Is Pesto Vegan? Here Is Everything You Need To Know

Purchasing pesto sauce is one of the best investments you can make.

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.

If we take a trip to Italy, where pesto was created, you’ll find out that the traditional pesto is made with fresh basil leaves, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and pine nuts, therefore, it’s not vegan. 

However, it’s possible to find pesto recipes that don’t use animal products, including store-bought pesto. 

Searching For Vegan Pesto

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 pesto sauces.

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 pesto sauces. What you will find are different pesto brands using similar recipes.

Read Next: Is Marinara Sauce Vegan? (Here is Everything You Need To Know)

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.

Read Next: Is Soy Sauce Vegan? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

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 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 Minimalist Baker’s recipe is more affordable.

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

Read Next: Is Worcestershire Sauce Vegan? (Here Is Everything You Need To Know)

Summary

Traditional pesto is not vegan. Unfortunately, the traditional pesto recipe contains Parmesan cheese, which is not suitable for vegans. 

However, as we’ve seen in this blog post, it’s still possible to find vegan pesto, including store-bought pesto. 

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 the homemade recipes by Loving it Vegan and The Minimalist Baker. Making vegan pesto is easy, and it only takes between 5 and 10 minutes of your time. 

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


Pesto FAQs

Is Pesto Vegetarian?

Even though pesto is not vegan, it should be suitable for vegetarians that consume dairy products, which can also be referred to as lacto-vegetarians. 

Since the only animal ingredient in pesto is Parmesan cheese, you should find that most vegetarians eat pesto unless they are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy. 

Is Pesto Gluten-Free?

Pesto is typically made with fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, pine nuts, and garlic, which means it’s naturally gluten-free. 

Is Sainsbury’s Pesto Vegan?

While not every pesto at Sainsbury’s is vegan, they have a pesto made by a brand called Sacla that is labeled as 100% suitable for vegans.

It’s made with basil, tofu, cashew, sunflower seed oil, rice syrup, potato flakes, and a couple of acidity regulators like lactic acid, pine kernels, spices, and salt. 

Is Tesco’s Pesto Vegan?

Yes, Tesco has its own pesto that is made with basil, tofu, and cashew nuts. It’s both vegan and gluten-free, according to their official website

They also have a red pesto variety that is also suitable for vegans, but it’s made with sundried tomatoes. 

Is Woolworths Pesto Vegan?

According to its official website, Woolworths sells a 100% vegan pesto from a brand called I Pastai.

It’s made with basil, olive oil, tree nuts, fresh herbs, soy protein concentrate, garlic, natural flavoring, salt, sugar, spices, and citric acid.

Is Trader Joe’s Pesto Vegan?

Trader Joe’s has its own prepared vegan pesto in the refrigerated section, which is made with kale, a blend of olive oils, basil, cashew butter, water, garlic, lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper.

It’s difficult to miss it as it’s clearly labeled as being 100% suitable for vegans. 

Our Recommendation For Vegans

Future Kind’s Essential Vitamins: This is our favorite multivitamin. It’s not the typical multivitamin because it was formulated to specifically address potential shortcomings in the vegan diet. It contains the essential vitamin B12, vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA) delivered in necessary doses so you don’t have to worry about potential deficiencies. Want to learn more about it? Check out the review we did on it.

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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