The easiest 5-minute nut-free basil pesto recipe made without pine nuts. It’s bright, flavorful, and only calls for six healthy ingredients. Way better and healthier than any store-bought version!
Best basil pesto recipe without pine nuts
Pesto is so versatile and can be used in many ways! You can use it as a sauce for tuna pasta or orzo salad. You can use it as a steak, shrimp, or chicken marinade. And you can even drizzle it over roasted or grilled vegetables. Or use it as a dip for smashed potatoes.
Before I started cooking, I always thought pesto was hard to make. I was SO wrong! Pesto is so easy to make that you only need a food processor and 5 minutes.
This pesto is garlicky, fresh, and bright. The fresh basil, parmesan, and garlic add the best depth of flavor. But the best part is that this recipe doesn’t call for pine nuts or walnuts, so it’s nut-free! But, don’t worry, it is so flavorful that I promise you cannot tell.
My family is obsessed! I always keep a jar of this nut-free pesto in my fridge. It stores well, and I add it to my salads and sandwiches and even drizzle it over leftovers to brighten them up.
Why you’ll love this nut-free recipe:
- There are no pine nuts in this pesto recipe.
- It’s light, refreshing, garlicky, and super flavorful.
- This recipe is 100% nut-free.
- Serve with pasta, salads, roasted veggies, or as a condiment.
- It’s made with 6 simple and healthy ingredients.
- Ready in less than 5 minutes.
- Great for meal prep.
- Tastes like basil and garlic.
- You can make it dairy free and vegan too!
- It’s lower in calories than traditional recipes.
- Try this tuna pesto pasta or this orzo pesto salad next!
Ingredients needed & substitutions
This healthy pesto recipe is perfect all year long and will surely be a crowd-pleaser. It’s made without pine nuts and comes together in 5 minutes. Here is a list of ingredients so you are prepared:
- Basil: This adds the best bright and fresh flavor! You’ll need 2 cups of basil leaves. Make sure to remove any large pieces of the stem if you are picking it off a plant.
- Baby Spinach: This adds volume and lots of vitamin A to this healthy pesto recipe. You can also use English spinach; just remove the stems.
- Lemon Juice: For a tangy flavor. I love the taste of lemon juice, and a little goes a long way in this nut-free pesto recipe. But feel free to add more if you want!
- Garlic: You only need 1 clove to add the best garlic flavor. If required, you can use 1 – 1.5 teaspoons of garlic powder.
- Salt & Black Pepper: To your taste preference.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: This makes the pesto light and smooth. You only need 1/4 cup, which is much less than traditional recipes and makes this pesto healthy and skinny. Feel free to use avocado oil too.
- Parmesan Cheese: For the absolute best flavor. This is my secret to making this nut-free pesto have a deep flavor without pine nuts. If needed, you can use Romano cheese or nutritional yeast (if you are dairy-free).
How to make basil pesto without pine nuts
This delicious nut-free basil pesto is healthy, flavorful, and super easy to make in less than 5 minutes. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures for visual reference so any level cook can make them. The full recipe and ingredient measurements are at the bottom of this page in the recipe card.
First, add the basil leaves and baby spinach to a food processor and pulse several times.
Then, add the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper and pulse a few more times. Then, use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor.
Next, set the food processor to low and gradually add the olive oil in a steady stream. This method helps emulsify the oil into the pesto.
Finally, add the parmesan cheese and pulse to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking and enjoy this pesto without pine nuts!
What to serve with pesto:
Pesto is typically served with pasta or tortellini, but there are so many other ways too! Here are some ideas for you:
- Make a summer orzo salad.
- With pasta – I love this tuna pesto pasta.
- Drizzle it over your favorite roasted vegetables. I love cauliflower and broccoli.
- Marinate your chicken, steak, salmon, or shrimp in it.
- Use it as a salad dressing. I love it in this kale crunch salad.
- Spoon it over pizza.
- Use it as a dip. I love these crispy smashed potatoes or these sweet potato fries.
- Spread it on bread for a sandwich.
- Serve it as a sauce for any grilled or baked protein. I love this crispy salmon and chicken recipe.
Tips for making homemade pesto:
- Use fresh, leafy basil. This is so important for the flavor of your pesto! Make sure your basil is fresh and green.
- Add the olive oil as the pesto is blending on low. This method helps emulsify the oil into the pesto and ensures that it’s not oily.
- Double or triple the recipe. Double this recipe if you want to keep pesto on hand in your fridge for an easy pasta dinner. Homemade pesto is great for meal prep.
- Make it vegan. You can make this nut-free pesto vegan by using nutritional yeast instead of parmesan cheese.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is pesto good for you?
Yes, when consumed in moderation, pesto is healthy and good for you. In this pesto recipe without pine nuts, the spinach adds lots of vitamin A, the basil is packed with vitamin K, and the olive oil and parmesan add healthy fats.
Why is this pesto recipe healthy?
This nut-free pesto recipe is healthy for many reasons: (1) it is packed with nutrients and vitamins, (2) it’s made with half the amount of olive oil called for in traditional recipes, (3) there is no added sugar or preservatives, (4) it is gluten-free, (5) it is made with four simple and healthy ingredients, and (6) you can make it dairy free and vegan.
Can I make it dairy free?
To make this pesto dairy-free, substitute the parmesan cheese with 2 – 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
Can I eat this pesto if I am allergic to nuts?
This pesto recipe is 100% nut-free and made without pine nuts. It is safe to enjoy if you have a nut allergy.
Is this pesto recipe skinny?
Yes, this pesto recipe is considered “skinny” because it is lower in calories than traditional recipes and has half the amount of olive oil.
How long does it keep?
Homemade pesto will keep in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 7 days.
Is pesto gluten-free?
Yes, pesto is gluten-free, especially homemade pesto recipes, since there are no bread crumbs. If buying store-bought pesto, check the label to ensure no cross-contamination.
Can I freeze pesto?
You can freeze pesto for up to 3 months. Just add it to a freezer-safe bag or container.
How to store leftover pesto:
Store leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
If you love this recipe, try these next!
- Tuna Pesto Pasta
- Orzo Pesto Salad
- Goat Cheese & Pesto Crusted Chicken
- Pesto Salmon with Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli
- Broccoli Cheddar Turkey Meatball Poppers
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Pesto without Pine Nuts
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, packed
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, about ½ a lemon
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
- ½ tsp salt, or to taste
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Add the basil leaves and baby spinach to a food processor and pulse several times. See the pictures above for reference.
- Add the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper and pulse a few more times. Then, use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor.
- Set the food processor to low and gradually add the olive oil in a steady stream. This method helps emulsify the oil into the pesto to make it smooth.
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