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5.0 from 1 vote

There’s nothing like a fresh batch of pesto at the end of summer, and this Whole30 pesto is everything right now.

photo of pesto in a jar

Why This Recipe Works

You know I’m all about eating for the seasons, and pesto is THE recipe for summer. It’s so versatile! You can put it on chicken, toss it with some pasta, spread it on some bread, or drizzle it on top of a Caprese salad. However you use pesto, it makes everything taste like it came straight from the garden.

This recipe also works well because it’s Whole30 friendly. Traditional pesto often uses Parmeggiano cheese, or even Pecorino Romano. But I made this Whole30 Pesto to be dairy-free so that it is compliant with the diet.

Instead of the cheese, I added a bit of nutritional yeast. While it’s often used in place of cheese in many dishes, you don’t absolutely need it for this recipe. So if you don’t have it, don’t stress! Your pesto will be just as good, I promise.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast has a savory, cheesy flavor and a slightly nutty taste, which makes it a perfect replacement ingredient for this Whole30 pesto sauce.

It’s considered a healthy food for many reasons: it is a complete protein source, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body needs. It’s also rich in vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, zinc, selenium, and iron.

The Ingredients

ingredients for Whole30 Pesto

You’ll love that you don’t need anything fancy to make a batch of pesto. Here are they key ingredients:

  • fresh basil: you can grow your own, grab some from the farmer’s market, or your local grocery store in the produce aisle. It’s abundant in the summer!
  • pine nuts: pine nuts are considered the “king of nuts,” partly because they are so nutritious. The catch is that they are expensive. If you aren’t up for the splurge, you can substitute cashews, or even pumpkin seeds, if you have a nut allergy.
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic
  • salt & pepper

Optional ingredient:

  • nutritional yeast (see my note above about that, if you’re unfamiliar with it)

As for equipment, you can use a high speed blender or food processor to blend the ingredients together.

How to Make Whole30 Pesto

To make this pesto, you place all the ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend for about 30 seconds. That’s it! I told you it was super easy.

pesto in the blender, before and after

If you like your pesto more thick and chunky, stop at about 30 seconds; if you like it more creamy, blend for about a minute, or until it looks perfect to you. I like my pesto chunky with bits of nuts still in it, so I stop on the earlier side.

Also, if you like your pesto to be more think and liquid-y, add 1/4 cup more olive oil than what the recipe calls for.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is this recipe Whole30 compliant?
Answer: Yes! This pesto recipe is Whole30 compliant. If you’re on the Whole30 you know that flavor is something you are craving, so slather that pesto on your chicken or burger!

Question: What if I don’t have nutritional yeast? Do I need it?
Answer: No, you don’t have to include the nutritional yeast.

Question: What can I use pesto for?
Answer: You can use pesto on top of veggies or eggs, as a condiment inside wraps or sandwiches, or over any protein, like chicken, shrimp, or burgers. It’s extremely versatile!

Question: How long does pesto keep in the refrigerator?
Answer: You can keep pesto in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in a tightly sealed container or jar. You can also freeze pesto! I like to use large ice cube trays and freeze them so I have them in the colder months.

up close shot of fresh pesto in a jar

If you love summer recipes, try my Caprese Salad, my gluten-free Zucchini Lasagna, or my Paleo Summer Slaw. And if you make this pesto recipe, tell me how you used it in the comments!

Healthy Whole30 Pesto

Healthy Whole30 Pesto

Recipe by Alessandra Macaluso
5.0 from 1 vote

This recipe is perfect for summer. You can top your proteins with it, like chicken, burgers, eggs or shrimp. You can toss it with pasta, or use it as a condiment in a wrap or sandwich. It is so fresh in the summertime!

Difficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


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  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves

  • 1 cup pine nuts (see notes for substitutions)

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)


  • Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend for 30 seconds. If you prefer a smooth consistency, blend for about a minute, or until it looks perfect to you. That’s it! Use this on top of proteins, such as chicken or shrimp, toss it over pasta, slather it on bread, or use it as a condiment for wraps and sandwiches. Enjoy!


  • If you like a smoother consistency, blend or process for longer. If you like your pesto thinner or more liquid-y, add olive oil by the 1/4 cup until it looks good to you.
  • The nutritional yeast is optional; it offers a nutty flavor that can step in for cheese. But your pesto will taste just as good without it!

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Alessandra Macaluso is the author of What a Good Eater! , Lucy the Bee and the Healing Honey, and The Real-Deal Bridal Bible. She’s also a Qigong and Tai Chi instructor, and overall wellness advocate. Her work has been featured in several anthologies which can all be found on her Amazon author page, and she has contributed to The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, and many other online publications.

Alessandra is a northerner-turned-southerner, enjoying the south with her children, Penelope and Ciro, and her husband, Greg.

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Ooohhh, I am soo saving this one, I love pesto on fresh hot bred πŸ™‚ Not to mention all kind of food recipes πŸ™‚

Boban!!! Me too. It is so great to hear from you πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoyed the pesto recipe – it is so yummy!!!

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