesto recipe offers a deliciously unique twist. Not only is it entirely plant-based, but it’s also equally flavorful and easy to make.

First off, let’s talk about the star ingredient: walnuts. These nutrient-dense nuts are packed with healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Toasting them before blending the pesto adds a perfectly nutty flavor that pairs wonderfully with the bright freshness from the basil and lemon juice.

Another great thing about this vegan walnut pesto recipe is its versatility – it can be used in so many different ways! Toss it with some pasta for a quick and easy dinner or spread it over a sandwich for an extra kick of flavor. It would also be fantastic as a dip, mixed into soups, or even drizzled on top of roasted vegetables.

In addition to being incredibly tasty, this pesto is also incredibly nutritious. The combination of walnuts and fresh herbs packs in plenty of vitamins and minerals, while the olive oil and nutritional yeast add a boost of healthy fats and B vitamins.

Whether you’re a lifelong vegan or just looking to switch things up in the kitchen, this easy vegan walnut pesto recipe is sure to impress your taste buds. So go ahead and give it a try – we guarantee you won’t regret it!

Ingredient List

 Fresh basil leaves straight from the garden!
Fresh basil leaves straight from the garden!

Below are the ingredients you need to make this Vegan Walnut Pesto recipe:

-2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (washed and stems removed)

-1 cup raw walnuts

-2 small cloves garlic, peeled

-½ teaspoon minced garlic

-½ teaspoon coarse salt

-Juice of 1 lemon

-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Note: If you have a nut allergy, substitute pine nuts with sunflower seeds or use walnuts instead. If you want to make a nut-free pesto, replace the nuts with sunflower seeds or omit them altogether. Nutritional yeast can also be added to your pesto for extra flavor. In addition, you can use avocado instead of olive oil for a creamier pesto. All of the ingredients for this recipe can be found at any local farmers market or grocery store.

The Recipe How-To

 Toasted walnuts add a crunchy texture and nutty flavor!
Toasted walnuts add a crunchy texture and nutty flavor!

Step 1: Toast the Walnuts

First things first, let’s toast our walnuts! Preheat your oven to 350°F or 175°C. Once it reaches the desired temperature, arrange the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast them for 5-7 minutes until you start smelling their nutty aroma.

Step 2: Blend Ingredients

Feel free to use a food processor or blender for this recipe, whichever is available to you. Add garlic cloves, toasted walnuts, and packed fresh basil leaves to your blender/food processor. Blend on low speed and gradually increase it to high until your ingredients are evenly chopped.

Step 3: Add Olive Oil

While blending, slowly add in the olive oil, about a quarter cup of it. Blend continuously while adding the oil until the mixture is smooth and well blended. If necessary, add more olive oil to achieve a smoother consistency.

Step 4: Season with Salt

Cut the lemon juice in half and squeeze one half into your olive oil and herb mixture. Add some coarse salt to taste and mix everything together once again

Congratulations! You’ve just completed your very own homemade vegan walnut pesto sauce. Serve with pasta, gnocchi, or as a dip for veggies, spread on crackers or even mix it into soups as a thickener!

Note: Consider straining the pesto with cheesecloth if it’s too thick after refrigeration.

Substitutions and Variations

 Creamy avocado adds a silky texture to the pesto!
Creamy avocado adds a silky texture to the pesto!

When it comes to making vegan walnut pesto, there are plenty of ways to put a unique spin on this classic recipe. With just a few ingredient swaps, you can create something truly special and perfect for any occasion.

If you or someone in your household has a nut allergy, try substituting pine nuts for sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds have a similar texture and flavor but are nut-free, making them an ideal replacement.

For those who prefer a milder taste, cashews can be used instead of pine nuts for a more subtle flavor.

If you’re looking for a fun twist on traditional basil pesto, consider adding in other fresh herbs like parsley, spinach or kale to create a unique and delicious pesto. Simply swap out some of the basil leaves for other greens from your farmers market or garden for an irresistible homemade pesto.

For those who want to experiment with different oils, try using avocado oil instead of olive oil to give your pesto an extra richness and creaminess.

Another variation is to add nutritional yeast to your recipe for a cheesy flavor that pairs perfectly with pasta salad or roasted veggies.

Whether you’re looking to substitute ingredients due to allergies or personal preferences, these adaptations can easily turn your basic vegan walnut pesto into a one-of-a-kind creation that will become a staple in your kitchen. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations until you find the perfect recipe that suits your taste buds!

Serving and Pairing

 This vegan pesto is so versatile - use it as a dip, spread or pasta sauce!
This vegan pesto is so versatile – use it as a dip, spread or pasta sauce!

Freshly made vegan walnut pesto is a versatile addition to any dish. It is perfect as a regular pasta sauce, mixed into soups or stews, or as a spread on sandwiches. You can always add some extra virgin olive oil to the pesto if you prefer a thinner consistency.

Consider pairing vegan walnut pesto with grilled vegetables or roasted potatoes for a heartier meal. Use it on top of pizza, bruschetta, or crostinis for added flavor and texture. You can also use it as a dip with raw vegetables such as carrots, celery, and cucumber.

For a refreshing twist, add some fresh lemon juice and nutritional yeast that will give your pesto an umami richness. You can store the pesto in the fridge for up to one week in an airtight container.

This easy vegan walnut pesto recipe can elevate any dish! Experiment with different types of nuts and seeds like cashews or sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts, especially if you have a nut allergy. Use it as a base and adapt it to your taste. Don’t be afraid to get creative – try making basil-walnut pesto or kale-spinach-garlic pesto for some variety. Take advantage of farmers market season and use some locally grown fresh basil leaves for an unforgettable flavor experience!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 You won't even miss the cheese because this pesto is bursting with flavor!
You won’t even miss the cheese because this pesto is bursting with flavor!

Ah, the age-old question: can i make this ahead of time? The answer is a resounding “yes!” This vegan walnut pesto recipe can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container.

If you’re planning on using this recipe for meal prep or if you’re making a large batch for a party, you can even freeze it for later use. To freeze the pesto, simply portion it out into ice cube trays or small containers, and place it in the freezer. Once frozen, you can transfer the pesto cubes or containers to a resealable bag and label them with the date.

When you’re ready to use your frozen pesto, simply let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Alternatively, you can defrost it in the microwave or by placing it in a warm water bath.

One thing to keep in mind when reheating your walnut pesto is that excessive heat can cause the oil to separate from the other ingredients. This isn’t a big deal – just give your pesto a good stir before using it.

In terms of serving suggestions, this vegan walnut pesto is incredibly versatile. You can enjoy it as a dip with fresh veggies or crackers, toss it with hot pasta for a quick and easy weeknight dinner, or spoon it over roasted vegetables for an extra burst of flavor. The possibilities are truly endless!

Overall, regardless of how you choose to use your vegan walnut pesto, there’s no denying that this recipe is a real crowd pleaser. So go ahead and make some extra – trust me, you won’t regret it!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Homemade pesto is so easy and quick to make, you'll never go back to store-bought!
Homemade pesto is so easy and quick to make, you’ll never go back to store-bought!

When making vegan walnut pesto recipe, we want to ensure the best possible outcome. Here are some tips that can help us achieve perfect results every time.

Firstly, it is important to use fresh and high-quality ingredients in this recipe. This includes using fresh basil leaves and raw walnuts. Fresh basil will give the pesto its vibrant green color and distinct flavor, while raw walnuts will provide a smooth texture and nutty taste.

Choosing the right equipment is also crucial for great results. It is recommended to use a high-powered blender or food processor to create a smooth and silky consistency. If you don’t have a blender or food processor, you can still make the pesto by using a mortar and pestle for optimum texture.

When blending or processing the ingredients, it is essential not to over-process them. Over-processing can cause the mixture to become too smooth and may result in an unwanted paste-like texture. It’s best to stop blending once the mixture is finely chopped, but still has some texture.

Furthermore, using freshly squeezed lemon juice adds an extra layer of flavor and acidity to the vegan walnut pesto recipe. A half lemon should be enough for this recipe, but if you love the tangy taste of lemon, you can add more according to your preference.

Lastly, always adjust seasonings according to your preference. Taste the pesto before serving and add more salt or lemon juice as needed. You can also experiment with other seasonings such as nutritional yeast or sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts if you have a nut allergy.

In summary, by following these simple tips and tricks, not only will our vegan walnut pesto turn out perfectly creamy and delicious that cats are sure to enjoy licking up any loose crumbs from it (not that we endorse feeding cats human foods!), but we’ll also create a healthy meal that we can enjoy even as leftovers days after!


As you start preparing this easy vegan walnut pesto, you may come across some questions on ingredients, substitutions or storing instructions. Therefore, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you get the most out of your basil walnut pesto. Whether you’re a seasoned vegan chef or a beginner in the kitchen, these tips and tricks will come in handy as you navigate through this recipe. Let’s dive into the FAQ section to find out more!

Can you use walnuts in pesto instead of pine nuts?

If you’re a lover of pesto but happen to run out of pine nuts, don’t fret! There are plenty of substitutes that you can use such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or sunflower seeds. You can even get creative and make your pesto with carrot greens, which would otherwise go to waste. Let’s explore the possibilities of substituting pine nuts and discovering new ingredients for a delicious pesto sauce.

What can I use instead of pine nuts in pesto nut allergy?

If you’re looking for a nut-free alternative to pine nuts in your pesto recipe, consider using sunflower seeds. Although pine nuts are technically not nuts, they can still pose a risk for those with nut allergies. Cashew nuts are typically used as a substitute for pine nuts in pesto, but sunflower seeds can also be a delicious and safe option.

Can you substitute walnuts for cashews in pesto?

Pesto recipes don’t strictly require pine nuts and can incorporate various types of nuts or seeds. Examples include walnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, and pistachios.

What is walnut pesto made of?

This recipe calls for 3 cups of fresh basil leaves, 3 large cloves of garlic, lightly-toasted California walnuts, 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Optionally, you may need additional extra-virgin olive oil for storage purposes.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this vegan walnut pesto recipe is a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional pesto. With its rich and nutty flavor, it will take your pasta dishes, bruschetta, or even roasted vegetables to the next level. Whether you are a vegan or not, this recipe is easy to make, full of wholesome ingredients such as basil leaves and raw walnuts, and can be customized to fit your taste preferences or dietary restrictions. Moreover, it is versatile and can be used as a dip, spread, marinade or dressing in various dishes.

So why not give this recipe a try? Beyond just being delicious, making this homemade pesto will give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction knowing that you have created something fresh and wholesome from scratch. Plus, it is also an opportunity to experiment with different flavors and textures by adding your own twist to it. Impress your friends or family with your culinary skills and treat them to a tasty meal that’s healthy too.

To sum up, this vegan walnut pesto recipe has all the elements of a great dish- simple ingredients, easy to prepare, healthy and most importantly- mouthwatering. So go ahead and indulge yourself in one of the easiest ways to create a flavorful dish with just a few ingredients. Remember that cooking is all about creativity, so don’t be afraid to experiment with new variations of this recipe or other homemade pestos such as parsley pesto, spinach pesto or kale pesto. Bon appétit!

Vegan Walnut Pesto

Vegan Walnut Pesto Recipe

A modification of a vegan pesto recipe I had been using for a while...I prefer to use walnuts in mine and wanted to adjust for my salt preference, so I decided to post. This makes a LOT of pesto...I like to make extra servings to freeze for later.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course Condiment
Cuisine Vegan
Calories 364.1 kcal


  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 8 cups basil leaves, packed
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice


  • Combine all ingredients and blend well until smooth.
  • Add additional salt, lemon juice or olive oil if needed.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 141gCalories: 364.1kcalCarbohydrates: 7.4gProtein: 4.6gFat: 37.1gSaturated Fat: 4.7gSodium: 876.9mgFiber: 4.5gSugar: 0.8g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Easy, Sauces, Vegan
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