A little different than a standard pesto, 6 ingredient pistachio pesto uses pistachio nuts to completely replace pine nuts. This makes a slightly looser, more textured pesto that works very well with hearty pasta dishes. Make it vegan with nutritional yeast or use cheese, it's up to you.

Lots of basil that needs to be used? Try my pesto salad dressing. Use this pesto for pasta, on sandwiches, or mixed with cooked beans for a simple addition to a filling salad.

A jar of pesto on a plate with basil leaves around.
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Not much different from a standard vegan pesto, you'll need plenty of fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil, plus pistachios for the creamy factor.

Pistachio pesto ingredients with labels.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Nutritional yeast: this adds a cheesy flavour to vegan pesto, but you can use Parmesan cheese (vegan, vegetarian, or standard) if preferred.
  • Pistachios: shelled and unsalted. Roasted is fine but make sure they're not heavily salted snacking nuts. You can of course use un-shelled if you want to shell them yourself.
  • Basil: the large leaves or tops of basil plants, if you're harvesting it yourself, or use thin stems as well if you've bought a bundle.
  • Oil: use a good extra-virgin olive oil if possible, for the best taste.

Step by Step

Pesto in a food processor, before and after blending.

Step 1: add all of the pesto ingredients except the oil to a food processor.

Step 2: mix, then add the oil in a slow stream until fully combined.

Top Tips

  • Add the oil slowly: pouring the oil in a slow stream while the pesto is blending encourages emulsification, so you end up with a creamier pesto.
  • Mix cheese in last: if you want to use cheese rather than nutritional yeast, add it after the pesto has been blended and just pulse to incorporate.
  • Sweeten if needed: pistachios are a little sweet so it should be fine. If your basil is bitter, though, you can add about ½ teaspoon of sweetener if needed to balance it out.

How to Store

Storage: store the pesto for up to 3 days in a sealed container in the fridge. Since this version doesn't use lemon juice, it won't keep for as long.

Freezing: transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to a month. Note that the colour will probably change when it thaws.

Pesto pasta in a shallow bowl with extra basil leaves.


Can you substitute pistachios for pine nuts in pesto?

Almost any kind of nut or seed can be substituted for pine nuts in pesto, and pistachios are particularly good.

How do you eat pesto?

Pesto is most often served as a pasta sauce (thin it with a little pasta cooking water) but is great on sandwiches and wraps, mixed with yogurt to make a dip, and to top soup.

Do you eat pesto hot or cold?

Pesto shouldn't be heated too much, because it ruins the taste of the basil. It can be mixed with hot pasta to make a sauce, but is usually served cold or at room temperature.

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A jar of pesto on a plate with basil leaves around.
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5 from 1 vote

Pistachio Pesto

A very green pistachio pesto, made with pistachio nuts instead of pine nuts for a flavourful twist on classic basil pesto. Make it vegan or with cheese.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Sophie


  • 3 cups basil
  • cup shelled pistachios toasted is fine but avoid heavily salted
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast*
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil


  • Add the basil, pistachios, garlic, nutritional yeast (if using) and salt to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.
    3 cups basil, ⅓ cup shelled pistachios, 2-3 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast*, 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Blend until very finely chopped and well mixed. Add the olive oil in a slow stream while mixing, until the pesto looks creamy and very well combined.
    6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Serve immediately or transfer to a sealed container to refrigerate for a couple of days.


* Optional. You can also use ⅓ cup grated parmesan or asiago (vegan or vegetarian if needed).
For a spicy version, add some chili flakes to the pesto.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 78kcal

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