Is Pesto Sauce Vegan? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

pesto sauce

Purchasing pesto sauce is one of the best investments you can make in a grocery store.

Most people think this delicacy is only used to top home-cooked pasta, but that’s actually a waste of its potential. Pesto can be used as a dipping sauce, as salad dressing, sandwich spread and even to fill up burritos.

Though the real question is: “Is pesto sauce vegan?”

If we take a trip to Italy where pesto was originally created, you’ll find out that the traditional pesto is made of fresh basil leaves, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and pine nuts. 

That’s right, traditional pesto is NOT vegan. 

But through the course of history, recipes have always received minor tweaks, and thus you may be able to find a pesto recipe that eliminates the need for animal products. 

Are there homemade vegan pesto recipes? Yes.

What about commercialized vegan pesto? Let’s find out. 

Finding Vegan Pesto

In order to find out whether or not you can find vegan pesto in the United States, I visited Walmart’s website because they have a fairly wide variety of pestos.

classico pesto

The Classico Traditional Basil Pesto is by far the most popular option in Walmart but unfortunately, it is not vegan.

The ingredients are basil, soybean oil, garlic, romano cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), olive oil, spices, salt, lactic acid, torula yeast, citric acid, natural flavors.

And quite frankly, these are probably the type of ingredients you will find in most pestos. What you will find are different pesto brands using similar recipes.

Where Can I Find Vegan Pesto?

By typing ‘vegan pesto’ on Walmart’s website, I came across different vegan pesto brands.

vegan pesto

But for some reason, the prices don’t add up.

So I typed the same keyword on Amazon and was given more affordable options.

vegan pesto

The best-selling vegan pesto on Amazon is the Amore Pesto Paste.

The ingredients used on this vegan pesto are the following: basil, sunflower oil, olive oil, salt, pine nuts, garlic, and citric acid.

This is clearly suitable for vegans unless they’re allergic to nuts.

(That goes for most pesto recipes.)

The only downside is that it comes in a plastic tube and thus is less sustainable. Yet at the same time, the pesto isn’t as easily exposed to air (and bacteria/mold), and you can portion out the exact amount needed for a given recipe.

vegan pesto in a jar

Otherwise, you can also choose the second best-sold option.

Although to be frank, it doesn’t look as presentable as the former, even though this one is clearly a more sustainable option.

Plus, the lack of artificial ingredients shortens the pesto’s lifespan.

Here’s the list of ingredients in this pesto: rapeseed oil, ground brazil nuts (23%), basil (2%), white wine vinegar, ground cashew nuts (4%), ground hazelnuts (4%), garlic purée, concentrated apple juice, salt, black pepper, toasted sesame oil, chili powder.

The fact it’s more natural also makes it more expensive than the former option.

Homemade Vegan Pesto

With due respect, the best vegan pesto you can make is the one you make at home. Not only it’s delicious, but it’s also natural, cheap and quick.

While I can’t claim to be a pesto expert, I know of some websites where you can find amazing vegan pesto recipes.

For instance, Loving It Vegan has a vegan pesto recipe that only takes 10 minutes to make.

vegan pesto recipe

The texture resembles that of traditional pesto, and the taste is equally great. If you’re looking for vegan pesto recipes, I’d recommend you to start with this one.

Another great vegan pesto recipe is shared by the Minimalist Baker.

If you wanted an even quicker recipe, this one takes 5 minutes. And it even has a video to guide you through the entire process.

It’s just another amazing recipe you can casually cook up if you’re missing some pesto. The difference between them is that the Minimalist Baker’s recipe is more affordable.

I would suggest you try both to see which one you prefer. 🙂

Summary

Traditional pesto is not vegan.

The original recipe contains cheese, which makes it non-vegan.

But as we’ve seen throughout this blog post, you can find vegan pesto in marketplaces such as Amazon or Walmart.

Plus, you can always check franchises near you and see if they offer the same or similar options. Though, you can’t go wrong with either Amazon or Walmart.

More importantly, don’t forget to try out the homemade recipes by Loving it Vegan and The Minimalist Baker. Making pesto is very easy, and it only takes between 5 and 10 minutes.

If you want to take care of your pesto cravings, I definitely recommend you check those two recipes out.

Thank you for reading!

Stay vegan, stay you. 🙂

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About the Author: Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than three years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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