With an abundance of fragrant basil, there is nothing better than whipping up a quick batch of nut free pesto. My homemade pesto recipe freezes well and enhances the flavor of everything from sauces to dips, dressings, egg dishes, and more. This easy recipe is perfect for anyone with nut allergies. It is also low carb, keto, gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, and Trim Healthy Mama friendly.
Basil is my favorite thing to grow in my garden in the summer. It is fairly easy to grow and delicious in so many preparations. I love to nibble on a leaf while gardening, use it in salads, and even stick a sprig into my water bottle.
As the summer winds down I always take any basil that is still growing and make it into pesto to enjoy in the winter months. My nut free pesto recipe is perfect to use up your summer bounty.
If you don't garden simply buy a couple of bunches at the store and you can also have delicious homemade pesto! My basil pesto recipe without nuts is the best thing you can pull out of the freezer come February and March.
How to Make Nut Free Pesto
When I stumbled upon a huge bag of roasted, salted sunflower seeds on sale at Costco last month I immediately thought to use them in pesto. They are much cheaper than pine nuts and with a nut allergy in my house, only a few types of nuts are allowed to enter.
I didn't miss the pignoli nuts in this pesto. The flavor of the basil and cheese shine through and I encourage you to use a good hard cheese in this and not the green shaker kind. I'm not opposed to those but in this nut free pesto sauce recipe, you can taste the difference. Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese both work well.
The Easiest Way to Make Pesto Nut Free
Something I don't suggest is packing all the ingredients into the blending cup of a small rocket type blender (despite my photos). I had to stop it and mix it frequently. It didn't have enough liquid or enough room to really chop everything easily. Using a standard small food processor would've saved some time and aggravation.
What type of oil should I use for pesto?
Traditionally, extra virgin olive oil is used for fresh basil pesto but any type of mild flavor oil may be used instead. Avocado oil works very well in this pine nut free pesto recipe.
More Types of Pesto
Spinach Pesto - Just sub in spinach in place of the basil.
Sun-dried Tomato Pesto - Use sundried tomatoes (soak them first in hot water) in place of, or in addition to, the fresh basil leaves.
Kale Pesto - Swap out the basil for kale.
Parsley Pesto - Again, just switch the basil for parsley.
Vegan Pesto - Swap in nutritional yeast for the cheese.
Lemon Pesto - Add in some lemon juice or lemon zest.
See a pattern here? You can keep the sunflower seeds and oil and change out the other ingredients and still get a delicious pesto recipe!
If you don't need a nut-free pesto and simply want to sub out the pine nuts try this Walnut Pesto.
Can I freeze pesto?
Absolutely! Pesto freezes very well. I like to freeze it in an ice cube tray. Once it is solid you can pop the cubes out of the ice cube trays and transfer them to a freezer storage bag. Make sure to squeeze as much air out of the pesto without nuts as possible to avoid freezer burn. Pesto can be frozen up to 6 months.
How can I use nut free pesto?
Pesto works great as a marinade for grilled meats and veggies, as a base for creamy dips and salad dressings, as a condiment for burgers and in recipes. Make a classic pesto pasta by tossing this with zucchini noodles or hearts of palm noodles.
- 1 cup fresh basil , packed
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- ¼ cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
- Combine the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for up to 6 months.
Originally Published September 26, 2017. Revised and Republished April 17, 2020.