This fresh and flavorful Basil pesto is nut free, dairy free and made with 3 simple ingredients. Its easily prepared in under 5 minutes and can be spread on pizza or bread, tossed in pasta or even as a dip.
Despite its simplicity, this 3-ingredient recipe for basil pesto is incredibly versatile. It has endless options for adding additional flavors and ingredients (also nut and dairy free, included in this post). So use whatever you have in your kitchen or flavor to your taste.
- Tips on Ingredients and substitutes if needed
- How to make Basil Pesto - Nut free, Dairy free, using 3 ingredients - Visual guide only
- Frequently asked questions and tips
If you have an abundance of fresh basil from your garden, pesto is an excellent way to put it to use.
If you don't have a garden, you can find affordable fresh basil at farmers' markets or grocery stores that sell potted basil plants.
Additionally, you can also use frozen basil leaves. If you find yourself with extra basil leaves, simply rinse and dry them before storing them in a freezer bag for future pesto-making.
And If you're interested, I have a great guide detailing the process of growing basil - and have a never ending supply of your own
Tips on Ingredients and substitutes if needed
For the printable recipe card with detailed measurements and instructions, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
- 3 cups fresh Basil leaves, stems removed: Make sure you only use the basil leaves for the pesto, and not the stems. The stems are often tough and have bitter flavors.
- ¼ cup olive oil: Olive oil is the main liquid and helps create a creamy, rich consistency.Use a good quality olive oil as it can significantly affect the flavor of your pesto.
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
Optional ingredients to make it your own
Pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds: These add amazing texture while still keeping your basil pesto free of nuts. Use roasted or as is, it still adds amazing flavor and texture. Plus it's budget friendly and can be found in most supermarkets, grocery or health stores.
Nutritional yeast: If you're looking for a dairy-free alternative to traditional pesto that typically contains parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast is an excellent option.
This dehydrated yeast (no longer active) consists of a flaky yellow powder. It has a cheese-like, nutty, savory flavor, making it a great substitute for those who are lactose intolerant or follow a vegan diet. You can get nutritional yeast at your grocery, health store, or pharmacy. Its inexpensive and a little goes a very long way.
Alternately, any shredded (grated) dairy free cheese will work too.
Dried chilli flakes: Add just a pinch (or to taste) for a little bit of heat, texture and a pop of color.
How to make Basil Pesto - Nut free, Dairy free, using 3 ingredients - Visual guide only
full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions at the end of this post
- Wash and remove stems off basil leaves
- Combine basil, salt and olive oil in a food processor or blender
- Pulse until everything is blended together and relatively creamy.
- Store pesto in a jar or sealable container, tightly seal, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Frequently asked questions and tips
How to Make Basil Pesto without a Food Processor or Blender
Basil pesto can easily be prepared with any one of the following if you do not have a food processor or blender.
Mortar and pestle:
- Place the basil leaves in a mortar and sprinkle salt over them. Use a pestle to pound the basil leaves and salt together until they form a coarse paste.
- Gradually pour the olive oil into the mortar while continuing to pound the basil leaves. Keep pounding until the oil is fully incorporated and the pesto has a smooth, creamy consistency.
Immersion blender (blender stick):
- After washing and separating the basil leaves from stems, place all the ingredients into the jar or bottle that comes with an immersion blender.
- Insert the immersion blender into the container and blend until the ingredients are well combined and the pesto has a smooth consistency. Start at the bottom and move the blender up and down to make sure all the ingredients are blended.
- Taste the pesto and add more salt or olive oil if needed.
How to serve basil pesto
- Spread on pizza
- Use as a spread in your grilled cheese sandwich
- Toss cooked spagetti or pasta in freshly made basil pesto
- As a filling in my No Knead Cheesy Garlic Pesto Rolls
- Use as a dip for with my Easy No Knead French Bread or my 3 ingredient Garlic Breadstick (Yeast-free and no-knead)
How much of Basil pesto will this recipe make
- This recipe is for a small batch of pesto.
- You can easily double or triple all the ingredients for a larger batch if you like.
- A serving size of pesto is usually around 2 tablespoons.
- Using 2 -3 cups of basil leaves will make about ¼ to ½ cup of pesto. Yielding approximately 4 to 8 servings of basil pesto.
Can you freeze basil pesto?
Sure, especially if you are making a bigger batch.
- Can be frozen for up to 2 months.
- You can freeze it in ice cube trays. Once the pesto is frozen, you can remove the portions from the ice cube trays and store them in a larger freezer bag or container.
- Be sure to label the freezer bag or container with the contents and the date so you can keep track of how long the pesto has been frozen.
- Thaw as many portions you require at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
- You can also add the frozen pesto directly to hot pasta or other dishes and let it thaw and warm up in the pan.