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. Check out this incredible Focaccia Chicken Pesto Sandwich!

Basil pesto in a mason jar on the counter

Sunflower seed pesto sauce

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Nut Free Basil Pesto Sauce Recipe

Fresh basil pesto without using walnuts or pine nuts. 
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
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. 

For more flavor ideas, check out this garlic and herb chimichurri sauce. It’s amazing.

You can also try the pesto with different herbs. Excess mint makes a great pesto as well as spinach or lots of other herbs. And you can even make garlic scape pesto. It’s amazing!

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    1. Hi! I’m sure it can be. I don’t know anything about canning though, so I don’t have any safe or good advice. Thank you for checking it out though.

  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.

    1. Thank you! I do eat a lot of seeds. There are so many nutrients in nuts that we need, some of them are available in seeds. They are a good substitute.

    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!

  2. 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.

    1. That’s a great idea. I think I might try to grow some inside this year. I have seen several people mentioning it.

    1. Thank you. If you want to try it, I will be glad to give you some basil! I know you have connections to get it, but I have a ton of extra. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Recipe: Basil-Parsley Pesto & Bacon Pasta | Pineapple Sage
  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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.

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

    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!