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Vegan Cashew Pesto

  • Author: Liz Madsen
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Diet: Vegan


This bright, fresh, and flavorful Vegan Cashew Pesto is the perfect addition to pasta, toast, crackers, potatoes and much more!


  • 2 cups fresh basil, woody stems discarded
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach (see note 1)
  • 1 cup raw cashews or sunflower seeds (see note 2)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast (see note 3)
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • Juice of a small lemon (about 1 tablespoon lemon juice)


  1. Mix: Add everything except the lemon juice to the food processor and process until it’s well combined. A blender works, but can totally puree it… It’s nice to retain some of the texture of the chopped nuts here.
  2. Add lemon and adjust: Scrape down the sides with a spatula and add the lemon juice. Process once again and taste. Adjust if needed.
  3. Serve: Serve how you like. It’s great on toast or crackers or as a sandwich spread as is.
  4. If putting on pasta: Save some of the starchy pasta cooking water and stir it into the pesto, a tablespoon at a time. Mix into hot cooked pasta and enjoy!
  5. Store: Refrigerate the leftover vegan cashew pesto in an airtight container like a jar for up to a week in the fridge.


  • Note 1: Doesn’t taste like anything and gives us more volume + nutrients. Non baby spinach is fine. Can also use another green like kale.
  • Note 2: Roasted/Salted are OK but the texture is MUCH better with a raw cashew. If you use salted cashews, I’d leave out the salt in the recipe--only add some if needed. Substitute for cashews: raw sunflower seeds, pine nuts, tofu, white beans, or defrosted frozen peas. Avocado would work too, but there wouldn’t be much texture, if you care.
  • Note 3: Add less if you don’t like the taste, but it really doesn’t dominate at all. Truly replaces the Parmesan cheese quite nicely. Don’t like nutritional yeast at all and don’t want it in your life? Try adding a bit of my vegan cotija cheese, or just use some onion and garlic powder and you’ll be fine.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Entree, Dips
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American, Italian

Keywords: Vegan, Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, Can Be Nut-Free, Vegan Cashew Pesto, Cashew Pesto