The Whole Smiths

Whole Eating + Happy Living

paleo pesto

 A dairy-free, Whole30 compliant paleo pesto recipe made with fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and cashew nuts! No cheese needed! Better than store-bought and so simple and easy to make from scratch! 

You won’t miss the cheese in this Paleo Pesto Recipe: 

For some reason, recreating a paleo (or simply dairy-free) version of this herby Italian sauce always seemed out of the realm of possibility when I first started cleaning up my diet. I mean, wasn’t that nutty, briny, salty parmesan the key to making a pesto pop? It’s just one component of the recipe but when there’s only 5 ingredients… well, could it really be done?

I’m happy to report that the answer is a voracious, “Hell yeah!”. I can’t even tell the difference and you won’t be able to either. But I couldn’t simply just omit the parmesan (or pecorino), I needed to replace it with something else that would give me the same flavors. And with that thought process, I came up with the ultimate… secret ingredient.

It’s come to my attention that you guys love secret ingredients as illustrated by the popularity of my Pumpkin Pie Smoothie and Kale Pizza Chips. What’s not to love, right?

Without further ado I bring you the secret ingredient in my paleo pesto… salted cashews! Yep. Saltiness? Check! Nuttiness? Check! Creamy, sweetness? Check and check!

And there you have it folks, the secret to making a dairy-free pesto (that’s also Whole30 compliant) taste just like the real thing. I’m pretty sure Padma and even Giada wouldn’t notice.

Enjoy getting your newest favorite condiment on my friends!

Ways to use Paleo Pesto – beyond pasta: 

You might think of pesto as something to be tossed with pasta but seriously, guys, let’s not stop there! This Paleo Pesto has so much more to offer.

If you’re looking for something yummy to make with this I’d recommend my Sweet Potato Chicken + Pesto Bites (that will be added later this week). I also frequently add this recipe to my eggs in the morning or use it to dip fresh cut veggies in at lunch.

And for the true pesto lovers, I even have a Pesto Mayo that’s sure to knock your socks off.

More ways to use your homemade pesto:

  • Use it to jazz up salad dressings.
  • Mix it into dips.
  • Drizzle some on top of soups. It looks pretty and adds a nice Mediterranean touch to veggie soups.
  • It makes an awesome sandwich spread!
  • Instead of butter, use a dab of pesto to garnish your steamed or grilled vegetables. Try it on green beans and/or grilled asparagus.

side view of a jar of homemade dairy-free paleo pesto made with pine nuts and cashews

Tips for making the best Paleo Pesto: 

  • Choose high-quality extra-virgin olive oil – preferably one that you like the flavor of on its own.
  • Toasting the pine nuts before adding them to the blender will give an unreal depth of flavor to your homemade paleo pesto so don’t skip this step. I recommend toasting them at lower heat in the oven as opposed to a pan as they burn super quickly. Preheat the oven to 325°.  Place pine nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 7 minutes.  Stir and continue baking for 3 minutes or until lightly golden. Watch them carefully towards the end.
  • We love garlic! I know! Still, let’s not go too crazy especially if your garlic is powerful. It can so easily overpower the rest of the sauce and that would be a shame. Start with a small amount of garlic, and add more if needed.
  • And now a secret tip from the Italian “nonna” we all wish we had: put some ice cubes in the food processor and pulse to chill your machine, before preparing your pesto. This simple step will help in keeping your pesto a bright appetizing green.
  • Loved the basic? Awesome! Now break the rules and replace part of the basil with arugula, cilantro or fresh parsley and add pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts or sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts.

How to store homemade pesto: 

Transfert your paleo pesto to a jar and drizzle a little olive oil over the top to keep it nice and green. Your homemade pesto can keep for a few weeks in the fridge if you continue to cover the top with more olive to keep the herbs under it fresh. 

Another clever way to store pesto is to freeze it in ice cube trays. As the frozen pesto cubes sometimes stick to the tray, I line the ice cube trays with little pieces of plastic wrap.

 Once frozen, pop the pesto cubes out and transfer them to a freezer bag.

paleo pesto recipe dairy-free
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

paleo pesto

An easy dairy-free, Whole30 compliant pesto recipe made with fresh basil, pine nuts, extra-virgin olive oil and cashew nuts! No cheese needed! So simple and easy to make from scratch and so delish you'll want to put it on everything! 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time1 min
Total Time6 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Paleo Whole30
Keyword: dairy-free basil pesto, paleo pesto recipe, pesto without cheese
Servings: 4 -6
Author: the Whole Smiths

Ingredients

  • 2 C. basil
  • 1/2 C. olive oil
  • 1/4 C. salted cashews
  • 1/4 C. toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients into a blender and pulse until combined. Not too chunky and not too smooth.

Notes

  • Choose high-quality extra-virgin olive oil - preferably one that you like the flavor of on its own.
  • Toasting the pine nuts before adding them to the blender will give an unreal depth of flavor to your homemade paleo pesto so don't skip this step. I recommend toasting them at lower heat in the oven as opposed to a pan as they burn super quickly. Preheat the oven to 325°.  Place pine nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 7 minutes.  Stir and continue baking for 3 minutes or until lightly golden. Watch them carefully towards the end.
  • We love garlic! I know! Still, let's not go too crazy especially if your garlic is powerful. It can so easily overpower the rest of the sauce and that would be a shame. Start with a small amount of garlic, and add more if needed.
  • And now a secret tip from the Italian "nonna" we all wish we had: put some ice cubes in the food processor and pulse to chill your machine, before preparing your pesto. This simple step will help in keeping your pesto a bright appetizing green.
  • Loved the basic? Awesome! Now break the rules and replace part of the basil with arugula, cilantro or fresh parsley and add pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts or sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts.

the whole smiths

Paleo Pesto Pinterest Graphic

share this on:
Condiments, Paleo, Recipes, Whole30

Note: I only work with companies and products that I feel passionately about and that align with the Whole Smiths’ views and that this post contains sponsored content. While I am compensated for the work I do, my opinions and bad jokes are always 100% my own.

8 thoughts on “paleo pesto

  1. Hi! Where do you find salted cashews that are W30 compliant? The ones I find have peanut oil or another non-compliant oil.
    Thanks!!

  2. I always make your Whole 30 mayo, but I need to use Avocado Oil instead. I’ve tried with different brands of Olive oil and it just doesn’t work. Can I use any olive oil for the Pesto? Really trying to avoid another waste here 🙂

Leave a Reply

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

You have Successfully Subscribed!