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Pistachio Pesto, Vegan

from 4 reader reviews

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Pistachio nuts are perfect for pesto! This pesto is vegan, nutty, and lower oil than some, but with all of the pesto flavor you’d expect! Perfect for pasta, spreads, or dips. You will love the flavor and texture of this dairy-free pistachio pesto.

Bowl of pistachio pesto with sliced bread on which to spread this delicious pesto

Back in the day when I was first learning about plant-based living, I had certain “safe-snack” food I could munch on like hummus, olives, and pesto. That is, till I read the ingredients and learned that my store-bought pesto contained parmesan cheese?

Say what? I was pretty disappointed to say the least. And not just with the pesto, but with me. I couldn’t believe I didn’t bother to check the label first. 

Well, I’ve certainly learned a lot since then. Including how to make and veganize most of my own favorite foods. Like this pistachio pesto!

For more great savory plant-based snack ideas try:

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Bowl of pistachio pesto with sliced bread on which to spread this delicious pesto with Pinterest text overlay

Ingredients needed to make vegan pistachio pesto:

ingredients needed for vegan pistachio pesto including basil leaves, pistachios, olive oil, nutritional yeasts, garlic cloves, lemon juice

An explanation about some of the important ingredients for pistachio pesto

Why pistachios?

Why indeed when pesto is traditionally made with with pine nuts?

Have you ever had a bunch of pine nuts go rancid on you? If it happens only one time, it will be the last. I had some in the cupboard waiting for me to use in a recipe I was working on and waited just a minute too long. And they turned. Yuck!

So when I decided to try my hand at making homemade vegan pesto, I took a hard pass on the pine nuts and started experimenting with other nuts – like this pistachio pesto, my macadamia nut pesto and some others I’ve been working on. I’ve found that each type of nut lends a unique flavor and texture.

The lemon juice

Just putting this out there to feel free to use bottled lemon just for this one. It doesn’t improve the flavor to use fresh lemon juice for this recipe.


I often recommend bottled garlic. In this case, fresh garlic definitely improved the flavor of this recipe. Don’t take a short cut with the garlic. The good news is that you can throw the whole cloves in the food processor without chopping first. You processor will take care of that for you!

ingredients for pistachio pesto in the food processor and ready to go
(Do you see the whole cloves of garlic resting on top? There is no need to chop your garlic cloves before putting them in the food processor. Don’t forget to peel though!)

Extra virgin olive oil

Do use the best you can get with the best flavor. The flavor and quality of the olive oil you use will definitely show in the flavor of the finished product.

You’ll notice that this recipe (and my macadamia nut pest recipe) uses a little less oil than some other homemade pestos do. This was deliberate to try to cut down on the amount of oil used and number of calories I consume!

If you are making this pistachio pesto as a dip or spread, the amount of olive oil in the recipe is perfect. If you are using it to toss with a thin pasta, then add in a little more – a tablespoon at a time to best coat your pasta.

Fresh basil

heaping two cups of fresh basil leaves

This should go without saying, but fresh basil please! For this recipe I use two heaping cups for the best result.

If you are lucky enough to grow your own herb garden, then have fun experimenting with the many different types of basil you can grow! I have to resort to store-bought basil but like to purchase the live basil in a little pot. I set in in a cup of water on my window sill where it will keep for a few days.

How to make and veganize pistachio pesto

The only thing not vegan about pesto is the dairy used. Parmesan cheese isn’t even vegetarian because of the animal rennet used. That’s okay because with a little nutritional yeast, you won’t miss the cheese.

Just put all the ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and process until you have the desired result. I then taste and add in a little salt and pepper if needed.

a spoonful of pistachio pesto from the food processor

If I’m going to use my vegan pesto as a spread or dip, then I like to leave it a little chunky.

If I am going to use my pesto to toss with pasta, then I process a little longer to make it less chunky. I also use a little extra olive oil to better and more evenly coat my pasta You will use about 10 ounces of pasta for the amount of pesto this recipe yields.

bowl of angel-hair spaghetti tossed with pistachio pesto

The printable recipe card

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Bowl of pistachio pesto with sliced bread on which to spread this delicious pesto

Pistachio Pesto, Vegan

Pistachio nuts are perfect for pesto! This pesto is vegan, nutty, and lower oil than some but with all of the pesto flavor you'd expect! Perfect for pasta or dips. You will love the flavor and texture of the dairy-free pistachio pesto.
from 4 reader reviews
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pistachio pesto, vegan pesto
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 258kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


  • food processor or high-speed blender


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves heaping
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios salted
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • cup extra virgin olive oil


  • To a small food processor add the two (heaping) cups fresh basil leaves, pistachio nuts, garlic cloves, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast.
    Drizzle olive oil on top.
  • Following the directions on your food processor, process until the desired consistency is acheived. I like it a little chunkier for dips and for coating large pasta and more liquidy for coating thin pasta. See notes.


If your pistachios are unsalted, then you will want to add in some salt to taste.
I like the pistachios to be a little chunkier for dips and for coating large pasta like rigatoni. If I am tossing with small pasta like thin spaghetti, add up to a Tablespoon more oil and process a little longer to make your pesto smoother and the nuts finer.


Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 239mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 697IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg

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By on January 31st, 2021

About Cindy Rainey

Veggie Fun Kitchen by Cindy Rainey
Welcome to Veggie Fun Kitchen where you will learn to recreate family favorites the plant-based/vegan way! Let me know if I can help. I'm here for you.

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