This easy vegan pesto sauce with avocado is a delicious and healthier alternative to traditional pesto. It's creamy, flavorful, and perfect to use in so many ways including with pastas, potatoes, salads and more. Plus, it's oil-free!
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What is Vegan Avocado Pesto Sauce?
It is a pesto sauce made with avocado rather than oil and is a dairy-free as no parmesan cheese has been included as per a traditional pesto sauce.
It's made with fresh basil, ripe avocado, nutritional yeast, pine nuts, lemon juice, and salt.
This recipe is a great alternative to traditional pesto as it is creamy, flavorful, and a healthier option for any meal.
Why You'll Love this Recipe
- Versatile - This vegan pesto sauce can be used in a variety of ways, see serving suggestions below
- Creamy and flavorful - The combination of ripe avocado, fresh basil, and nutritional yeast creates a delicious sauce that will leave you wanting more.
- Healthy - This recipe is oil-free and full of plant-based ingredients that are healthy and nourishing for your body.
- Very quick, ready in minutes.
- Accommodates special diets - vegan, oil-free, dairy-free, gluten-free diet, corn free and soy free.
Ingredients You'll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
A large ripe avocado (roughly about 285g or 10 ounces) Choosing the right avocado is crucial for making the best vegan pesto sauce.
Tips for Selecting the Perfect Avocado
- Look for a ripe avocado - it should be slightly soft to the touch but not too mushy. Gently press with your thumb whilst holding the avocado to check its ripeness. If it feels too soft or too hard, it may not be ripe enough for this recipe.
- Check the color - A ripe avocado should have a dark green to black color. If the avocado is too green, it may not be ripe enough, while if it's too dark, it may be overripe. Avoid avocadoes with brown patches.
- Check the stem - The stem of the avocado can give you a clue about its ripeness. If the stem is difficult to remove or doesn't come off easily, the avocado may not be ripe enough. If the stem comes off too easily, it may be overripe.
Fresh basil leaves are the best in this recipe. I have a surplus of Italian basil and sweet basil in my garden which I sometimes like to combine together to make this sauce. Use your preferred basil leaves, see FAQ's below for how to clean them.
Nutritional yeast is a vegan favorite for mimicking cheese flavoring. This ingredient can be found at your local supermarket, health food store or purchased online here (affiliate link)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice will help brighten up the flavoring and give some acidity to this sauce.
Pine nuts are synonymous with pesto sauce. It is the nutty component of this sauce, a little goes a long way.
Salt will bring and bolster all the ingredient flavorings. I love using either Himalayan salt or Celtic salt (affiliate links) for the added minerals and health benefits.
Water is needed to help create a smooth and creamy consistency that helps this sauce be applied to pasta or salad dishes. Feel free to add or reduce the amount, depending on how you will use this sauce. I have found 2 tablespoons to be perfect for most applications.
Try adding a clove of garlic to this sauce for more of savory notes.
Add any type of chili, be it fresh or dry for a spicy kick.
Tip: the ingredients within this recipe can be adjusted to suit your liking. Feel free to experiment with the quantities. I have found the amounts listed in the below recipe card to be perfect.
How to Make Vegan Pesto Sauce with Avocado
- In a food processor, add all the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Adjust the dressing by doing a taste test. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave out the water.
- Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
Toss this avocado pesto sauce with cooked pasta for a quick and easy meal. Try it as the dressing for this vegan pasta salad.
Use as a dip for veggies or crackers. Check out these gluten free crackers.
Drizzle over roasted vegetables for added flavor.
Use as a salad dressing.
My personal favorite - serve with cool steamed or boiled potatoes! Oh my, the taste is phenomenal.
The sky is the limit with how you can use this sauce.
Yes, whilst I recommend nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavor of this recipe, you can substitute it with grated vegan Parmesan cheese if you prefer.
A blender can work, but a food processor is the best option for this recipe as it creates a creamier texture. You will need to scrape down the sides a couple of times to ensure all the ingredients have been blended.
Yes, you can use any type of nut you prefer, such as walnuts or cashews. Though do note that the flavor of this sauce will change.
Start by filling a bowl with cold water and a spoonful of vinegar.
Place the basil leaves in the bowl and swirl them around gently with your hands to remove any dirt or debris.
After a few seconds, remove the basil leaves from the water and place them on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.
Gently pat the leaves dry with another clean towel, being careful not to crush or damage them.
Alternatively, you can use a salad spinner to dry the leaves quickly and efficiently. (I prefer the salad spinner method.
Once the basil leaves are dry, they are ready to use in the pesto sauce.
If you love avocados as much as I do, then you must try this quick avocado cilantro lime dressing. It can also be used in so many ways.
Other dressings to check out is my vegan miso tahini dressing, my cashew ranch dressing or my vegan bbq ranch dressing.
Or here's a list of vegan salad dressing recipes to bookmark.
Easy Vegan Vegan Pesto Sauce with Avocado
- 1 large Avocado 285g before peeling and de-seeding
- ⅓ cup Nutritional yeast
- 1 cup Fresh basil leaves loosely packed
- 1 tablespoon Lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon Pine nuts heaping
- 2 tablespoons Water or to desired consistency
- ½ teaspoon Salt or to taste
- In a food processor, add all the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. About a minute.
- Adjust the dressing by doing a taste test. If you prefer to adjust the thickness of the sauce, minus or add a tablespoonful of water. See notes for serving suggestions.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.
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