The Top 5 Best Substitutes For Pesto to Try!

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Pesto is a flavorful, powerful, and unique traditional Italian sauce. Its flavor profile is comparable to none and can be very hard to replace when you run out.

Luckily for you, we found a few different ways to work around the absence of pesto sauces.

Unfortunately, you will never be able to recreate this sauce perfectly unless using the original ingredients. But you can come close.

Suppose you are looking for a delicious way to spice up your dinner tonight or in the future. Here are the top five pesto substitutes we found:

What is Pesto?

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Pesto is an Italian sauce served atop spaghetti, soup, salads, and many other meals. This sauce is often prepared with,

Some recent proof leads us to believe Pesto dates back to Roman Times. But the traditional version comes from Genoa, the capital city of Liguria. Over the years, the makeup of this French dressing changed. The most notable reason for this is the season changes and lack of basil throughout the year.

Nonetheless, the most common creation includes the ingredients listed above. Especially now that purchasing brazil from local shopping centers is easier than ever.

You can often identify pesto by its striking green color and the intense aroma of garlic and other herbs.

Having an original form of pesto ready for your upcoming dish is preferable. Yet, there are ways to create your own version of the sauce if necessary.

The Top 5 Pesto Sauce Substitutes

If you are looking for a great way to create your own pesto sauce last minute, here are a few options to choose from.

1. Basil Oil is the Best Pesto Substitute

If you don’t have any pesto sauce on hand, grabbing some basil oil will do the trick. This gives you a fresh Italian flavor that mimics that of pesto.

When putting together this recipe, make sure you chop the basil into very fine pieces. Preparing the herb this way will give you a thick, flavorful sauce.

What you need:

  • Fresh basil leaves (2 cups)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1 cup)
  • Salt (a pinch)
  • Garlic (1-2 cloves)
  • A blender (optional)


  • Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl.
  • Mix the dry ingredients up well, creating an even blend
  • Add the olive oil to the bowl and stir.
  • You can also toss all the items into the blender and mix them that way.

2. Make Your Own Nut Free Pesto Sauce

Pesto sauce has a distinct taste due to its unique ingredients, including pine nuts.  Therefore, those with nut allergies can’t enjoy traditional pesto sauce.

Luckily, there are a few different ways you can make a nut free option with delicious ingredients. Most of these offer a healthy alternative and a taste like the original.

To make nut free pesto, replace the pine nut with one of the ingredients below:

  • Kale
  • Avacado
  • Watercress
  • Broccoli
  • Chives
  • Pepper

Keep in mind that pine nuts provide a smooth, nutty, sweet flavor that you won’t get from the options above.

Forgo the nuts:

You can also make a nut free option by removing the pine nuts and adding a little extra basil or garlic to your mix.

3. Give Other Condiments and Sauces a Try

While you might not get that bold, zesty, Italian flavor you are more than likely hoping for with Pesto. You can enjoy many meals with other condiments adding a delicious taste you will enjoy.

The fun is in the experimenting process. The dressing you choose will change the flavor profile of your dish. So knowing what condiments best go with each meal choice is crucial.

  • Spaghetti Sauce– Using spaghetti sauce is ideal for pasta and pizzas. If you want to increase the pesto feel, you can always add your own garlic and basil to the pot.
  • Mayonnaise- Using a dollop of mayonnaise is another great substitute for pesto sauce. You can add your own seasonings and herbs to your dressing.  Or you can buy the products with garlic and spices already added in.
  • Herb Oils- Herb oil is an excellent way to replace pesto on dishes that need a thin yet bold flavor profile. While we talked about brazil oil, you can even opt for others like rosemary, parsley, oregano, etc. These oils are ideal for salads, drizzles, and marinades.

You can also create a delicious combination.

4. Use a Variety of Nuts

There are a few different versions of Pesto, depending on where you live. Sicilian Nut Pesto, for instance, requires a variety of nuts to create its sauce. This recipe removes the cheese and inserts other nut types.

The most popular nut to add to this recipe is cashews. Cashews provide a creamy, buttery taste like pinenuts.

Other nuts you can consider adding to your pesto include:

  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Brazil nuts

When you choose to mix in a group of nuts, keep the taste and texture of each option in mind. These other nut variations can change the outcome of your sauce massively.

5. Change Up the Cheese

Most pesto sauces will use hard cheese, the most common being parmesan or Romano. Luckily for those who don’t like this type of cheese, they aren’t the only ones you can use.

Consider substituting out or adding in other cheese like:

Remember, each cheese has its own unique flavor and texture. These individual tastes will make a big difference depending on this dish.

For a smooth, creamy pesto sauce, try using:

  • Feta
  • Goat cheese
  • Gorgonzola
  • Cream cheese

For a sharper, thicker, chunkier  pesto sauce, try using,

  • Cotija
  • Romano
  • Asiago
  • Ricotta

To get the most flavor out of your cheese, use a shredder to create small thin pieces.

The Best Pesto Recipes For Every Meal

Now you have a good understanding of all the ingredients you can use to substitute pesto sauce. Let’s look at a few different ways to create this sauce.

Basil Oil Pesto Sauce

This recipe makes one cup of sauce and doesn’t need many ingredients. Use this oil within 24-48 for the freshest flavor. The result is incredible.


  • Packed basil leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt


Blend all the ingredients listed above in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add more or less, depending on your preference.

For the complete recipe, CLICK HERE.

Easy Home Made 5 Minute Pesto Sauce

This recipe is almost identical to the traditional pesto sauce. This is your best bet if you are looking for something with Italian roots.


  • Fresh grated Parmesan
  • Cloves garlic
  • Pine nuts
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Olive oil


Combine all the dry ingredients into a food processor and mix until chopped into a fine texture. Then add the oil with the blades still running until you get a smooth paste.

For the complete recipe, CLICK HERE.

Pesto Creme Sauce

If you are looking for a fabulous creamy pesto recipe perfect for pairing with Pasta, check this one out.



Prepare linguine by boiling it in a large pot of water. Use the olive oil in a saute pan to saute onions, then add butter and garlic. Next, mix flour and milk and pour into the pan, followed by basil, salt, pepper, and cheese.

Once the sauce is complete, pour it on top of your cooked noodles for a delicious dinner.

For the complete recipe, CLICK HERE.


Summing Things Up

Don’t consider changing your dish if you happen to run out of Pesto Sauce. There are always other options to try. When in a pinch, choose from one of the above ideas and serve a meal that will impress your guests.

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