Dairy-Free Nut-Free Basil Pesto is the Best-o

Dairy Free Nut Free Pesto

I remember my first taste of pesto. It was a warm summer night on an island off the coast of Maine after I had just completed the 8th grade. My mom and I were on an epic, two week road trip along the East coast with my maternal grandmother.

There are a few memorable moments seared in my brain from that trip. Like when my grandmother told my mother that I was ungrateful after leaving my used towels strewn about the bathroom floor in our hotel room (oops! still feel bad about that!). Or when I had my first (and only!) lucid dream while napping in our rental house on Cape Cod as my mom attended a conference presented by Will Schutz (my cat’s name happened to be Schutz!)

Most of all, I remember trying pesto for the first time. We were having dinner at an old friend’s of my mom’s summer house and it first hit my olfactory senses as they were cooking dinner in the kitchen. I will never forget the feeling that strong basil aroma left in me and, to this day, whenever I smell that piquant herb it brings me back to that very moment in my life. Our hosts had prepared a lovely dish of pesto pasta and I remember the taste being just as remarkable, though surprisingly not as strong as the scent.

After that amazing night with pesto it wasn’t until years later when I was in college that I finally encountered it again. And ever since I’ve not let this heavenly dish go.


What’s remarkable is that I’ve found you don’t need to add much to pesto to create an amazing condiment. In fact, I think that the less you add, the stronger the basil flavor. Some foods play well with each other and can actually enhance the strength of each other’s flavor, but neither cheese nor nuts do that for basil.  I discovered this when I went vegan and started to omit the cheese. Also, at that time I was making my pesto with almonds because Alex is allergic to pine nuts. Soon after I tried it sans nuts entirely and found that I liked it even better. So here you have the only other players in addition to basil in this amazing pesto—lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic.

Pesto Ingredients

So few ingredients makes for a very fast meal. Throw them all in your food processor and blend away. I like using my mini processor for pesto since all of those fluffy basil leaves are reduced to this as soon as you turn on the motor.

Dairy Free Nut Free Pesto

Yes, all of that basil only produced this much pesto. It makes buying a few basil plants a worthy addition to your home garden.

Dairy Free Nut Free Pesto

A very easy way to enjoy pesto (besides pasta) is by toasting baguette slices in the oven…

and then smearing the besto pesto on them…

and then topping them with slices of fresh tomato.

Dairy Free Nut Free Pesto Toast with Tomato

Dairy-Free Nut-Free Basil Pesto


  • 4 cups fresh basil or one bunch, rinsed and trimmed
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • water (if necessary to thin it out if you don’t want to use more oil)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Puree: Blend all ingredients in your food processor until it’s completely pureed.
Also, the amounts mentioned above are general guidelines, but you can always make your own additions and subtractions. Perhaps you want a super garlicky pesto then go ahead and throw in several cloves of garlic. Or maybe you enjoy a stronger lemon flavor then go ahead and squeeze the juice of an entire lemon into the processor. Use more or less olive oil to adjust the consistency. It’s totally customizable to what you’re feeling at that moment.

Dairy Free Nut Free Pesto

35 Responses to Dairy-Free Nut-Free Basil Pesto is the Best-o

  1. Anni says:

    It all looks so good and thanks for the memories of our East Coast trip.
    love your mom Anni

  2. Chris says:

    Looks great. I don’t like cheese either, maybe I’ll try it this weekend without nuts.

  3. Kathy says:

    Christina, you take the BEST food pictures. I am drooling with the magnificence of this color green. Smiling at your memories…how convoluted things can get…and yet this pesto recipe can arrive out of it. Thank you.

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  6. Elisa's Spot says:

    OMG YAY! Non allergenic basil pesto! Hops up and down must get dressed and locate more basil!

  7. dzuli says:

    Fantastic recipe!! 🙂

  8. Deirdre says:

    Looks wonderful and I have a bounty of basil right now—any idea how this freezes?

    • Christina says:

      Hi Deirdre! I’m so envious of your basil bounty. Living in an apartment in San Francisco without an outdoor space has left me herb-garden-less for over 8 years 😦 So while I haven’t been so lucky to have enough basil that I’d need to freeze this pesto, I am almost certain that it will freeze great. You can always test it with a small batch and then freeze the rest if all goes well, but again, I can’t see why this wouldn’t freeze perfectly so I’d say go for it! 🙂

  9. Michelle says:

    i ready elsewhere an idea to slip some into an icecube tray and freeze, once frozen pop them into a zip lock and keep in the feeezer, to use the basil cubes whenever you need them 🙂

  10. Ruth Renwick says:

    Lovely photos and story and I am about to make another batch for the freezer..didnt know you dont need the nuts or cheese and my cousin’s wife, Italian told me to drizzle olive oil in while pulsing the basil and (home grown) garlic and some parsley to cut the sharpness..its great and I sometimes mix in a little tomato pasta sauce too..love it with spaghetti squash. thanks

    • Christina says:

      Thanks for the comment, Ruth! I love hearing from others who are pesto lovers like me and, especially, those who enjoy it with the few ingredients that it needs 🙂 I’ve actually never tried it with spaghetti squash before — thanks for the idea!!

  11. Rita says:

    It’s a really good substitute for pizza sauce.

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  16. Sheila says:

    Hello Christina!, I would like to share here another variety of non-allergenic pesto that i have found, it is super delicious and nutritious! I thought everyone should try this especially me..thanks for sharing these to us!


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  21. Denise says:

    This looks amazing! Thank you thank you thank you – been looking for a yummy spaghetti squash topper. You just saved dinner!

  22. misschief101 says:

    Reblogged this on Easy Recipes and commented:
    I’ve been wondering about those 2 most expensive ingredients. Now anyone’s tummy can smile 🙂

  23. Jane MacLennan-Zeitlin says:

    This has proven to be an excellent pesto. I made a good quantity and froze into individual 1-serving pots. It was very popular with everyone including those without allergies. The pots defrosted rapidly and have been a great culinary aid.

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