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How to make dairy-free pesto (Recipe Template)

How to make dairy-free pesto

It’s no secret, I LOVE pesto. I have quite a few recipes on the blog with the green sauce made from all types of greens, like kale, carrot tops (like I have shown here), arugula, spinach… and of course, basil. Those are all my go-to’s when it comes to greens to stuff into my basil because I like to eat it year around and it’s a great way to use up greens and dress up a dish. Making a dairy-free pesto is pretty simple, you just leave out the parmesan, add some sea salt and nutritional yeast and taste test as you go along.

How to make dairy-free pesto


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Keep this in your back pocket, it’s all you need to make deliciously simple pesto on the fly. Make it your own by trying out new types of greens, acid, and even herbs!

  • Greens (I love: kale, spinach, basil, arugula, carrot tops – or a blend of any)
  • Acid (I usually use either lemon or apple cider vinegar)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (no substitutes here – it’s classic!)
  • Garlic (or garlic powder if you have trouble tolerating the cloves or are all out!)
  • Sea Salt
  • Nutritional Yeast (or more sea salt to replace the parmesan)
  • Nuts of choice if tolerating, or omit!
  • optional: herbs (chives, oregano, thyme, rosemary to give it something special)

I usually fill up my little food processor with the cleaned greens and eyeball 1/4 cup olive oil. You can add more greens to make it chunkier like a dip or more oil to make it looser like a sauce. I always mince or roughly chop the garlic before I throw it in to make sure it gets processed very well. The lemon or ACV, I start small with and add more as needed. No matter what, I taste as I go to see what it needs more of.

How to make dairy-free pesto

Which greens to choose? 

  • Carrot Tops (leaves): They contain 6 times the vitamin C of the root (carrot) and are a great source of potassium and calcium.
  • Spinach: High in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese.
  • Kale: High in vitamin K & A, iron and antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory.
  • Basil: Anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and adaptogenic properties with a calming effect.
  • Arugula: High in vitamins A, C and K, folate, and calcium.

How to make dairy-free pesto

Recipe favorites featuring dairy-free PESTO:

Easy Meatballs with Grain-free Pesto Risotto (AIP) >>

Pesto Potato Salad (gluten-free, mayo-free) >>

Vegan Butternut Squash Lasagna w/ Kale Pesto (paleo, vegan) >>

Squash Ravioli w/ Kale Pesto (paleo, vegan) >>

Paleo Spring Flatbread w/ Pesto (AIP) 

How to make dairy-free pesto

all photos by Victoria Jane


Hope you enjoy!
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-Alison Marras
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  1. I often vary the herbs or greens and skip the parmesan, although. Violife do a good vegan one which is so so close to the original.

  2. Decided to give this a try and am so glad that I did; fresah, easy and way better than a store bought version!

  3. Your photos are simply gorgeous! And I love this dairy free pesto as I am lactose intolerant! Thank you for sharing it.

  4. I’m excited to try this for my sister’s birthday dinner this weekend since she cannot eat dairy but loves pesto! Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Enjoyed this on some pasta for dinner tonight and it was hands down delicious! Easily, a new favorite dish; my whole family loved it!

  6. No yeast! Anyone with gluten sensitivity needs to watch out for yeast. Would not use this at all in AIP diet. 

  7. Hi Alison, Id like to know which little food processor is that your using here? too cute, im in need of of this size

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