Fresh Pesto Sauce Recipe (without nuts!)

If you’ve never had pesto sauce, you’re in for a real treat. This is an amazing pesto sauce recipe that can be used as a dip, a topping for bread, a sauce for pasta and so much more!  The garden grows an inordinate amount of basil in the summer and this is a great way to use it to make a delicious sauce.

Fresh Pesto Sauce Recipe (without nuts!)

I am working on harvesting some of our garden surplus like the herbs that we haven’t used up and we had a ton of basil. I harvested two pounds of basil leaves from the walkways in the garden. Man did I smell good! What to do with all this basil? PESTO!

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Fresh Pesto Sauce Recipe (without nuts!)How to make pesto sauce without pine nuts

I am allergic to nuts and I don’t know if I will react to pine nuts or not so I wanted to come up with a pesto I could eat too, so I decided to roast up some sunflower seeds to use in place of the pine nuts. I used 1/4 a cup of seeds and toasted them lightly in a skillet.

Fresh Pesto Sauce Recipe (without nuts!)

Fresh Pesto Sauce Recipe (without nuts!)

Fresh Pesto Sauce Recipe (without nuts!)

Fresh Pesto Sauce Recipe (without nuts!)

To use pesto as a pasta sauce, just cook your pasta, top with desired amount of pesto and mix well. It’s a gorgeous sauce for pasta. It tastes so fresh and nourishing. My kids love this dish. 

This pasta sauce freezes great too so you can have fresh pesto pasta all year round. Just put it in a jar, leaving room for it to expand and set it in the freezer. 


Fresh Pesto Sauce Recipe (without nuts!)

Pesto sauce recipe for pasta

Fresh Basil Pesto Sauce Recipe (without nuts)
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins

Fresh basil pesto without using walnuts or pine nuts. 

Servings: 8
Author: Christina
  • 2 c basil leaves washed and removed from stems
  • 1/4 c sunflower seeds
  • 1 thai pepper
  • 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 c olive oil
  1. Place sunflower seeds in a pan and toast on medium heat until they smell amazing. 

    Place in blender with basil, thai pepper, parmesan cheese, and garlic.

    Blend well.

    Drizzle in olive oil until you get a sauce consistency. 

The kids loved this pasta and it was super healthy.

For information on how to dry herbs, click here

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Fresh Pesto Sauce Recipe (without nuts!)

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  1. That’s a pretty clever way to make pesto for those who have nut allergies. I can hardly imagine a day without nuts – so I expect I’d be eating sunflower seeds by the hands full.

  2. says:

    Will definitely give this a take to soon.

  3. Robin Stoddard says:

    I have a huge sunflower right out front on harvesting it???

    • I was told to let it dry on the stalk if you can. Birds were eating all of ours, so we cut the heads off and are drying them on screens. Once the back turns black and crunchy, you can work the seeds out of the head. We had to cut ours with a saw because they were HUGE!

  4. Lisa Johnson Cowell says:

    I have only made pesto a couple of times with walnuts. I don’t have a nut allergy, but am allergic to pine, so just stay away from the pine nuts, just in case. I have sunflower seeds, so I thought I would run out and make this right now…and then I remembered, I forgot to plant basil this year! I usually have a dozen different varieties to sell at farmers market, but for some reason, I totally spaced on it this year. I am going to have to start some and see if I can get it to live inside during the winter.

  5. Leslie Reynolds says:

    Wow! Yummy..

  6. […] reading about a nut-free, homemade pesto sauce at Little Sprouts Learning, I felt inspired to try my hand at making this classic Italian staple. […]

  7. Andrea says:

    I’ve made pesto with walnuts, but obviously that’s not good for nut allergies. Sunflower seeds…awesome idea!

  8. Great minds think alike. I just posted our basil saving tips last night! I’ll have to try your sunflower seed version.

  9. Sharon says:

    Now, I would really like to try and make this….pinning.

  10. Yavonna says:

    great job , your kids are learning so much.

  11. This recipe sounds wonderful … never thought of not making it without the pine nuts

    • I’ve never had pesto because I didn’t want to die, but now I can make it for myself. Good solution. I don’t know what pine nuts taste like, but it’s delicious with sunflower seeds. Someone should make both and describe the difference to me. He he 🙂

  12. I love homemade pesto! Adding sunflower seeds is a great idea.

  13. chris says:

    This sounds great! I have so much basil that I would like to use, so I’ll definitely keep this recipe in mind 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  14. Two pounds of basil must be an enormous amount! I’ve never tried sunflower seeds. Good idea. Your pesto looks delicious 🙂

  15. Terri Lowell says:

    I’m gonna have to try this, and soon! 🙂

  16. Mmm. I love the sunflower seed idea for pesto!

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