Vegan Spinach Cashew Pesto

Vegan Spinach Cashew Pesto

The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
291 Calories
26g Fat
11g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 291
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 34%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 439mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 4mg 22%
Calcium 37mg 3%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 255mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This vegan spinach cashew pesto has many uses, and it takes less than five minutes to whip together. Use it on pizzas (like vegan whole wheat pizza or ​no-rise gluten-free dairy-free pizza, or even ​vegan pita pizzas), wraps, sandwiches, crackers, veggies, or on anything that needs some extra texture or flavor. Because this recipe uses cashews instead of pine nuts, the pesto has a nuttier flavor and a bit more body, and because it uses spinach along with basil, the flavor is mellower. It's a powerhouse condiment that's loaded with nutrients.

If you prefer, you can always use a vegan Parmesan cheese substitute in place of the nutritional yeast, but take care to read the ingredient list to make sure that there are no hidden dairy ingredients like whey or casein lurking on the list.

“I was so impressed by the flavor of this vegan pesto. It was absolutely delicious! I used 6 tablespoons of oil instead of the full 1/2 cup because I wanted the sauce a bit thicker for pasta (mixed with some of the pasta water). I used raw cashews instead of toasted.” —Diana Andrews

Vegan Spinach Cashew Pesto/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 1/2 cups cashews

  • 2 cups baby spinach

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves

  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more or less as needed

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Vegan Spinach Cashew Pesto ingredients in bowls and a bottle of oil

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  2. Add the cashews to a food processor or blender. Pulse until the cashews are finely ground.

    cashews in a food processor

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  3. Add the spinach, basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, fresh lemon juice, and sea salt to the food processor or blender, and blend for just 30 seconds or so, or until a chunky mixture forms.

    Vegan Spinach Cashew Pesto ingredients in a food processor

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  4. With the processor or blender still running, stream in the extra virgin olive oil until the pesto reaches the desired consistency. Use less or more oil as needed, scraping down the bowl occasionally.

    Vegan Spinach Cashew Pesto in a food processor, oil added to the food processor

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger


  • You may not need to use the full 1/2 cup of olive oil, or you may decide to use even more. For a thicker, spread-like paste (if using on sandwiches, etc), use less oil; for a thinner pesto (to be used on pasta, over tofu or other proteins, etc), use more oil. If you like your pesto a little on the chunky side (as in the photo), avoid over-blending and instead just get everything to adhere and the flavors to meld together without losing that rustic texture. However, if you like a runnier or more lemony pesto, add a few more tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon or two more of the lemon juice. Basically, just add oil until the pesto looks right for your dish and palate.
  • As with any recipe intended for persons with dietary restrictions or allergies, make sure to read all ingredient labels to make sure that there are no dairy-derived ingredients or other allergens that apply to you. This recipe as written is suitable for dairy-free, lactose-free, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and ​wheat-free diets.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Store the pesto in an airtight container. Top with a thin layer of oil to prevent discoloration. Refrigerated, it will keep for about six to seven days.
  • To freeze, spoon the pesto into an ice cube tray or large muffin tin and place it in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container; the pesto will be good for at least six months.