Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
4.69 from 22 votes

My homemade nut-free pesto sauce is a recipe you will want to save so you can use it repeatedly. It will go well with many of your other dishes, and it tastes phenomenal. I even give you tips on how to make it dairy-free, too!

A small mason jar filled with nut free pesto.

Not going to lie, I think I might be addicted to this nut free pesto recipe because it’s so good and super EASY to throw together. You can top your favorite steak recipe, dip it in these Gluten Free Breadsticks, or toss it with pasta. No matter how you serve it, every drop gets eaten in the Fearless Dining household. 

I think one reason why I love this nut-free pesto sauce recipe is that I enjoy growing my own herbs. There is just something rewarding about using food that you have grown yourself. Try growing basil in your kitchen window!

Loved the idea of sunflower seeds instead, I even had a bag handy I’ve been trying to get rid of. Freezing some for future use. Tastes fantastic!”

Shannon G., Pinterest user

Why This Nut Free Pesto Is Great:

  1. If you have been looking for a pesto recipe without pine nuts, this is your recipe!!
  2. This is truly the best nut-free pesto sauce recipe.
  3. Making a pesto without pine nuts is easier than you may think! You can even use this pesto sauce to top this gluten free sourdough pizza crust!
  4. Many of my readers love to make it and freeze it in ice cube trays so they can enjoy this pesto all year long!

If you love this basil pesto without nuts recipe, check out some of my other delicious sauces.

Tips For Success:

  • Use raw, unsalted sunflower seeds. Their texture grinds nicely, and raw sunflower seeds have a more creamy flavor.
  • To make this nut-free pesto dairy-free, use a high-quality, dairy-free parmesan cheese. VioLife makes the BEST dairy-free parmesan that I have found to date.
  • Freeze this pesto in an ice cube tray so you always have it on hand!
Raw sesame seeds in a wooden spoon.

Ingredient Notes:

  • Sunflower Seeds – Be sure to use unsalted raw sunflower seeds! The hero of this no nut pesto recipe is the sunflower seeds. They add the “texture” and nuttiness this pesto recipe needs. It is so easy to make a delicious pesto without pine nuts!!
  • Basil – Use fresh basil. Basil is one of the most versatile herbs to use, and it is delicious in recipes like this Grilled Steak with Fresh Basil Pesto Sauce.
  • Garlic – I do find this tastes better when you use fresh garlic cloves vs jarred minced garlic. Do not use garlic powder in this recipe.
  • Oil – Use extra virgin olive oil. You can also read is your olive oil is gluten free.
  • Lemon Juice – You can use fresh or jarred lemon juice for this recipe.
  • Parmesan Cheese – You can use any brand; just make sure it is grated and not shredded.


  • As I mentioned above, substitute VioLife Dairy-Free Parmesan in place of parmesan cheese if you are dairy-free.
  • I like to use extra virgin olive oil, but you can use regular olive oil if that is what you have on hand.
Top PIck
Hamilton Beach Food Processor 8 Cup, Black

I have had my Hamilton Beach Food Processor for years. It is durable and never lets me down.

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Recipe Step-By-Step Directions:

Fresh basil, garlic, sesame seeds in a food processor.

This is a simple one-step recipe! Add the fresh basil, sunflower seeds, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and parmesan to a food processor and blend until the seeds and basil are creamy and sauce-like. That is it. It is super easy!

If you love to use fresh herbs as I do, you will want to check out this article on How to Use Fresh Herbs in Your Cooking. I can’t say enough about using fresh herbs; it makes a big difference in freshness and flavor.

Tips and Recipe FAQ:

Can this no-nut pesto sauce go bad?

Yes, pesto can go bad. This homemade pesto recipe will last around 1 week in the fridge. You shouldn’t let the pesto sit on the counter, or it will go bad quickly.

If you notice that the pesto has begun turning brown, that indicates it’s time to toss it. It won’t taste good at that point either, so you wouldn’t even want to eat it.

Can you freeze pesto?

Yes, you can freeze pesto without pine nuts. Put it in freezer-safe bags or an airtight container, or freeze it in ice cubes. If you go the ice cube route, you can pop them out of the container and place them in freezer bags. Then grab what you need.

Set it on the counter for a few minutes to defrost it. Then, use it as you normally would. It will last around 6 months in the freezer.

Is this nut-free pesto vegetarian?

Yes, you can eat this nut-free pesto with a vegetarian diet. See the Substitutions List above for my recommendations on making this nut-free pesto recipe vegan.

What to do if the pesto is too thick?

If you run into too thick of pesto, you can easily fix this issue by adding a little olive oil. I recommend starting with 1 teaspoon at a time until it reaches the consistency you are looking for. If you notice it’s too thin, add some more basil or sunflower seeds.

How do you fix bitter pesto?

While you shouldn’t normally have a problem with bitter pesto, it happens occasionally. If this happens to you, it is probably due to the basil. The best way to combat that is to add some fresh spinach leaves to the nut-free pesto. It will take away the bitterness and allow it to be still edible.

The top view of a jar of nut-free pesto sauce next to a broken garlic bulb.

Ways To Use Pesto:

The Best Nut-Free Pesto Sauce

Sandi Gaertner
A delicious nut-free pesto sauce that is perfect for any time.
Love this recipe?Give it a star rating!
4.69 from 22 votes
an egg free allergen icon
gluten free allergy icon
soy free allergy icon
vegetarian icon
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Gluten Free Sauces and Marinades
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8
Calories 74 kcal

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • cup sunflower seeds
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons extra virginolive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • sea salt to taste


  • Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until mostly smooth.
  • Enjoy :-).


  1. I highly recommend using a food processor to grind up this pesto.
  2. This pesto will keep up to 4 days in an air-tight container, or up to 4 months in the freezer. (Tip: Freeze it in an ice cube tray so you have single-serve portions anytime you need it.)
  3. If you are vegan or dairy-free, you can make this pesto without pine nuts using VioLife Vegan Parmesan Cheese. It is the best vegan parmesan cheese I have found, and it tastes wonderful in this recipe.


Please know that every gluten free flour blend has a different starch to grain ratio. If you use a blend I didn’t test, you may need to adjust your moisture levels in your baked goods.


Serving: 1gCalories: 74kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 31mgPotassium: 54mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 331IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 1mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @FearlessDining or tag #FearlessDining!

Nutrition Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.

This post was updated from an older August 2019 post with more information and photos.

Fearless Dining

Your go-to haven for gluten-free living, where I share hundreds of delicious, family-friendly recipes, helpful gluten-free resources, and allergen-friendly options for everyone!


  1. This is very good however next time I will use a bit less lemon or perhaps fresh squeezed as the bottled lemon juice seems a little overpowering.

  2. I can’t wait to try this Sandi! I can’t have walnuts and don’t care for pine nuts and those seem to be what every pesto recipe calls for!

      1. Hi,
        I’m thinking of making this. Is sounds delicious! I have 2 questions: Should the sunflower seeds be raw or roasted? When measuring the basil, is it packed into the cups or lightly filled?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating