Fresh Pesto Sauce Recipe (without nuts!)

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This nut free pesto sauce recipe can be used as a dip, a topping for bread, a sauce for pasta and so much more. It’s absolutely delish! Tastes like summertime. And a great way to use excess herbs from the garden!

nut free pesto sauce in a jar and basil growing in the garden

It’s a great homemade flavoring that you can make yourself so much better than store-bought. And it can easily be turned into a meatless meal for dinner in no time flat! Or a dinner with meat! For all the best homemade dressing, dip, and sauce recipes check this out.

Nut Free Pesto

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? Make nut free PESTO!

basil plants growing in the garden

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 nut free 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.

sunflower seeds roasting in a skillet
blender with roasted sunflower seeds, thai peppers, garlic, basil, parmesan cheese for nut free pesto sauce

Pesto without pine nuts

To use pesto as a pasta sauce, just cook your pasta, top with the 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.

Nut free pesto can also be used on crostini, as a dip for fresh garlic bread, as a pizza sauce, as a sandwich spread and so much more.

Basil pesto in a mason jar on the counter

Sunflower seed pesto sauce

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Nut Free Basil Pesto Sauce Recipe

Fresh basil pesto without using walnuts or pine nuts. 
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Seasoning Mix
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: basil pesto, nut free pesto, pesto sauce
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


  • 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. 

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    1. 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!

  1. 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.

  2. Pingback: Recipe: Basil-Parsley Pesto & Bacon Pasta | Pineapple Sage
  3. I’ve made pesto with walnuts, but obviously that’s not good for nut allergies. Sunflower seeds…awesome idea!

    1. 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 🙂

  4. 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.

    1. I had a LOT of overgrown basil and cut back a wheelbarrow full out of the walkways. It was crazy. Even though it had flowered, it still made a great flavor and I was glad to not waste it. I tried the sunflower seeds because it’s an ingredient a lot of people would have on hand, including me. It turned out great!