Dairy-Free Pesto

Dairy-Free Pesto

Dairy-Free Pesto

I ate a lot of tomato based sauces in my college years.  I tired of it and avoided it when eating Italian for a while.  That’s when I discovered that Italian food and pastas do not always have to be slathered in a tomato sauce.  I ate spaghetti with nothing but grated Parmesan cheese from the plastic container and dried oregano and dried basil for years.  Moving to Kentucky brought more experiences in having pasta with pesto or lemon butter wine sauces.   Then there is the Browned Butter with Mizithra Chesse at The Old Spaghetti Factory.  If I can ever have dairy again, that might be my first food outing.

Going dairy-free seemed a bit limiting at first.  Then I slowly started to learn how I can make different things that used to have dairy in them either with a dairy-free replacement or without any kind of replacement at all.  Mexican foods I just don’t even bother with dairy-free cheeses anymore.  I either don’t like the taste and/or smell, or it has casein in it which really doesn’t make it dairy-free in my eyes.

One of the things I decided I needed to conquer was pesto even though I do tomato sauces now.  I didn’t want to get tired of tomato sauce again.  I love a good pesto and making it is so easy that it can be done while your gluten-free pasta is boiling in salty water.  Or you can make a batch or two ahead of time and freeze them in an ice cube tray to keep longer.

Adjust the ingredients to your taste.  If you want more garlic, add more garlic.  If you want it cheesier, add more nutritional yeast.  Just make sure you keep tasting and adjusting.

Dairy-Free Pesto – yield about 1/2 cup

2 cups fresh basil, packed

3 cloves garlic

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup pine nuts or raw walnuts

pinch of salt

Olive oil

Add all ingredients but the olive oil to a food processor.  Start the food processor and slowly drizzle the olive oil through the feeder tube.  Add as much oil to make the pesto the consistency you want.  Some people like theirs thin.  I like mine thick.  Scrape down the sides of the processor.  Taste and adjust ingredients or salt and process again.

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker, Wellness Weekend at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs, and 5 Ingredient Mondays at The Daily Dietribe.


  1. I have not tried making pesto since going dairy free. I don’t know why, since I have left cheese out of so many other things and still enjoyed them. I like the nutritional yeast idea. Thanks for the inspiration to eat pesto again!

    • It’s funny the things we don’t even think to try to make sometimes, isn’t it? I’ve actually made the pesto quite a few times, but I always forget to write down the measurements. It’s a good thing I have more time to purposefully make things for the blog now. 😀 I hope you start enjoying pesto again, Linda!

  2. I really could have used some of this last night when my family and I made homemade gf pizzas. I like pesto more than tomato sauce for my pizza. Actually, my favorite is a combo of both, but if I had to choose, I would go with pesto.

    Thanks for joining in at 5-Ingredient Mondays!

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