This Thai basil pesto is a flavourful twist on traditional pesto, with a delicious aniseed flavour. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner of pesto pasta, it's a vegan and nut free pesto that is packed with flavour and comes together in just ten minutes.
Pesto is always a crowd-pleaser, or in my family at least. The kids always wolf it down at record speed. Whether it's for dishes such as my coriander pesto pasta, or to use as a topping as with my pesto chicken tray bake and baked cod with pesto, it's the most versatile little condiment!
For more pesto options, you may like to see my macadamia nut pesto and my pistachio pesto. Both twists on the regular kind made with pine nuts and cheese, and more suitable for a vegan or low histamine diet.
This Thai basil pesto has a different flavour to those using regular basil, with a tasty aniseed, almost spicy, flavour that is just so good. There's only one store near me that sells it, and I'm always making sure to stock up! We use a little ginger in the pesto to complement the Thai-style flavours. It's such a treat and so easy to make.
⭐ Why this recipe is so good
Aniseed flavour. With it's distinctive taste, this gives such a different flavour to regular sweet basil. It's rich and deep, and a little more savoury.
Versatile. Use this pesto for Thai style noodles, pesto pasta, as a spread for sandwiches or to stir through a salad.
Quick and easy to make. With just a little time to toast the pumpkin seeds, all you then do is whizz up the pesto in a blender and you're done!
Vegan and nut free pesto. We do some swaps for this Thai basil pesto to keep it suitable for more dietary requirements.
All the ingredients and their quantities are set out in the recipe card below.
A few pointers on a couple of them:
- Thai basil leaves - these are quite distinctive, with a more pointy shape and a little thicker than regular basil. They are more tricky to track down, so check specialist food stores if your supermarket doesn't stock them. As always, choose fresh leaves that aren't discoloured (or going slimy!).
- Pumpkin seeds - you want regular raw pumpkin seeds rather than those that have been salted or roasted.
- Olive oil - I suggest using a good quality extra virgin olive oil as it has such a better flavour, and health benefits too!
- Ginger - use fresh ginger root rather than ginger powder.
📖 Variations to the recipe
Swap apple cider vinegar for lemon or lime juice. If it is suitable for you, then lime juice would enhance the Thai flavours.
Adjust garlic to taste preference. Whether it's one clove or two, or maybe none at all, it's up to you!
Swap pumpkin seeds for peanuts. This wouldn't be suitable for my low histamine readers, and would mean the pesto wasn't nut free, but if peanuts work for you then they are a good swap for the base of a pesto.
🔪 Step by step instructions
Making this Thai basil pesto requires just a few steps and very little time!
Dry toast the pumpkin seeds. Simply add the pumpkin seeds to a skillet, without any oil. Toast on a low heat for 4-5 minutes until they start to turn very slightly brown and they may begin to pop (image 1). Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Remove any woody stems from the basil. You may not need to do this, but if any of the stems are particularly tough you may wish to remove them (image 2)
Recipe tip: move the pumpkin seeds around occasionally with a wooden spoon when toasting for an even cook and so they don't burn.
Step 3 & 4
Add all the ingredients to a blender cup (image 3), and blend to a thick pesto (image 4). Have a taste test and adjust to preference.
💭 Recipe tips
- Dry toast the pumpkin seeds, without using any oil. Move them around occasionally to help prevent burning and so they toast evenly.
- Adjust the texture of the pesto to preference. Adding a little more oil or a touch of water will thin the pesto. More pumpkin seeds will thicken it.
- You may need to scrape the sides of the blender down a few times.
📋 Frequently asked questions
Thai basil has a fairly savoury taste, with hints of spice and aniseed.
Thai basil pesto is delicious for making pesto pasta, to use as a crust for meat or fish dishes, a spread for sandwiches or you can add a spoonful to salad dressings.
You can swap for other nuts and seeds that are suitable for you. Other ideas are cashews, peanuts or almonds. These may not be suitable for people on a low histamine diet, or who have particular food sensitivities.
⏲️ Freezing guidance
This pesto can easily be frozen. Add to an ice cube tray or spoon into small containers for individual portions. If heating (if using for pesto pasta for example), you may need to add a touch of water.
🍽 More tasty pesto recipes
Thai Basil Pesto
- Dry toast the pumpkin seeds in a skillet (without oil) for 4-5 minutes until they start to slightly brown and pop. Set aside to cool.
- if required, remove any particularly woody stems from the Thai basil.
- Add all the ingredients to your blender and blend to make the pesto. Scrape down the sides of the blender as needed, and add more oil to taste and texture preference.
- Dry toast the pumpkin seeds. Simply add to a skillet without any oil, and move around to prevent burning.
- Adjust the taste and texture with more olive oil or a touch of water to preference.
- You may need to scrape the sides of the blender down a few times when blending the pesto.
- If lemon or lime juice if suitable for you, this can be used in place of the vinegar.
- Please note that nutritional information is offered as a courtesy. It is auto-generated and should be understood to be an estimate.
- Thai basil is not rated on the SIGHI list. Sweet basil scores 0. Only use if you know you tolerate well.
- Garlic, which scores 1.
- Ginger, which scores 1.
- Apple cider vinegar, which scores 1.