This vegan creamy pesto sauce is so delicious that you might want to pour it on just about anything! And it's so easy to make: everything goes in the blender and the sauce is ready within minutes. It is so perfect poured over pasta, rice/buddha bowls or used as a creamy salad dressing.
I was simply going to make a quick pesto and then I lost track of my initial plan and I blended the whole thing. The results was a creamy, thick, zesty and extra fresh bright green mixture, yum! It was so good that I had to share it with you guys!
And I have to say, it really tastes just like regular pesto, only in a silky consistency. This recipe is also a dairy-free pesto, meaning there is no parmesan cheese. But, you won't miss it at all! Just like in this vegan white queso or this vegan ricotta cheese, the combination of cashews with nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt is really doing a great job at reproducing a cheesy flavor.
So, no cheese needed, but filled with lots of nutrient dense ingredients. That bright green beautiful color is not only the result of blended fresh basil, but also comes from lots of baby spinach. And you won't even realized it's there!
This healthy green sauce was basically a delicious kitchen accident, but is now one of my favorite sauces to prepare. I make an avocado ranch dressing when I feel like a vinegary and garlicky mixture of herbs. But, this creamy pesto sauce is what I go for when I need a smooth and fresh sauce. It really adds tons of flavors and an eye catching color to so many dishes, from pasta, buddha bowls or even as a dipping sauce.
Why you will love this healthy herb sauce
- So quick and simple
- Versatile and easy to customize
- Cheesy, garlicky and zesty... SO flavorful
- Gluten-free, dairy-free and very healthy
- Incredibly creamy and rich
...This is the BEST plant-based sauce to pour on any Italian dishes!
Ingredients you will need to make this vegan creamy pesto sauce:
- Fresh basil: This fresh herb is the star of this dressing and is leading the taste with its unique flavor.
- Baby spinach: This is the secret ingredients that helps reach a super bright green color and adds extra nutrients to the sauce.
- Nutritional yeast: For the cheesy flavor that replaces the parmesan cheese seen traditional pesto sauces.
- Cashews: This oil free pesto sauce used cashews to create a super rich texture
- Lemon: Ingredient behind the tanginess that's essential for a boost of flavor.
- Garlic: Crucial to brighten up all the sauce.
- Salt: For flavor, add more or less to taste.
How to make a vegan creamy pesto sauce
- Prepare the cashews: either soak in cold water overnight or in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Then rinse and drain.
- Blend: Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until super creamy. Take a few breaks to scrape the walls and make sure all the cashew pieces are crushed. If you don't have a high speed blender, then you might have to blend for a little longer (1-2 min) to reach a super smooth texture.
Can I make this vegan pesto sauce nut-free?
Yes! You can swap the cashews for sunflower seeds (same amount, no need for soaking sunflower seeds). Cashews are fairly tasteless compared to sunflower seeds, so you might have to adjust the flavor by adding more or less of salt and other ingredient as needed. Also, using sunflower seeds might turn your pesto sauce greyish slightly.
How to use this vegan creamy pesto sauce
This recipe is a great savory green sauce that can be added to so many dishes! Perfect for Sunday meal-prep to use over a busy week.
- Rice/Buddha bowl topping: Simply combine this creamy dressing with brown rice, beans and vegetables.
- Sauce for sandwiches or burger: You can make this sauce a little thicker so you can use it in burgers or sandwiches. To do this, add all the ingredients to the blender except for the water and add just enough to get the blades started. Add a few tbsp at the time until you reached desired consistency. Combines well with roasted tofu or vegetable sandwiches and bean burgers.
- Vinaigrette for salads: This sauce makes for a perfect oil free vinaigrette. I find this vinaigrette to work better with crisp lettuce like romaine. Or, simple slices of tomatoes with a drizzle of this sauce makes for a delicious light appetizer.
- Dressing for roasted vegetables: Pour this sauce over roasted vegetables to brighten them up.
- Pasta or Pizza sauce: Use this creamy pesto-like sauce for simple pasta dishes or use over pizza instead of the tomato sauce for a fun change!
Customize this sauce to your taste
You can easily swap some of the ingredients to make your own version!
Basil is widely available during summer, but in the winter, make this sauce by replacing the basil with more spinach. It won't taste like a pesto sauce anymore, but the other ingredients will keep this sauce very flavorful.
You can also swap the basil with different fresh herbs, like parsley, dill or cilantro.
If you like spicy food, add some fresh jalapeño to the blender.
Keep the sauce in a air-tight container for up to 5 days. Give it a good whisk before using (I like to store in mason jar kind of container so I can just shake before using).
Other creamy sauces you might like:
- Vegan white Queso
- Peanut butter sauce
- Pasta al pesto
- Vegan Tzatziki
- Vegan bechamel
- Vegan walnut pesto
- Tahini-pesto (in this vegan couscous salad)
I hope you will love creamy pesto sauce as much as I do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was.
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Vegan Creamy Pesto Sauce
- ⅔ cup raw cashew
- 2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 medium size clove of garlic
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1- 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
- ¾ cup water
- ¾ tsp salt - or to taste
- Boil the cashews in water for about 10 minutes. This will help reach a very smooth sauce. Drain.
- Transfer the cashews with all the other ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Pour over warm pasta, eat cold as a salad or vegetable dressing or spread in sandwiches.
- Keep in a air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
I have basil on my grocery list today! Can't wait to try this dressing!
Oh great Nancy, hope you like it! 🙂