Unfortunately, most pesto brands have parmesan in them - even if only a small amount. It can be hard to buy a vegan pesto at your local supermarket, so we'd recommend making your own over that. Luckily, there are quite a few vegan pesto brands available online - so check them out if you don't have the time, or inclination, to make your own.
The traditional recipe for pesto calls for: basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. To make pesto vegan, you would simply omit the cheese, but to match it even more closely you can add other ingredients such as nutritional yeast (for cheesiness) and cashews (for the extra fat content). In the blogosphere, many people have added other greens to their pesto such as kale to get the additional boost of nutrients.
In our opinion pesto is one of the best sauces of all time. You can add it to just about any boring dish to make it a thousand times better. There's something about that heavy Italian flavor that turns a bland meal into a a memorable one. It's also great on just about anything: veggies, pasta, tofu, tempeh, bread - pretty much any savory dish you can think of - pesto can make it better!
We found many vegan pesto brands available online and it seemed like many of them were made outside of the US. That being said, you're unlikely to find these pesto brands in your local supermarket if you live in the states.
Click any of the links below to check these vegan pestos out on Amazon.
Also please note that ingredient statements can always change so be sure to give a double check before ordering.
The first brand is Biona Organic, and they offer a Green Pesto with Pine Kernels. This pesto is similar in taste to tradtionally-made pesto, but is made with all-organic, ethically-sourced ingredients.
Zest has a pesto made with brazil nuts, cashew nuts, and hazelnuts, which actually has the word ‘vegan’ in its name – so you know that if the name changes, you should watch out! Their Vegan Basil Pesto is a classic tasting pesto, perfect for if you’ve been missing the traditional parmesan version.
Organico is, like its name suggests, an organic brand that’s made with all-vegan ingredients. Their Vegan Pesto replaces parmesan cheese with tofu and uses cashew nuts and walnuts instead of pine nuts. Because of this, it’s a slightly fancier pesto than standard – great for if you like to try new things.
This classic Italian-style Green Pesto is made without dairy and nuts to make it accessible to everyone. If, for you, pesto without nuts isn’t pesto, then this is unlikely to be the one for you. But if you’re into a lighter sauce, this is a great pick.
Amore offers a very classic-style pesto in terms of taste, but unusual in terms of presentation; while their Pesto Paste is made with all the same ingredients as a regular pesto but without the cheese, it’s a smoother consistency, and comes packaged in a tube. It’s supposed to have a more intense flavor than normally-made pesto, and therefore should be used sparingly.
Sacla is one of the most popular vegan pestos on the market. Their Free From Basil Pesto is gluten free, dairy free, and wheat free, which makes it great for those with Celiac. Like the Organico product, this pesto replaces parmesan with tofu. It also adds both cashews and, unusually, potato flakes.
The only ingredient that prevents normal pesto from being vegan is parmesan - and, sadly, it's found in almost every recipe (despite it having very little impact on flavor - trust me, I've had both in my non-vegan days). Because it's such a ubiquitous part of commercial pesto, it's surprisingly tricky to find pesto without it. Luckily, that's the only thing you ever really need to look out for.
Unfortunately, finding non-dairy pesto is somewhat difficult. It's likely that your local health food store, Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods will have a small brand that will explicitly say it's vegan, or an accidentally-vegan option that won't be properly advertised as vegan. Honestly, it's much easier to make your own pesto than to attempt to find it in supermarkets.
We couldn't even find store locators for the brands listed above which hinted to us that they aren't many widely distributed vegan pesto brands at this time.
If you want to make your own using only a few ingredients, check out this recipe by Minimalist Baker. All of the ingredients in the recipe should be easy enough to source locally and it only takes around 5 minutes to prepare.
Hey! I'm Michelle and I write product reviews for ThriveCuisine.com. I'm always preparing healthy / plant based foods and I've developed a knack for helping people get the best bang for their buck.