This dairy-free basil and pumpkin seed pesto is a little twist on the traditional version, but with no less taste! It swaps out pine nuts for pumpkin seeds and leaves out the cheese for a fun vegan pumpkin seed pesto.
Pesto is always packed with flavour, and such a go-to for an easy weeknight dinner of pesto pasta. But some pesto may not always be suitable if you are dairy-free or vegan, or have to be nut free.
This pumpkin seed pesto is dairy-free (and vegan) as well as being nut free. It uses toasted pumpkin seeds in place of nuts, and is full of flavour with fresh basil, garlic and a touch of apple cider vinegar. Super easy to make as well!
This post was updated with new photos and slight amendments to the recipe on 18 April 2022.
Why this pesto is so good
Pesto pasta was my jam all through college, so I wish I had made this dairy-free pesto back then! In fact, it was probably my most eaten meal. I think you will love this recipe because:
- Flavourful: the basil, garlic and pumpkin seeds give such a hit of flavour.
- Dairy-free pesto: it doesn't include cheese making this a vegan pesto.
- Nut free pesto: we use pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts, so it should be suitable for those who are not able to eat nuts.
This recipe uses a lot of my go-to store cupboard ingredients. Some notes about them:
- Pumpkin seeds: used in place of pine nuts, be sure to use unsalted ones!
- Basil: the beautiful summer herb that has the flavour of Italy. Use fresh basil leaves without bruising or discolouration.
- Garlic: use one or two cloves, to taste preference.
- Extra virgin olive oil: use extra virgin rather than regular oive oil for a richer taste.
- Apple cider vinegar: my go-to is always Aspall apple cyder vinegar as it is organic and has won taste awards as well! If you are low histamine and cannot tolerate, then simply leave it out.
Variations on the recipe
If you prefer, you can add in some parsley or cilantro to the pesto in addition to the basil to change up the flavour.
For those who can use lemon juice, then this can be used in place of the vinegar.
Step by step instructions
It is so very easy to make pesto, and this version is no exception!
Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan (without any oil) until they warm, slightly brown and they may start to pop (image 1). Set aside to cool.
Add all the ingredients to a blender (image 2).
Blend the ingredients to make your pesto (images 3 & 4). You may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the blender a few times. Adjust with more olive oil if required, both to taste preference and to texture preference as well.
Frequently asked questions
Regular pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) are fine to make pesto. You want ones that are unsalted and that haven't already been roasted.
You can add more olive oil and/or apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) to thin a pesto. Give it a taste though, so you keep the flavour you like.
To make homemade vegan pesto you will need:
Food processor - to blend the pesto. You can also use something like a NutriBullet.
Frying pan - to dry toast the pumpkin seeds before blending them.
Wooden spoon - you will likely need to scrape down the sides of you blender, using a spoon.
More pesto recipes to enjoy
Pesto is always popular here on the site! From pesto options such as my vegan pistachio pesto to ways to use them such as my coriander pesto pasta, they are such a favourite. Some recent recipes to try out:
Dairy-free basil and pumpkin seed pesto
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- ½ cup basil (fresh) tightly packed
- 1-2 cloves garlic adjust quantity to taste
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil add more for a looser pesto, to preference
- to taste salt
- Lightly toast the pumpkin seeds for 3-4 minutes on a low heat until they start to brown and pop. Once toasted, set aside on some kitchen towel.
- Once the pumpkin seeds have cooled, add all the ingredients to the food processor and blend. You may need to scrape the sides down a few times so the mixture combines well.
- If you prefer a looser pesto, then add more olive oil or water to your preference.
- If you prefer not to use basil, you can always try coriander / cilantro and add a little parsley too.
- Adjust the amount of garlic to taste preference.
- For those on a low histamine diet, you may prefer to leave out the apple cider vinegar if you are unable to tolerate it.