angled view of a bowl of pasta covered in green pesto topped with breadcrumbs

Easy Nut-Free Vegan Pesto

 Ingredient Notes

  • Basil: The main flavour in this pesto is basil so you want to get the good stuff. Either get yourself a plant or even the pre-packaged stuff but check the leaves for a nice bright green vibrancy. You don’t want any leaves wilted as that means the rest of the pack is on the way too. Make sure you remove the large bulky stems!
  • Breadcrumbs: These act as a “replacement” for pine nuts to make the dish nut-free. I put that in quotes because they are there to act as that subtle crunch but I wouldn’t even consider them a replacement. I’d say breadcrumb pesto is a thing in itself (perhaps better) and should not be considered a replacement or substitute. If you don’t believe me, listen to Massimo Bottura’s advice. A restaurant titan with Michelin stars prefers breadcrumbs over pine nuts!


Cooking Notes

  • Blender OR Pestle and Mortar: You can interchange what you use it just depends if you want to be more rustic. For this recipe we want it to be easy, and that means whacking it in the blender! I find that a blender can be too sharp and cuts the basil cleanly, so make sure you bruise the leaves before by bending and pressing them to release that basil goodness. If you want to be more authentic and rustic you can find my other pesto recipe that uses pestle and mortar (here).
  • Don’t Heat Up The Pesto: I know this is under ‘cooking notes’ but you shouldn’t really cook a pesto. It ruins the delicate light green basil-ness that is pesto and makes it a darker less balanced dish. This is crucial when blending as blend too long and the motor heat transfers to the dish. Pulse for 1 second, pause for 10 seconds and go again.


Easy Vegan Nut-Free Pesto

A vegan homemade version of a classic Italian sauce, using breadcrumbs instead of pine nuts to keep it nut-free!
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Dinner, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Sauce
Servings: 3 people, 6 Hobbits, 30 Fairies


  • Blender
  • Or Pestle and Mortar


  • 60 g Basil leaves, large thick stems removed
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 3 Garlic cloves, peeled
  • 60 g Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp Nutritional yeast
  • 2-3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • Splash of cold water


  • Start by toasting the panko breadcrumbs in a pan if needed. (Check the back, some come pre cooked/toasted)
  • Remove any large stems from the basil leaves.
  • Before adding the basil leaves to the blender, bruise them by bending and pressing them a little.
  • Add in all of the other ingredients to the blender besides the breadcrumbs.
  • Blend the ingredients on low, with a quick one second pulse. Leave a gap of 10 seconds in between each pulse (so the blender doesn't get hot and cooks the pesto).
  • Remove from the blender and stir in the breadcrumbs.
  • Serve with pasta, focaccia, salad, pizza....everything!