If you think pesto is too challenging or time consuming to make, you've been living a lie! This easy vegan basil pesto comes together in just 5 minutes, and we know you'll be putting it on more than pasta.
It always helps to know a little bit about what you're making and where it comes from. So, we're here to help you figure that out (pesto style).
This classic green sauce originated in Genoa, Italy, and it's typically made by mixing basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese together. The name pesto, which comes from the word pestâ, actually means to pound or crush in Genoese. So, now you're equipped with some fun facts about pesto for your next dinner party.
There's a few reasons we haven't used pesto in many of our recipes. For one, pine nuts are extremely expensive. And two, we've been experimenting with making pesto recipes that just didn't quite cut it.
We took it upon ourselves to create our own version of what we think is the best vegan pesto on the internet. Yes, we really believe it.
We made this pesto without the use of pine nuts to save a few bucks, and instead used cashews. Boy, does pesto ever taste amazing with cashews. It adds a little bit of sweetness and creates an unbelievably creamy texture. But, you'll just have to decide which nuts you prefer on your own.
🍲 Key ingredients
- Sweet basil: what would pesto be without basil? It's what gives traditional pesto the green hue everyone knows and loves. Plus, it adds a unique flavor of citrus and spice. Truly, it's a herb you really need to taste to understand. Just one tablespoon of basil provides you with 13% of your daily vitamin K needs, which is necessary for blood clotting and optimal heart functioning. So, if you needed another excuse to eat more pesto, you just read it.
- Vegan parmesan: our secret weapon in this recipe. Our vegan parmesan is so cheesy, it really sets this pesto apart from the rest. The mix of cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, and salt creates a perfect harmony of vegan deliciousness. We decided to use cashews instead of pine nuts to save some money, but we actually ended up liking the taste even more. Sweeter and creamier than a traditional pesto. Now that's our cup of tea.
- Garlic: do you remember the last pesto you had without garlic? If you do, it was probably a bad experience. Garlic is what really rounds out this recipe, and makes it even more addicting. We always find ourselves toning down the garlic in our recipes to suit the palate of other people. But, there is good reason to load up on it! Research has shown garlic can actually reduce your chances of getting sick compared to a placebo. How cool is that? Neat-ture.
- Olive oil: another key ingredient to make this classic Italian spread more authentic. Olive oil has a distinct taste that you shouldn't try to substitute in this pesto. We use the brand Terra Delyssa, which we really enjoy. We find the taste to be perfectly balanced, but not too intense. Did you know olive oil contains around 70% monounsaturated fat, which has been shown to help lower your LDL cholesterol? (that's the bad kind).
Making this pesto is the best part. You just have to throw all the ingredients into your blender or food processor, turn it on medium, and watch the magic happen. Well, you will need to scrape down the sides a couple times.
Do this for about 1-2 minutes, or until you have a smooth consistency (see photo below). Then, transfer your pesto into a mason jar or container for storing.
And voila! You now have a delicious and easy vegan basil pesto to enjoy on pretty much anything.
This vegan pesto stores in the fridge for up to 1 week. If you're not able to use it up before that, you can always store it in ice cube trays in the freezer for about 1-2 months.
💭 Budget tips
We think everyone should be able to eat better for less, so here are a few tricks to make this recipe even more affordable:
- Try your hand at growing your own basil!
- Purchase your cashews at a bulk food store or Costco if you live near one
- Add more water in to make the pesto last longer
🍴 Tasting notes
This recipe will easily become your new favorite sauce for pasta, pizza, wraps, and more. It's:
If you try this pesto, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Easy Vegan Basil Pesto
- High speed blender or food processor
- 1 ½ cups fresh basil, packed ($1.50)
- ⅓ cup vegan parmesan ($0.64)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.08)
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice ($0.09)
- ⅓ cup olive oil ($0.64)
- 2-4 tbsp water ($0.00)
- Sea salt to taste ($0.01)
- Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor, except the olive oil. Blend on medium until a paste has formed, then slowly add in the oil.
- Blend on medium-high for another 1-2 minutes, or until you reach your desired consistency. Make sure to stop and scrape down the sides as needed.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add lemon juice for more tang, vegan parmesan for a more cheesy flavor, garlic for more punch, or salt for more overall flavor. You can also add more water or vegetable broth in for a thinner consistency. Add in liquid 1 tbsp at a time.
- Serve over pasta, as a pizza sauce, on wraps, sandwiches, or as part of a dip!
- The perfect consistency is best achieved with a high-speed blender or food processor.
- Start with 1 tbsp of lemon juice, and add the 2nd tbsp in if you like more tang like us.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty dips, dressings, and spreads, check out our:
- Creamy vegan ranch for a herbaceous and refreshing take on this long time favorite.
- Vegan parmesan cheese because you don't need dairy to make a great parmesan!
- Creamy vegan Caesar dressing to smother a delicious kale salad with.
- Chili garlic aioli for a creamy dip with a little zing to dip your fries in.
No, you don't have to make the cashew parmesan to make this recipe. Instead, just add 3 tbsp raw cashews, 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast, and a pinch more salt.
Yes, you can use pine nuts instead of cashews as that's what a traditional pesto is made with.
You can make this recipe cheaper by adding in more water to make it last longer.