Basic Dairy-Free Pesto


Chef Jason of the Vegan Culinary Experience was kind enough to share his basic dairy-free pesto recipe with us here (see below), but once you have it down, take a look at the VCE February issue (which is free to view and download) for his Power Pesto, Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, and Walnut Pesto recipe variations, oh yes, and the Pizza with Pesto and Tofu Ricotta too.

Basic Vegan and Dairy-Free Pesto Recipe

To start us out, Chef Jason has some tips for making, presenting, and enjoying this dairy-free pesto recipe:

Find a small, white serving dish, about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and place the pesto in that with a small serving spoon. That’s if you’re going to serve it separately. Usually, pesto is either placed in small mound on top of another recipe or spread on top of it.

Time Management
If you do not serve this fresh, cover it with a thin layer of olive oil to keep the basil from oxidizing, cover it with plastic wrap, and store it in your refrigerator.

Complementary Food and Drinks
Pesto is incredibly versatile. It can be mixed into a soup, thinned out to make a sauce, tossed with veggies, spread on top of something, or be served as a dollop. It can even be used as a dip! One classic recipe with which you can try this is bruschetta. Also, try thinning it out a bit and using it as a thick pasta sauce, lightly coating the pasta.

Where to Shop
Trader Joe’s is absolutely the best commercial chain at which to purchase the basil. You can get a big box of organic basil there for just over $2.00. You can also get big bags of pine nuts at Costco for a very good price.

How It Works
Dairy-free pesto is fairly easy. It’s basically basil blended with fat to make it rich and the garlic is added for a hint of pungent bite. The pine nuts are the main fatty taste with the olive oil added in to smooth it out. The high fat content is one reason that pesto is served as an accent to a dish.

And now for the recipe …

Basic Dairy-Free Pesto
Prep time
Total time
Pesto is one of those fancy recipes that is actually fairly easy to make. Add this to a recipe and you will be an instant gourmet chef to your guests!
Serves: ½ cup
  • 1 cup of basil
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • ⅛ tsp. of salt
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup of pine nuts
  1. In a food processor, place the pine nuts, then the garlic and salt, then the oil, and then the basil.
  2. Press down the basil.
  3. Pulse the ingredients about five times to get them mixed a bit.
  4. Blend the ingredients until they well combined, leaving a little coarseness.
Reprinted with permissions from the February 2009 issue of the Vegan Culinary Experience

Kitchen Equipment
Measuring Spoon
Measuring Cup
Food Processor

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.