Cheesy Vegan Pesto

This vegan pesto recipe is easy to make with flavorful ingredients like cashews, nutritional yeast, and miso paste for a cheesy fermented taste. This plant-based pesto is perfect for vegan pesto pasta, a pesto pizza, and served as a dip or spread on a dairy-free snack board. It can be made with spinach, basil, or a combination of the two which makes this the perfect recipe for any time of year. You’ll be shocked how easy it is to make your own homemade pesto!

This vegan pesto recipe is easy to make with flavorful ingredients like cashews, nutritional yeast, and miso paste for a cheesy fermented taste. This plant-based pesto is perfect for vegan pesto pasta, a pesto pizza, and served as a dip or spread on a dairy-free snack board. It can be made with spinach, basil, or a combination of the two which makes this the perfect recipe for any time of year. You’ll be shocked how easy it is to make your own homemade pesto!


In this house, we’re pesto people. Cheesy vegan pesto people, to be exact.

We spread it on toast with roasted tomatoes, use it to jazz up our sandwiches and biscuits, add it to pizza and pasta dishes, and – let’s face it – eat it straight out of the food processor.

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There are so many reasons we love this awesome spread; I thought I’d make a list of…

Top 5 Reasons Why This Pesto Is the Besto:

  1. It’s so easy to throw together – a major plus for lazy after-work snacks and dinners
  2. This dairy-free pesto is a great way to get your greens without actually feeling like you’re eating greens – a major plus for picky eaters everywhere.
  3. It’s jam-PACKED with flavor – a plus for…. umm… anyone with taste buds?!
  4. It’s totally customizable – Have some greens, fresh herbs, and spices?  You’re good to go! We included substitution options for special diets like oil-free too!
  5. It just makes everything fancier without a ton of effort – a plus for perfectionists everywhere.
Vegan pesto ingredient shot: shredded spinach, shredded fresh basil, olive oil, raw cashews, white miso paste, minced garlic, nutritional yeast, and sea salt.

Dairy-Free Pesto Ingredients

All you need is 8 ingredients (some slightly surprising perhaps) to make this easy vegan pesto.

Cashews – Make sure they’re unroasted and unsalted. Cashews are a cheaper and slightly more common stand-in for the classic pine nuts.

Fresh basil and/or spinach – You can use all of one or a combination of the two. That’s a trick I love to use in the winter months when fresh herbs are scarce and expensive. Shredding your basil/spinach before blending it will help it break down evenly.

Nutritional yeast – This is a vegan pantry staple that adds a nutty/cheesy flavor. It’s not the same as the yeast you use for bread. You can also use our Vegan Cheese Seasoning.

Fresh garlic – Mince it up yourself or buy it pre-minced — Mincing the garlic before blending will keep the pieces even.

White miso paste – This may be a surprising ingredient, but it adds an AMAZING cheesy flavor to your vegan pesto thanks to its fermented taste. If you don’t have it, you could also use the liquid from a jar or can of sauerkraut or kimchi.

Sea salt – Use less or more depending on your tastes and what kind of herbs/greens you’re using.Olive oil – Use the GOOD stuff here; you deserve it! If you’re oil-free, you can sub the same amount of silken tofu or 1/2 large ripe avocado + enough cold water to get the food processor moving. Always taste and adjust the seasonings — especially if you’re making these changes!

This vegan pesto recipe is easy to make with flavorful ingredients like cashews, nutritional yeast, and miso paste for a cheesy fermented taste. This plant-based pesto is perfect for vegan pesto pasta, a pesto pizza, and served as a dip or spread on a dairy-free snack board. It can be made with spinach, basil, or a combination of the two which makes this the perfect recipe for any time of year. You’ll be shocked how easy it is to make your own homemade pesto!

How to Make Homemade Vegan Pesto

When we say this cheesy vegan pesto is easy to make, we mean it! It’s almost as easy as opening a jar of store-bought pesto but every bit as delicious, if not more.

First, you’ll place the cashews in your food processor and pulse them a few times until they’re a light fluffy dust consistency.

First step in making vegan pesto: Add the raw cashews to a blender and pulse until they're a powdery consistency.

From there, you’ll add the rest of the ingredients and blend it up in the food processor until everything is evenly minced and combined.

Step 2 for making vegan pesto: add the shredded spinach and fresh basil, minced garlic, white miso paste, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and sea salt to a food processor and blend until combined and a nice smooth sauce texture is achieved.

And voila! Cheesy vegan pesto perfection ready to be spread allllll over your life.

This vegan pesto recipe is easy to make with flavorful ingredients like cashews, nutritional yeast, and miso paste for a cheesy fermented taste. This plant-based pesto is perfect for vegan pesto pasta, a pesto pizza, and served as a dip or spread on a dairy-free snack board. It can be made with spinach, basil, or a combination of the two which makes this the perfect recipe for any time of year. You’ll be shocked how easy it is to make your own homemade pesto!

If and when you give this cheesy vegan pesto recipe a try, let us know what you thought and how you used it! 

Leave a comment and rate the recipe below or tag us in your vibrant and DELICIOUS photos on Instagram. In case you’re not already hanging out with us over there, we are @theplantpowercouple with the “the”.

Enjoy, friends!

Yield: 8 oz pesto

Basil Spinach Pesto

This vegan pesto recipe is easy to make with flavorful ingredients like cashews, nutritional yeast, and miso paste for a cheesy fermented taste. This plant-based pesto is perfect for vegan pesto pasta, a pesto pizza, and served as a dip or spread on a dairy-free snack board. It can be made with spinach, basil, or a combination of the two which makes this the perfect recipe for any time of year. You’ll be shocked how easy it is to make your own homemade pesto!

15 minPrep Time:

15 minTotal Time:

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cashews (unroasted and unsalted)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded fresh spinach (or replace as much of this as you want with basil)
  • 3/4 cup shredded fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Place the cashews in a small food processor and pulse until a light fluffy dust remains.
  2. Then, add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and blend on a low setting, stopping to scrape the sides as needed, until all ingredients are minced and well-incorporated.
  3. Use this pesto on bread, pasta, pizza, or straight out of the food processor. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or the freezer for up to 2 months. Enjoy!

Notes

To make this oil-free, sub silken tofu for the oil OR use 1/2 large ripe avocado + enough cold water to get the food processor moving.

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7 thoughts on “Cheesy Vegan Pesto

  1. Will be making this soon i never had cheesy pesto before i love pesto soooooooooooo much perfect for my pasta / pizza and pesto wraps will dm you guys if i make this and let you guys know how it goes Thanks Ramya
  2. OMG! My garden pot is overflowing with basil... I am making The Plant Power Couple's vegan pesto this weekend served with penne pasta. I've opted for pine nuts (you're right - too expensive, but I already have them in the fridge), and your recipe for vegan cheese seasoning, olive oil, fresh garlic, cracked black pepper, and LOTS of fresh green basil. Voila! I can't wait :) PS: I know it'll be good, so I've already rated it...
  3. Made this today! So so yummy! Will definitely make it again. I added half an avocado because I had it and I needed to use it, and I also added a bit of fresh lemon juice. Thanks for the recipe!

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