Quick and Easy Pesto in a Blender without Dairy

by From Scratch Farmstead
quick and easy pesto in a blender without dairy

Pesto is one of those magical foods that feels very fancy, yet is actually so simple to make. We will show you the easiest method to whip up your own pesto in a blender in no time.

Several years ago, before we had even begun gardening at all, I had a friend invite me over to harvest basil from her garden and teach me to make pesto. It was such a fun experience and I was instantly hooked.

From that point forward, we have always reserved a section of our garden dedicated to growing basil. My goal is always to make enough pesto when the basil is growing strongest in the summer to have frozen for the whole year.

harvesting basil to make pesto

What is Pesto?

Pesto is a vibrant green basil-based sauce with its origins in Genoa, Italy. “Pesto” actually means “to crush” as it was traditionally made by using a mortar and pestle to crush the ingredients into this sauce.

There are many adaptations to the exact ingredients and ratios used in pesto (you can see our preferred recipe below) but the traditional ingredients are basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese.

How Do You Use Pesto?

Pesto is most commonly served on top of pasta. However, there are tons of ways you can you this delicious sauce. 

Some of our favorite ways to serve pesto are as our first sauce layer on our deep-dish pizza, or on any pizza. It also goes great on sandwiches and pairs beautifully with chicken. And occasionally, ill even stir it into some scrambled eggs as a delicious change of pace.

best deep dish cast iron pizza

Pesto in a Blender (and other methods)

While my favorite way to make pesto is in a blender (and I’ll walk you through exactly how to do that below), there are many other possible ways to whip this delicious sauce together.

You could use a mortar and pestle to smash all of the ingredients together to get the real authentic taste and experience of how pesto was traditionally made.

quick and easy pesto in a blender

Another common method to make pesto is using a food processor. This method is done very similarly to the pesto in a blender recipe that I will walk you through below. 

Regardless of which way you go about it, pesto is definitely worth making!

How to Preserve Pesto?

Our favorite way to preserve pesto is by freezing it. In fact, every year we make several batches of pesto to store enough to have all year round. Pesto freezes and thaws beautifully.

To Freeze, we simply pour our finished pesto into silicone muffin cups or cubes and stick in the freezer. Once frozen, we take them out of the silicone molds and put them in a gallon size ziplock bag and store in the freezer.

fresh pesto ready to freeze in silicone molds

The Many Pesto Substitutions

One of the great things about pesto is that it is extremely flexible. While it is typically made with basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese, there are many adaptations that would work as well.

Basil

Most any herb or green could be used in place of pesto either by itself or in combination with pesto. In the past, we’ve made pesto with carrot or fennel greens, cilantro, and kale. Really the options are endless when it comes to what greens you would like to use. But we have always come back to just preferring the traditional basil pesto, so that’s what we make most often.

fresh organic garden basil

Garlic

Whether you use garlic cloves, garlic scapes, or powdered garlic is up to you. We’ve done all of the above with great success. The key here is just to make sure you have some form of garlic in your pesto for the best flavor.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is definitely our go to when making pesto but you could alternatively use avocado oil. We wouldn’t recommend other nut or seed oils.

adding olive oil in blender to make pesto

Pine Nuts

To be honest, I’ve never made pesto with pine nuts. While this is the traditional way to make it, pine nuts are more difficult to source and more expensive. We have always opted for almonds or walnuts instead.

Parmesan cheese

We have always omitted the cheese in our pesto recipe and it still tastes delicious. Other delicious cheese options here besides parmesan are asiago or Romano cheeses.

Tips for Success When Making Pesto in a Blender

While it may seem straight forward, there are a few tips that will make your experience go much better. 

Ideally, using a high-powered blender like a Vitamix with various power settings and a tamper to push down your basil leaves is extremely helpful when making pesto in a blender.

dairy free homemade pesto

Begin by putting all of your ingredients besides the olive oil in your blender. Turn the blender on and to a high speed and use your tamper to push down your basil leaves. Continue to blend until everything is thoroughly incorporated.

Once your nuts and greens are all finely chopped, pour in the olive oil and blend on medium to high speed until a smooth sauce is formed.

Pesto Nutrition

Pesto is especially high in healthy fat while being relatively low in protein and having almost no carbohydrates. That being said, it is still full of many beneficial vitamins and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. Pesto is also rich in disease preventing antioxidants. 

harvesting basil from the garden

Pesto is probably not something you want to eat copious amounts of at one time. But when treated more like a condiment or sauce, it is a great option!

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Homemade Basil Pesto without Dairy in a Blender

Ingredients:

Yield: Approximately 2 cups

4 Cups packed basil leaves
1 Cup nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts)
3-4 chopped garlic cloves
1 Cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

dairy free pesto made in a blender

Directions:

  • Place basil, nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper into blender.
  • Turn on medium to high speed and blend until greens and nuts are finely chopped.
  • Pour in olive oil.
  • Blend until everything is fully mixed and a smooth and creamy sauce is formed.
  • Pour in containers to refrigerate* or freeze for later use.

*Stores 1-2 weeks in the fridge.

Looking for more easy ways to add herbs into your kitchen adventures? Try these super simple and delicious chocolate mint brownies!

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Fresh Mint Brownies

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quick and easy pesto in a blender without dairy

Quick and Easy Pesto in a Blender without Dairy

Yield: Approx. 2 Cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Pesto is one of those magical foods that feels very fancy, yet is actually so simple to make. We will show you the easiest method to whip up your own pesto in a blender in no time.

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups packed basil leaves
  • 
1 Cup nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts)
  • 
3-4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 
1 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

    1. Place basil, nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper into blender.
    2. Turn on medium to high speed and blend until greens and nuts are finely chopped.
    3. Pour in olive oil.
    4. Blend until everything is fully mixed and a smooth and creamy sauce is formed.
    5. Pour in containers to refrigerate* or freeze for later use.

Notes

*Stores 1-2 weeks in the fridge.

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