Top 9 Allergen Friendly Basil Pesto Recipe

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Discover a delightful top 9 allergen friendly twist on traditional pesto with this homemade recipe that’s not only dairy-free but also nut-free. Elevate your gluten free pasta dishes or spread it on sandwiches for a burst of fresh, herbaceous flavour without compromising taste or your allergies.

A jar of nut free basil pesto on two round white plates, on a white towel with a weathered white wood table.

The Quick Lowdown:

Flavour/Taste: The taste of this pesto sauce is extremely similar to a traditional pesto.

Texture: The sauce is an emulsification but is not a super smooth sauce. It does have some texture to it, like a traditional pesto.

Speed: This allergy friendly pesto sauce comes together in under 15 minutes.

Difficulty: Nut and dairy free pesto is extremely easy, it can be easily made by beginners.

Return for effort: The food processor does all the work and takes minutes to make.

About This Allergy Friendly Pesto Recipe

Pesto is a sauce that is traditionally made with pine nuts, olive oil, basil, and parmesan cheese. It is a very popular spread and sauce for many pasta and pizza dishes but is one that often is overlooked as a sauce where there are hidden top allergens. Many do not realise that there is dairy in the form of parmesan cheese in pesto and that pine nuts, whilst technically seeds, are usually classified as tree nuts.

Food Allergy Canada is one such allergy expert that classifies pine nuts as tree nuts and to be avoided by those with nut allergies. The American organisation that provides education on allergies and common allergens, FAACT, notes “while pine (pignolia nut) … are technically seeds, many allergists recommend avoidance of these items. Please check with your board-certified allergist for specific guidance.”

Another organisation in the US, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, has acknowledged that there are studies that have shown there is a possibility of cross reactivity with peanuts and other nuts.

With these reliable allergy ressources cautioning the exposure of pine nuts to those with nut allergies and our own personal experience with our additional dairy allergies we steer clear of traditional pesto sauce. Instead we use our cooking knowledge as a family with food allergies to make an alternative dairy and nut free pesto that is safe for us. We use pesto to add flavour to some of our pastas and on our homemade sub sandwiches.

Nut Free Basil Pesto Ingredients labelled on a weathered white wood table.

Ingredients

  • Green Pumpkin Seeds, pepitas
  • Dairy Free Parm “cheese”, shredded finely
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Basil
  • Fresh Lemon Juice

See recipe card for quantities.

The Ingredient Low Down

Green Pumpkin Seeds

The part of the pumpkin seed you want is the green inner seed. It is free from the white outer shell. This part is often referred to as pepitas, or green pumpkin seeds.

Pro tip: Seeds have a high cross contact with other allergens, such as nuts, make sure to check that they are safe for you. You may need to check out more than one brand to find one that is safe for you. Always check with the manyfacturer for shared lines and facilities with allergens as many seeds are packaged in facilities and line with nuts. Do not rely on the packages not having a may contain warning. Those warnings are not regulated and are not mandatory – the only way to check for suitability is by contacting the manufacturer.

Dairy Free Parm “Cheese”

If the dairy free parmesan-like cheese you prefer comes as a block of “cheese” shred it before measuring it to add to the food processor.

Garlic

A few cloves of fresh garlic give the best flavour. Do not switch this ingredient for dried garlic granules or powder.

Olive Oil

A lot of flavour of this sauce comes from the olive oil used. Use an extra virgin olive oil, if it is safe for you.

Basil

Fresh basil is the only way to go for pesto. Do not use dried basil or the flowers.

Pro tip: You can use the leaves and the soft green stems for this recipe. The food processor will chop it all up and you won’t know the stems are even in there. Be sure the stems are soft and not woody, you should be able to break the stems with your thumbnail.

Fresh Lemon Juice

We use freshly squeezed lemon juice, as a preference for fewer ingredients and less chances of cross contact issues. However, the bottled lemon juice from the juice or baking aisle can be used in the same quantities.

Instructions for Making Nut Free Pesto

Hint: Toasting the seeds gives the pesto a nutty flavour without using any nuts.

Low Food Waste Tips

If growing your own basil and it needs pinching back, scale down this recipe to make a smaller portion of pesto. See our Pro Tips for the ratio to this recipe.

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Substitutions, Variations, & Adaptations

  • Sunflower seeds – Toasted unsalted sunflower seeds are also a great nut free alternative for pesto making.
  • Other herbs – garlic scapes, parsley, mint,  or cilantro are popular pesto herb alternatives to make pesto without basil.
  • Greens – for a switch of flavour replace the basil with spinach or carrot greens.
  • Spicy – add a seeded fresh chilli pepper to the food processor for a kick. Start with a tiny bit of the pepper, taste the pesto and increase as needed.
  • Cheesier – A pinch or two of nooch or nutritional yeast will give the pesto a B12 kick and add a ton of cheese-like flavour. Use it sparingly though as it can be an acquired taste.
  • Sun Dried Tomato – instead of basil or in place of half of the recommended amount of basil use sun dried tomatoes that were stored in oil in the pesto for a rustic tomato taste.

See this Wild Garlic Scape and Sunflower Seed Pesto Recipe we have.

gluten free vegan pizza dough

Equipment

Pan for toasting the seeds and bringing out the nutty flavour. The pan should be big enough so the seeds aren’t crowded in the pan. It is a dry roasting process in the pan.

Food Processor to emulsify the nut free pesto recipe. It will help to break up all the pieces of the seeds into fine bits and combine them with the olive oil. If doing this by hand, a mortar and pestle can be used but it will take a lot more time and effort. Alternatively, a small magic bullet type blender can be used effectively to make this recipe.

Measuring cups and spoons to measure out the right amounts of the ingredients for this recipe.

Glass jar for the top 9 allergy friendly pesto to store in the fridge. One that seals and is sterilised is best. We use a small canning jar.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Storage

This recipe contains garlic in olive oil and it is recommended to keep it in the fridge for storage for no longer than 72 hours. Do not freeze the nut free basil pesto. It will separate and does not hold up well when frozen.

Pro Tip

This nut free pesto recipe is what is called a ratio recipe. It can be scaled up or down easily by keeping hte same ratio of ingredients. For this allergy friendly basil pesto it is a 1:2:2:8 ratio.

Where :

  • 1 part Seeds (nuts traditionally but not for us)
  • 2 parts oil
  • 2 parts dairy free cheese
  • 8 parts herbs

By changing the amounts but still keeping this ratio we can make large batches or a serving for one.

FAQ

How to make pesto without nuts?

Traditionally, pesto is made with dairy in the form of parmesan cheese, olive oil, and toasted pine nuts. Pine nuts are classified as a tree nut in most countries, whilst technically a seed, and many people have allergies to pine nuts and cannot have a traditional pesto.
For more information on pine nuts please check out the Food Allergy Canada which classifies pine nuts as tree nuts and FAACT who notes “while pine (pignolia nut) … are technically seeds, many allergists recommend avoidance of these items. Please check with your board-certified allergist for specific guidance.”
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology also recommends that those with nut allergies avoid pine nuts as there is a possible cross reactivity to other nuts and peanuts.
This nut free pesto recipe uses the green pumpkin seeds in place of nuts to make this an alternative to using nuts in pesto. The interior pumpkin seeds are also called pepitas.

What to use instead of pine nuts in pesto if you are nut free ?

If you are nut free or have a nut allergy check with your medical team if seeds are safe for you. If they are, you can replace pine nuts or any other nut in a pesto recipe with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. The peeled green pepitas of the pumpkin seeds are the part that is needed or the shelled unsalted sunflower seeds.
Before you buy any seeds be sure to contact the manufacturer and packager of the seeds to make sure they are free from shared lines and cross contact with nuts or other allergens. You can grow your own pumpkins and peel the white outer shell off the seeds, but it is a ton of work.
We recommend toasting seeds that are safe for you to give pesto without pine nuts a nutty flavour that will mimic nuts in this recipe without any actual nuts.

How to Serve Pesto Without Nuts

Nut free pesto is an amazingly versatile recipe that can be used in so many ways. It is a fabulous spread for sandwiches, top 9 free crackers, or on charcuterie boards.

It also is a great tomato free pasta sauce replacement. Use it in place of marinara sauce on cooked gluten free pasta.

This nut free pesto recipe makes the most wonderful flavourful pizza sauce like on our peach and prosciutto pizza.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 13 minutes

Servings: 1 Cup Yield

Calories: 772kcal

Explore a top 9 allergen friendly delectable twist on classic pesto with our homemade recipe—crafted without dairy or nuts. This from-scratch pesto promises a burst of fresh, herb-infused goodness to elevate your culinary creations. Perfect for pasta, sandwiches, or as a flavorful dip.

Ingredients

  • ¼ Cup Pumpkin Seeds pepitas
  • ½ Cup Dairy Free Parm “cheese” shredded finely
  • 1- 2 Cloves Garlic sliced
  • ¼-½ Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 cups Basil roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice fresh

Instructions

  • Toast the pumpkin seeds over low heat in a small pan. When toasted, pour into a food processor. Install the multi-purpose S blade to make the pesto.
  • Add dairy free cheese, and garlic to the seeds. Whiz up at high speed for about 20-30 seconds. The seeds should be finely chopped and the dairy free cheese will be in tiny flecks.
  • Drizzle the olive oil safely through the food processor sauce port while mixing with the food processor and keep blending until thoroughly mixed. Stop the food processor.
  • Put the basil and lemon juice into the food processor.. Whiz again on high until the basil is finely chopped. Stop processing when the basil is chopped and the sauce emulsified.
  • Transfer the nut free basil pesto into a clean jar with a lid. Use a spatula to get all the pesto out of the food processor. Store the dairy free pesto without nuts in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

Notes

We used grated Violife Just Like Parmesan Wedge, or Follow your Heart Brand Dairy free Parmesan-like shreds. Pesto can be used as pasta sauce, pizza sauce, sandwich condiments or a drizzle for dinner. This is a really great alternative for tomato free pasta sauces. Be sure to check with the seed manufacturer with allergen cross contact. There can be higher risks of seeds being processed in plants on shared lines with nuts or sesame seeds. Instead of basil other herbs (cilantro, parsley, or mint) can be used to switch the flavour, including vegetables, like carrot greens or spinach. Other seeds can be used in place of pumpkin seeds (pepitas). Sunflower seeds work really well. Alternative recipe on our site for Wild garlic pesto using garlic scapes and sunflower seeds.

Nutrition

Calories: 772kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 74g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 42g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 566mg | Potassium: 313mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2536IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 149mg | Iron: 4mg

Food Safety for Nut Free Basil Pesto

  • Do not store fresh garlic in oil for longer than 72 hours and keep it in the fridge at 40F or lower. Do not store garlic in oil at room temperature or it poses a botulism risk as per the USDA guidelines
  • Contact the manufacturer of products, regarding cross contact and ingredients, to ensure they are safe for you
  • Always check ingredients for allergens
  • Do not use the same utensils on allergen free food, that previously touched allergens
  • Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
  • Never leave cooking food unattended
  • Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
  • Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove

See more guidelines at USDA.gov.

This article originally appeared on TheAllergenFreeKitchen and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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