This Homemade Nut Free Basil Pesto Recipe is an easy, allergy-free pesto sauce that is super versatile and tasty! Keep it on hand for gourmet pasta, use it as a sandwich spread, in wraps, as a marinade or even as a salad dressing!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Pesto sauce couldn't be any easier to make at home. I used to buy the jar or even buy those packets of dried pesto (which I am ashamed to admit...), and they don't compare at all to making fresh basil pesto! I made this recipe nut-free simply because that is how I have always made it. Traditional basil pesto has pine nuts in it to make it thick and nutty, but I originally created this recipe to be a salad dressing so I didn't want it to be too thick. And it turned out so good that I have never gone back to making it with nuts!
So skip the nuts, since they are expensive and hard to find sometimes anyways. If you have a nut allergy or someone in your family does, then this recipe is perfect for you! I opted not to add seeds here either. Some recipes say to add sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, or pumpkin seeds but I found that it really isn't necessary. This nut-free pesto recipe is seriously my favorite way to make pesto!
Once to actually blend up the basil with the other ingredients, it doesn't yield a whole lot of sauce, so I always end up adding handful of spinach to make this pesto go further. You can add different greens like carrot tops but I would avoid stringy greens like kale. You can also opt to add in different fresh herbs like parsley!
For creamy pesto, cook your pasta and reserve some salty pasta water. Then in a separate pan, add the cooked pasta, some pesto sauce, a dash of heavy cream and a dash of pasta water. Serve with some fresh cherry tomatoes and you will have a delicious, fresh pasta dinner!
My homemade nut free basil pesto recipe will turn out the best if you use fresh, high quality ingredients since we are only using a handful of ingredients! You don't have to measure everything out exactly, but definitely can if you prefer. Here's what you'll need:
- Fresh Basil: For this basil pesto recipe, you will need fresh basil! Look for some with lush green leaves at the grocery store. Those will have the best flavor! Or, use fresh basil from the garden if you have that on hand.
- Garlic: Garlic adds loads of flavor. You can throw in a few cloves directly into the food processor!
- Parmesan: I highly recommend using freshly grated parmesan from a block of parmesan cheese. If you don't have a block of parmesan, you can use pre-grated parmesan but try to use a high quality brand! If you are new to grated your own parmesan cheese, I love to use a microplane for super fluffy cheese!
- Salt: You can salt your nut free basil pesto to your own taste.
- Lemon: Fresh lemon juice really lifts and brightens the pesto sauce. I wouldn't just bottled lemon juice since it has a slightly fake flavor!
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Use some high quality extra virgin olive oil for the best results! This offers tons of healthy fats!
- Spinach: I like to add some baby spinach to my pesto because it will make your pesto go farther without changing the flavor and adds in some extra nutrients!
How to Make This Recipe
- Combine Ingredients: Combine the basil leaves (remove any thick stems), garlic cloves, grated parmesan, a pinch of salt, and a freshly squeezed lemon into a food processor. Blend on high, while slowly pouring in the olive oil.
- Add Spinach if Needed: Once the mixture is blended and all of the olive oil is added, give it a taste to adjust for salt. If you want more pesto sauce or you want it thicker, add spinach. This doesn't add a lot of flavor, but adds some extra volume and hidden veggies!
- Serve: Serve with pasta or store in the fridge for up to 5 days and use on salads, sandwiches and more!
Tips & Tricks
- Adjust to your liking! I personally like a slightly tangy pesto sauce, but if you aren't, then add only half of the lemon to start!
- Use up that surplus of basil from your garden! This is a great way to use up any fresh basil you have on hand. You can make a big batch and freeze it for later!
- Not allergic to nuts? You might not need a nut free pesto recipe in that case. You can feel free to add a handful of pine nuts here, which will make this pesto a bit thicker and have a nuttier flavor like traditional pesto sauce.
- Substitute Pecorino Romano! You can change out the parmesan for some freshly grated pecorino romano. This is a hard cheese that is similar to parmesan, with a slightly stronger flavor since it is made from sheep's milk. I personally prefer the taste of parmesan cheese!
Frequently Asked Questions
Throw this pesto in with some freshly made pasta, use is as a sandwich spread with a little mayo, use it in a pasta salad, drizzle it over roasted potatoes, or use it as a marinade for chicken or salmon! For real, the possibilities for this homemade nut free pesto are endless!
Store any leftovers in a jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The basil may start to slightly oxidize, so it won't be that vibrant, gorgeous green color that it once was, but it will still be fine to eat!
Definitely! You can use the ice cube tray hack and freeze any leftover pesto sauce in an ice cube trays, then transfer to a freezer bag and take the ice cubes out as you need them.
Yes! You can definitely use a blender if you don't have a food processor, but it might won't be exactly the same texture. Try to just blend a little bit after each addition of ingredients so that you don't over process it!
More Recipes to Try
Homemade Nut Free Basil Pesto Recipe
- 2.5 oz fresh basil about 1 1/3 cups packed
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or 1/4 cup pre-grated
- salt to taste
- 1 lemon juiced
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- spinach as needed
- Combine basil leaves (remove any thick stems), garlic cloves, parmesan, a pinch of salt, and freshly squeezed lemon into a food processor. Blend on high, while slowly pouring in the olive oil.
- Once the mixture is blended and all the olive oil is added, give it a taste to adjust for salt. If you want more pesto, add spinach. This does not add a lot of flavor, but adds some volume and extra hidden veggies.
- Serve with pasta or store in the fridge for up to 5 days and use on salads, sandwiches and more!