This 5 minute Dairy Free Pesto Recipe is Whole30, Low Carb, and Vegan, and it will quickly become your favorite healthy condiment! This pesto recipe comes together in just a few minutes with wholesome, healthy ingredients like fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, and cashews and without pine nuts. The secret ingredient? Nutritional yeast!
Dairy Free + Whole30 Basil Pesto
Need a boost of flavor in your routine? This is the recipe you’ve been looking for! This Basil Pesto is packed full of delicious ingredients AND it’s gluten free, dairy free, vegan, Paleo, Keto, Low Carb, and of course, Whole30.
Not only does it come together in like 2 seconds flat (okay maybe more like 5 minutes), but it’s budget friendly AND freezer friendly. This is the recipe I follow at the end of summer when my garden is basically exploding with basil. I can’t let it go to waste, so I make a ton of pesto and freeze it!
Dairy Free Pesto Ingredients
Who would’ve thought such simple ingredients would make the absolute BEST CONDIMENT of all time? Yup, this Whole30, Dairy Free Pesto is so good, you’ll make time and time again. What you need:
- Fresh Basil: You can use any kind of fresh basil you can find, but my favorite varieties are Italian and Sweet Basil. They’re fairly common at most grocery stores. I’ve also used purple basil that I grew in my garden. The flavor was wonderful, but the color ended up a little brown, which was fine by me!
- Garlic (Raw or Blanched): This is totally up to your taste preferences. If you use raw garlic, the pesto will have more of a bite to it, and the garlic flavor will be more pronounced. If you’re like me and you love strong garlic, use raw. Using blanched garlic will give your pesto more of a mild garlic flavor, which is generally a better bet if you like garlic but don’t want the flavor to be too strong, if you get heartburn, or if you’re serving this to kids. To blanche garlic, submerge the peeled garlic cloves in boiling water for about one minute. Remove and set in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
- Olive Oil: Extra Virgin Olive Oil works best in Pesto.
- Cashews: I make my pesto recipe without the traditional pine nuts, because #budget. Choose raw and unsalted cashews as a delicious and more budget-friendly option. *Alternately, if you’re looking for a nut free pesto recipe, swap raw, unsalted sunflower seeds.
- Nutritional Yeast: Here’s how you make fabulous, flavorful pesto without cheese. Nutritional yeast has a wonderful cheesey flavor that’s so important here to making delicious pesto that’s Whole30, Low Carb, and Vegan. Pick it up at your local grocer or on Amazon.
- Salt and pepper to taste: I end up using about 1/2 tsp of each, but I always recommend starting with less and adding more at the end. It’s one thousand percent easier to add more than it is to take it away.
How to Make Pesto
Surprisingly, Basil pesto is one of the easiest recipes to make. You just need to have a food processor or blender (or a mortar and pestle, if you really want to put some work in).
First, you need to pulse all the ingredients besides oil, so the cashews and basil are broken down. This allows the flavor of the basil to be more fully released and incorporated into the sauce.
Then, just slowly add in the oil as you blend the mixture until it’s the desired consistency. You don’t want a basil smoothie, so don’t overblend. Just keep an eye on it and stop blending when the mixture is smooth but not creamy. Leave a little texture, trust me.
What can I use Pesto for?
Pesto is great with veggies, eggs, wraps, pizzas, and sandwiches, but it’s also delicious served with proteins like shrimp and chicken.
Here are a few recipe suggestions for using your dairy free pesto:
- Pesto Chicken & Spaghetti Squash Bake (Low Carb)
- Baked Pesto Chicken & Tomatoes (Low Carb, Whole30)
- Spiralized Zucchini & Pesto Egg Nests (Low Carb)
- Sheetpan Salmon & Brussels Sprouts Salad (Whole30, Low Carb)
How long does it keep?
Cover and refrigerate the pesto for up to 5 days. Alternately, you can add it to ice cube trays and freeze into cubes. Once they’re frozen pop them out and add them to an air tight bag or container and freeze.
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Dairy Free Pesto (Whole30, Low Carb, Vegan)
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cashews raw and unsalted
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Add the garlic, nutritional yeast, basil, salt and pepper and cashews to a food process or blender. Pulse a few times to break everything down a bit.
- Turn the food processor or blender to a slow blend or low speed. Open the top and drizzle in the rest of the olive oil slowly. Blend until smooth, but stop before it gets creamy (I like when there's still a little texture in the pesto from the cashews).
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.