Condiments, Sauces, Dips, and Dressings

Vegan Nut-Free Pesto

Pasta dressed with pesto
package of Manitoba hemp hearts

This vegan nut-free pesto skips the nuts and includes hulled hemp seeds instead, making it perfect for folks that are allergic to nuts.

Hemp Seeds/Hearts

Hemp seeds are commonly called hemp hearts. Yes they are legal, and no they can’t get you high. Hemp hearts have a nutty flavor and a buttery texture similar to pine nuts. The resulting flavor of this pesto is fresh and bright, and rivals other traditional versions. Considered by many to be a super food, hemp hearts are a good source of essential fatty acids in addition to other important nutrients.

I especially love to make pesto in the summer when the basil is growing freely in the garden. This is an early patch of basil grown last summer. Jamie plants it close together like this, then when he thins it out I have a lot of young basil to cook with early in the season.

Vegan nut-free pesto is a snap to make since everything is blended in the food processor. Washing the basil and removing the leaves from the stems probably takes the longest, but even that is fast and easy.

Method Overview

  • If you are planning on dressing pasta, start by puting a pot of water on the stove to boil.
  • Add the pesto ingredients to your food processor but don’t turn it on yet.
  • When the pasta is ready, turn on the food processor and process until the pesto is at the desired consistency.
  • Dress the pasta and serve.

Nut-free dairy-free pesto being blended
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Vegan Nut-Free Pesto

Here's a recipe that everyone can enjoy, even folks that are allergic to nuts. It makes a half cup of pesto which is enough to dress 12 ounces of pasta.
Course: dressing, main course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: corn-free, gluten-free, nut-fee, plant based, soy-free, vegan, wheat-free, yeast-free
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 73kcal


  • food processor


  • 2 ounces fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup hulled hemp seeds, also called hemp hearts
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Put all of the ingredients into a food processor bowl.
  • Process until it's at the desired consistency, scraping the sides with a soft spatula as needed.


For this amount of pesto, a small processor bowl works best.


Calories: 73kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 106mg | Potassium: 42mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 817IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg

Optional Omnivore Variation

Serve with grated cheese such as Pecorino Romano or Parmesan.

But wait – pesto isn’t just for dressing pasta! It can be used in so many other ways. Enjoy it as a dip, alternate pizza sauce, sandwich spread, salad dressing, tomato spread, soup garnish, and more. Feel free to share other ways you enjoy serving it in the comment box below.


  • Julia Tompkins
    February 10, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    5 stars
    So delicious!! I’ve tried a handful of nut free pestos but this one is the best! I added a few cups of kale to this recipe to add bulk because I don’t have a small food processor :). Will definitely make again!

    • Judy DeLorenzo
      February 10, 2020 at 8:48 pm

      I’m so glad you liked it Julia 🙂 I don’t have a small food processor bowl either at the moment, so I have to scrape the sides of the bowl to get the pesto to evenly blend. BUT I’m ready to buy a new food processor (mine is very old and literally falling apart) and I plan on buying one that comes with the smaller bowl insert.


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