This Easy Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto comes together in under 5 minutes and is fresh, flavorful, and the perfect condiment to have on hand to add to many different meals. I especially enjoy serving this delicious easy vegan basil pesto over tofu ricotta stuffed shells, gnocchi, and sandwiches.
The best part of this homemade cashew pesto is that it can be made quickly in a food processor or blender. I'd say this would take under 5 minutes to pull together then you can have it on hand for all your pesto creations. Pesto is seriously delicious on just about anything.
Classic basil pesto typically has pine nuts and parmesan but in this vegan version, we will be using cashews, lots of basil, and nutritional yeast!
You'll need a food processor or blender for this recipe. I used a nutri-bullet. Stop and scrape the sides to make sure everything is well incorporated and the cashews get chopped finely.
This easy cashew pesto recipe comes together in under 5 minutes and tastes absolutely amazing on sandwiches, your favorite pasta, grain bowls, and more!
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- Lemon Juice
- Nutritional Yeast
- Olive Oil
This basil cashew pesto contains simple ingredients and is a super easy recipe to prep ahead of time and store in an airtight container or simple enough to whip up and create a quick and easy vegan dinner. Add roasted vegetables, protein, and your favorite pasta and you've got yourself a delicious meal!
- Basil: Fresh basil is preferred for this cashew pesto but if you dislike basil, use any fresh herbs you enjoy.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon juice helps balance out the flavors. You can also add some lemon zest!
- Garlic: What's pesto without garlic? Fresh garlic adds great flavor.
- Cashew Nuts: I used cashews instead of the more traditional pine nuts- you could also use walnuts or even almonds. I love creamy cashews but any nut will work!
- Nutritional Yeast: Instead of parmesan, I used nutritional yeast. It adds a great flavor- you can use vegan parmesan if you don't have any nutritional yeast.
- Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is a key ingredient in pesto- don't skip it!
How to Make this Recipe
Add all the ingredients of this creamy cashew pesto to a food processor or blender and blend a few times until combined. Add water as needed to help blend.
You may or may not need 3 tablespoons- this really depends on your food processor or blender.
Transfer the pesto to an airtight jar to store in the fridge or use immediately. Enjoy!
What can I put this vegan pesto on?
- Make pesto pasta or drizzle it over vegan ricotta stuffed shells or even on top of your traditional spaghetti and veggie meatballs or gnocchi
- Add to sandwiches with vegan chicken and vegan mozzarella cheese
- Drizzling over roasted vegetables and grilled tofu or on top of a salad
- Serve drizzled over homemade pizza
- Mix it into potato salad or pasta salad or use it as a salad dressing
- More pesto recipes: Creamy Vegan Broccoli Pesto Pasta w/ Roasted Cauliflower and Vegan Tofu Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Change up this cashew basil pesto recipe however you’d like! Taste and adjust it to your preference by adding more olive oil, garlic, salt, or lemon. It’s all up to you and what flavor you want to bring forward.
You can also change it up by adding pine nuts instead of cashews or adding spinach or kale along with the fresh basil. This recipe is very forgiving and is delicious in almost every variation.
Add red pepper flakes for a little heat or red peppers to change it up and create a red pepper pesto as well as kale for kale pesto. The options are endless!
The great thing about this delicious pesto is how forgiving it is! This vegan cashew pesto can be made in a variety of ways and still come out tasty and delicious.
- Basil: You can use parsley, a mix of herbs, kale or baby spinach!
- Garlic: I recommend garlic-infused olive oil in replace of fresh garlic cloves if you're sensitive to garlic or want to leave it out. It gives the pesto a lot of flavor so I wouldn't completely eliminate it.
- Cashews: I always have cashews in my pantry so it's my go-to for pesto but you can replace this with walnuts or pine nuts- you can use any kind of nut. I do recommend that you toast the nuts before adding them to the pesto. I usually buy pre-roasted cashews
- Nutritional Yeast: I love the addition of nutritional yeast. It adds the cheesy flavor that you'd typically get from parmesan cheese. Follow Your Heart and Violife have delicious vegan-friendly parmesan cheeses that would work well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditional basil pesto has parmesan cheese in it but can easily be substituted with vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast and trust me when I say that the cheese won't be missed.
You should use homemade pesto within 3-5 days. The top of the pesto turns brown when stored because it is exposed to air but this can be prevented by adding some more olive oil over the top. You can still eat it if the top turned a little brown.
Yes! Store pesto in an airtight jar in the fridge for 3-5 days.
I recommend freezing them in ice cube trays and popping them out and adding them to the pan with your pasta or vegetables.
More Sauce & Dip Recipes
- Caramelized Onion Cashew Cheese Dip
- Whipped Vegan Feta w/ Spicy Maple Drizzle
- Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Sauce
Easy Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto
- 2 ½ cup Fresh Basil Leaves packed
- ¼ cup Olive Oil
- ¼ cup Cashews chopped finely
- ¼ cup Nutritional Yeast
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
- Zest from Lemon optional
- 2-3 tablespoons Water as needed
- Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend a few times until combined. Add water as needed to help blend. You may or may not need 3 tablespoons- this really depends on your food processor or blender. Transfer the pesto to an airtight jar to store in the fridge or use immediately. Enjoy!