Vegan Nut-Free Pesto

This Vegan Nut-Free Pesto recipe includes hulled hemp seeds, instead of nuts, making it perfect for folks that have a nut allergy. It’s 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.

Pasta dressed with Pesto

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.

package of Manitoba hemp hearts

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.

Nut-free dairy-free pesto being blended
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5 from 12 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.

Ways to Enjoy Pesto

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.

If you enjoy this Vegan Nut-Free Pesto recipe you may also like my Chickpea Pasta with Sautéed Veggies recipe.


  • 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.

  • Kati Kulcsar
    March 4, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    This is delicious! I’ve been hunting for a dairy free and nut free pesto and this was a hit! My family loved it. ❤️

  • Judy DeLorenzo
    March 4, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    Hi Katy. Thanks for letting us know 🙂
    I’m so glad it was a hit!

  • Elaine
    August 4, 2022 at 11:13 am

    How is it stored, do you place in a jar in the fridge. I am thinking of putting it into small jars, and adding to my basket of Salsas that I make in September, so the recipe needs to include what to do with it after making it, look forward to the response.

    • Judy DeLorenzo
      August 4, 2022 at 2:12 pm

      Hi Elaine,

      For long term storage, I suggest freezing it in half-pint jars. I just made and froze 7 jars of pesto yesterday:) I find a half pint (1 cup) jar of pesto is enough to dress 12-16 ounces of pasta. Be sure to leave a bit of headspace so The jar doesn’t crack when the pesto expands. I also suggest placing a piece of parchment on top of the pesto; this helps to keep it from oxidizing.

      In my oil-free vegan recipe (link above) I explain how to freeze pesto in ice cube trays – but that probably won’t work for your purpose.

      I hope this helps!


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