Homemade Paleo Basil Pesto (Dairy-Free)

Making your own paleo pesto is super easy and it’s more versatile in the kitchen than you imagine. All you need is fresh basil, olive oil, lemon juice and a touch of garlic. This recipe is dairy-free and vegan-friendly, Whole30, gluten-free, and keto.

Paleo Basil Pesto Recipe Dairy-Free

This homemade basil pesto is super versatile in the kitchen. I often make a batch of this dairy-free recipe and store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks to use up in many different recipes.

My favourite ways to use pesto include adding it to scrambled eggs, drizzling it over roasted or steamed vegetables (especially pumpkin and carrots), using it with grilled chicken or fish, mixing in with meatballs or using as a condiment with burgers, adding it to salad dressings and aioli.

The nice thing about making your own pesto is that you can mix in any other herbs as well as rocket/arugula, spinach or other leafy greens. Pesto is great for using up things like the green tops of young carrots, or the stalks of rainbow chard or other greens.

Homemade dairy-free pesto recipe


How To Paleo Make Basil Pesto

If you can’t find pine nuts or they’re out of your budget, try adding some cashew nuts, hazelnuts, or almonds instead. The nuts add a little creaminess as well as that warm, earthy flavour to the pesto.

Regular pesto is made with Parmesan cheese, or other similar aged cheeses, but for a dairy-free version, you can simply go without or add nutritional yeast flakes, which is what I do in this recipe. Nutritional yeast flakes are little yellow flakes of deactivated yeast and they have a lovely savoury, cheesy, umami flavour. They’re also a great source of B-vitamins. You can find nutritional yeast flakes in most health food stores and online.

Store this pesto in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. The top layer of the pesto will change colour as it gets exposed to oxygen, so simply stir the pesto before using or scoop the top layer off, if you want the fresher, greener sauce. If you don’t plan to use the pesto for a few days, you can add a tablespoon of olive oil over the top to seal the top layer and freeze the pesto for later. 

Paleo Pesto Recipe Dairy-Free

More Dairy-Free & Paleo Pesto Recipes

Chunkier Cashew Basil Pesto Cream

Basil Rocket Pesto

Creamy Artichoke Pesto

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Homemade paleo basil pesto (dairy-free)

Dairy-Free & Paleo Basil Pesto Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Author: Irena Macri
Servings: 2 cups
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Italian
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4.67 from 9 votes
Calories: 92kcal
This delicious homemade paleo pesto is a dairy-free version of the Italian classic. It's a versatile condiment that can be used as a spread, topping, drizzle, dressing or sauce.


  • 1 large bunch of basil leaves only (about 2-3 cups)
  • 2/3 cup olive oil extra-virgin
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts toasted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes optional


  • Preheat a frying pan until hot and cook the pine nuts for 1-2 minutes until browned slightly, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Place all ingredients in a blender or a food processor and puree until smooth and well combined.


You can use the same recipe with other herbs or a combination of herbs such as parsley, rocket, wild mustard, carrot tops, coriander, mint and dill.
Nutritional information is based on a serving of 2 tablespoons and this recipe yielding 2 cups of pesto.


Serving: 2 tablespoons | Calories: 92kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 146mg | Potassium: 30mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Keywords: Condiments, Sauces, Pasta Sauce, Basil, Pesto
Tried this recipe?Mention @cookedandloved or tag #cookedandloved
Irena Macri
By Irena Macri

About the author: Hi, I’m Irena Macri. I share delicious recipes that I have cooked and loved. I am a published cookbook author, have been food blogging for over 10 years and have a Diploma in Nutrition. You will find many healthy recipes as well as my favourite comfort food. More about me here | Subscribe to my newsletter and freebies

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Recipe Rating


  1. That looks delicious Irena! I shall certainly be trying this (converting my existing recipe) and I love your suggestions for use over chicken and veggies ….thanks very much for the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    Pesto is my favorite thing to make in the summer when my garden is overflowing with basil, and I often use cashews in place of pine nuts too whenever I run out of them. They’re super expensive here so I always buy them in bulk to help reduce the cost!

  3. Yum, I can practically smell that bunch of basil. I love pesto so much! I haven’t tried adding nutritional yeast to mine but will have to try that the next time I make a batch.

  4. 5 stars
    LOVE love love love this Basil Pesto Sauce ! I can use it literally for anything from salad, dipping sauce, to grilled meat. Perfect everyday sauce !

  5. 5 stars
    I LOVE homemade pesto! There’s just nothing like it during the summer when basil is in season. I love that your version has all of that lemon goodness plus the nutritional yeast, I bet that really helps add that “parmesan” flavor, a nice alternative for those of us who can’t have dairy.

  6. 3 stars
    I love pesto and make it frequently and without cheese. I tried this recipe today and it was good, but too much EVOO made it a bit runny, I did not use the nutritional yeast flakes so maybe that would have made a difference. I did add significantly more roasted walnuts (1/2 cup) as I usually do for the nutty flavor. I did have 3 cups packed basil only 1.5 T lemon juice and no zest. Last time it was too lemony I was told by my husband and friend so I cut back and that was perfect. So I would recommend if you want a thicker version to cut the oil in half.

  7. 4 stars
    My first try at home made pesto and it was easier than i thought! I used a combination of baby spinach, mint and parsley and i added 2 green Thai chillies. Thank you for giving us a substitute for pine nuts which are ridiculously expensive here. My stick blender also did the trick. Thank you SO much for this recipe. If you have ideas for a red pesto, please share.

    1. Ooh, I love all the greens you managed to sneak into your version. Mint and chili sound delicious and would give it a nice kick. Glad you enjoyed it!

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