You don’t need nuts to make a delicious fresh basil pesto! Learn how to make this tasty sauce without any pine nuts and without sacrificing flavor.
Fresh pesto is one of my favorite things to add to meals, especially in the summer. This simple sauce adds loads of flavor and a vibrant green color to a variety of dishes.
While I love the traditional pesto recipe, sometimes I need a nut-free option. This easy recipe for nut-free pesto is my go-to for a delicious, flavorful sauce without the pine nuts.
How to Make Pesto without Pine Nuts
Traditional pesto is made with pine nuts, which are small, edible seeds of various pine tree varieties. If you are avoiding pine nuts for any reason, most store-bought pesto sauces may not be suitable for you to eat. The good news is you can make this delicious sauce at home without any pine nuts!
Making homemade nut-free pesto is incredibly easy by skipping the pine nuts or substituting a delicious seed. Whether you have an allergy or you’re avoiding pine nuts for another reason, you can enjoy fresh basil pesto made at home in just a few minutes.
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There are a few reasons that you may need to make nut-free pesto. The most common reason, of course, is a tree nut allergy. Pine nuts are tolerated by those with nut allergies more than other nuts, but everyone is different. If you (or a loved one) can’t eat pine nuts, you can still enjoy the delight of freshly made pesto!
You may also want to skip the pine nuts because they are expensive or hard to find in your area. Or perhaps you don’t have any in the pantry and don’t want to make a grocery store run. Regardless of the reason for avoiding pine nuts, nut-free pesto is easy and delicious!
Nut Alternatives for Pesto
There are several options to substitute for pine nuts in pesto that are tree nut allergy-friendly. Nut-free pesto can be made by simply omitting the pine nuts, but if you enjoy the nutty flavor that the pine nuts typically add, try one of these instead:
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Sesame seeds
How to Freeze Nut-Free Pesto
If you have a surplus of basil and want a way to preserve it for the winter months, freezer basil pesto is the best way to do that!
Once you make your pesto, spoon it into ice cube trays and freeze them for a few hours. Once the pesto is frozen solid, transfer the frozen cubes to an airtight container such as a freezer bag or a mason jar. The pesto will stay fresh in the freezer for about a year if the container is properly sealed.
When you’re ready to use some pesto, remove the amount you need and thaw it at room temperature for 4-6 hours, or until completely thawed. Alternatively, you can pop it in the microwave and thaw it on the defrost setting. Frozen pesto tastes nearly as good as fresh pesto once it has been thawed!
Uses for Nut-Free Pesto
Pesto is such a versatile sauce and it makes almost everything taste so much better! Here are just a few of my favorite ways to use fresh basil pesto:
- Pasta dishes such as orzo pasta salad or one-pot sundried tomato pesto pasta
- Paninis and grilled cheese sandwiches
- Flavorful homemade salad dressing
- Drizzle onto avocado toast
- On top of a baked potato
- Tossed with roasted veggies such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this nut-free pesto dairy-free?
Yes! Hard cheese such as parmesan or pecorino romano is part of traditional basil pesto, but it still tastes good without it. I like to substitute the cheese with vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast or just omit the cheese altogether.
Why is my pesto browning in the fridge?
As pesto is exposed to air, the oxidation causes the basil to brown. If you aren’t going to eat your pesto right away or you have leftovers, drizzle a thin layer of water or olive oil on top of the pesto to block out the air and maintain that bright green color.