Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto (Easy Dairy-Free Recipe)

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This vibrant Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto harnesses the rich and creamy flavour of toasted walnuts to create a herby, savoury and flavoursome pesto without the need for pine nuts. Read on to discover how to create an easy vegan basil pesto using walnuts.

Pesto is a beautifully versatile sauce that pairs well with a wide variety of savoury dishes. It can be made with a range of different nuts and seeds, depending on your taste and budget preferences.

This vegan walnut pesto is quick and easy to make, taking just 10 minutes and using 5 ingredients (plus a little seasoning). We use toasted walnuts in this recipe to add a depth of flavour and remove some of the bitterness from the nut (we explain how in the ‘steps’ section) and we also use vegan nutritional yeast to add a boost of savoury, cheesy flavour.

Use this Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto to add a pop of bright, herby flavour to your meals – it’s delicious stirred into pasta, swirled into soup and drizzled over pizza to give just a few examples!

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Three small golden bowls of vegan basil walnut pesto sat on a rustic table top, with a spoonful of vibrant pesto being lifted out of the middle bowl.

Did you know? In addition to this easy recipe for Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto, we’ve got several other vegan and dairy-free pesto recipes on the blog, including:

Click the recipe name above to head straight to the recipe, if you’re looking for these alternatives.

What is Pesto?

The vibrant green sauce ‘pesto’ originates from Italy and is known for it’s herby, fresh flavour.

Traditional pesto is made with basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and olive oil. Over time, many variations have emerged, using a variety of nuts and seeds, as well as greens such as spinach, kale and rocket in place of basil leaves.

Success Tips

  1. Always toast the walnuts. Walnuts can have a slight bitterness to them so it’s important to toast them before use, as this softens some of that harshness as well as intensifying their nutty flavor. To toast the walnuts, add them to a dry frying pan (without oil) and place the pan over a low-medium heat. Stir the walnuts occasionally until lightly golden and omitting a nutty aroma (around 5 minutes).
  2. Opt for extra-virgin olive oil. For the best flavour, opt for good quality extra-virgin olive oil.
  3. Adjust the consistency with water. If you’re looking for a thick pesto (like you would usually get from the shop in a jar), make the recipe as stated. If you’d like a thinner smooth sauce, that you can drizzle over pizza or salad, add a little cold water and briefly blend until it reaches the desired consistency.
  4. How to refrigerate homemade pesto. Keep your vegan basil walnut pesto in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Add a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto, or cover with a layer of eco-cling film, before adding your container lid to help preserve some of that beautiful bright green colour.
  5. How to freeze homemade pesto. You can freeze homemade pesto into ice cube trays to give you single serve portions. Once the pesto has frozen in the ice cube tray, transfer the pesto cubes to an airtight container and store them in the freezer. You can either defrost the cubes as needed in the refrigerator overnight or put one straight from the freezer into a pan of cooked, drained pasta set over a medium heat. Add a small splash of water and as the pesto melts, stir it into the pasta and serve once hot; an easy weeknight meal!

An overhead photograph of vegan basil walnut pesto in three small gold bowls

How to make Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto


Here are the simple ingredients you need to make this easy basil walnut pesto recipe:


Fresh basil leaves. You can use the stalks too.

Nutritional yeast. This adds a salty, cheesy flavour that is completely vegan. Many supermarkets stock nutritional yeast; it looks like little flakes of puff pastry (look for the ‘Marigold’ brand in your local grocery store if you’re in the UK).

Olive oil. Ideally extra virgin olive oil

Garlic. Opt for fresh garlic cloves if possible

Seasoning. Sea salt and black pepper

The ingredients for making vegan basil walnut pesto


You’ll need a food processor or high speed blender for this easy vegan pesto recipe.


Make sure to head to the recipe card below for the full recipe and instructions on how to make this easy walnut pesto!

Gather together your ingredients.

Toast the raw walnuts by adding them to a dry frying pan (no oil) and frying them over a low-medium heat until golden and aromatic (around 5 minutes).

Add the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are combined.  Taste and add extra salt if needed.

Store the vegan basil walnut pesto in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To preserve the colour as best as possible, cover the pesto with eco cling film (with the film touching the top of the pesto) or add a thin layer of olive oil on top of the surface of the pesto before adding an airtight lid.

Alternatively, freeze the pesto into ice cube trays for ready-to-use single servings that will last for 2 months in the freezer. It’s great to use in pasta!

A food processor filled with the ingredients needed to make walnut pesto
A freshly made batch of vegan basil walnut pesto in a food processor

5 Ways To Serve Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto

  1. Stir it into pasta. Try our Crispy Sausage Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pesto, stir it into your favourite tomato-based pasta sauce or keep it simple with pesto pasta.
  2. In a vegan cheese toastie. Melted vegan cheese, pesto and cherry tomato slices in a crisp toastie – delicious!
  3. As a pizza sauce. Spread pesto on a pizza base and top it with vegan cheese and roasted vegetables (red and yellow peppers, courgette, red onion and tomatoes would all work well).
  4. Swirl it into a veggie soup. Walnut basil pesto will add a pop of flavour to your soup and works particularly well with those that are tomato-based, such as our Farmhouse Vegetable Soup.
  5. Drizzled over ciabatta. Cut a ciabatta in half and lightly fry it in a little olive oil. Top it with fresh rocket (arugula), fried cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of vegan pesto sauce – perfection!

Close up of a small bowl of vegan basil walnut pesto


Can I substitute walnuts for pine nuts in pesto?

Walnuts make a great substitute for the more expensive pine nut in pesto. In this recipe we show you how to make Walnut Pesto, but we’ve also got several other vegan pesto recipes for you to try, depending on the nuts and seeds you have available to you:

What is walnut pesto made of?

Our walnut pesto is made from 5 main ingredients – toasted walnuts, fresh basil, nutritional yeast (for that cheesy flavour), extra-virgin olive oil and garlic (plus a little seasoning).

How much pesto per serving?

This vegan basil walnut pesto recipe makes approximately 1 jar of pesto (200ml), which is approximately 6 servings (around 30ml per serving).

How long does walnut pesto last?

Store leftover fresh vegan walnut pesto for up to 3 days in the fridge or up to 2 months in the freezer.

When storing in the fridge, cover the pesto with eco cling film (with the film touching the top of the pesto) or a little extra olive oil before adding an airtight lid.  This will help to preserve the colour.

Can I freeze pesto?

Yes, pesto can be frozen for up to 2 months.  Add the pesto to ice cube trays and, once frozen, transfer these frozen cubes to an air-tight container or freezer bag.  Each cube will make a perfect single-serving that can either be added straight to the pan to stir into cooked drained pasta and warm through, or defrosted in the fridge to drizzle over soups and salads.

Loved this Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto? Here are some more classic pesto recipes to try:

I hope you LOVE this recipe for Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto! Please share this recipe with someone you think will love it because it’s our goal to encourage as many people as possible to try plant based eating.

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The Written Recipe:

Close up overhead photograph of a small bowl of vegan walnut pesto, surrounded by raw walnuts and fresh basil leaves

Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto (Easy Recipe)

This vibrant Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto harnesses the rich and creamy flavour of toasted walnuts to create a herby, savoury and flavoursome pesto without the need for pine nuts.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment, Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Serves: 6 servings
Calories: 168kcal
Author: Tara


  • 60 g walnuts
  • 60 g fresh basil leaves
  • 7 g nutritional yeast
  • 70 ml olive oil (extra-virgin ideally)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • tsp ground black pepper


  • It’s important to first toast the walnuts because this adds a depth of flavour and removes some of the bitterness from the walnuts. To do this, add the walnuts to a dry frying pan (no oil) and toast over low-medium heat until the walnuts omit a nutty aroma and turn lightly golden (around 5 minutes).
    60 g walnuts
  • Add all of the pesto ingredients to a food processor, starting with 1/4 tsp salt.
    60 g fresh basil leaves, 7 g nutritional yeast, 70 ml olive oil, 2 medium cloves garlic, 1/4-1/2 tsp salt, ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
  • Pulse until combined, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl as necessary before blending again. Taste and add more salt if desired.
  • To store the pesto, add it to a dish and cover it in eco cling film (with the film touching the top of the pesto) and then add an airtight lid. Alternatively, you can add a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto instead of using cling film, before adding an airtight lid.
  • Store the pesto in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze using an ice cube tray for single servings that you can use for a quick meal.


Vegan / Dairy Free / Egg Free / Gluten Free / Refined Sugar Free / Soy Free / Raw
Recipe inspired by: Italy
Please check the allergens on the ingredients you purchase before use. The allergen and nutritional information provided in this recipe is intended as a guide only and is based on the specific ingredients and brands used at the time of creating the recipe, therefore we cannot guarantee that the same will apply to the ingredients you use.
Prep time excludes any inactive time.
We highly recommend you use the metric and 1x options on this recipe card for the best results. Please note that this recipe has not been tested using US measurements or increasing ingredient quantities to 2x or 3x, therefore results may vary.


Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 99mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.3g | Net Carbohydrates: 1g
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Hi, I’m Tara! I’m taking you on a trip around the world in vegan cuisine and bringing the world’s most delicious dishes to your kitchen.