Is pesto vegan?

Is pesto sauce considered to be vegan?

Pesto can be used to top home-cooked pasta, but also as a dipping sauce, as salad dressing, sandwich spread, and even to fill up burritos. But is it vegan? Let's find out!

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Is pesto sauce vegan?

Traditional pesto is made with garlic, basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan. So the typical pesto you know is not vegan.

However, many companies also produce vegan pesto by replacing parmesan with yeast. Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that vegans often use to give their dishes a cheesy flavor without dairy.

Is all pesto made the same way?

The word “pesto” is nowadays used to refer to a whole range of different sauces.

These sauces often don’t include basil. Although a green herb is usually substituted, they often use a nut other than pine – or don’t have nuts at all – and may well not contain cheese. In other words, if you see pesto on a menu or are serving it at someone’s house, it is worth checking whether or not they are actually using one that contains cheese.

How to make vegan pesto?

While a standard recipe for pesto might include cheese, it’s not at all necessary. Here are a couple of suggestions for cheese substitutes that more or less perform the same function as their dairy counterpart:

Additional salt and oil

The simplest way to make a vegan pesto – alla Genovese – is simply to miss out on the cheese entirely. If you do this for yourself or for a vegan guest, you will probably need to add a little more salt than usual, with part of the cheese’s role is to act as a seasoning and perhaps a little more oil.

Alternatively, adding a little yeast is an excellent way to reproduce some of the cheese’s flavor.

Vegan cheese

Another option is to use vegan cheese. Vegan parmesan, either shop-bought or homemade using cashew nuts, will add a similar texture and tang.

Homemade vegan pesto recipe

Here’s how to make vegan homemade pasta within 10 minutes:

You’ll need:

Mix everything together, and you’ve got a perfect homemade vegan pasta that lasts at least 5 days.

It’s best served with pasta, but you can also serve it with bread, pizza, or even a salad dressing!

Last updated on June 9, 2021, and last reviewed by an expert on January 25, 2021.
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