This homemade Cashew Pesto is made with simple ingredients and within 10 minutes. Serve it in your favorite pasta dish, bake pesto chicken fillets, in a grilled cheese sandwich, salads, or make bruschettas.
The roasted cashews in this pesto have rich flavor and creaminess while the parmesan cheese adds to the decadence. While this pesto calls for minimal ingredients, it’s definitely one that will impress the family and guests!
Skip your traditional go-to tomato sauce-based pasta and make restaurant-quality pesto pasta instead. Kids love green pasta!
Why We Love This
- This creamy cashew pesto is a nutrient-rich sauce that’s perfect for anyone following a vegetarian diet or looking for healthier homemade condiments.
- Making your own pesto means that you get to control the ingredients used and can easily whip up a fresh batch whenever needed.
- It’s a refreshing change to other sauces and complements many dishes such as pasta, seafood, and poultry.
- Try our Pesto Potato Salad or Baked Pesto Chicken made with this pesto.
- Fresh herbs - use lots of basil leaves for the best taste, they’re the star ingredient of this pesto. That said, you could also use rocket/arugula or even baby spinach as a tasty variation. A little cilantro addition would work well here too.
- Cashew Nuts - the toasted cashews add another rich depth of flavor to this pesto. You can either purchase toasted nuts (I prefer unsalted cashews) or toast cashews yourself. Cashews or pine nuts are preferred for their creaminess and flavor but any other nut will be fine too: Walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and peanuts.
- Parmigiano Reggiano - or honestly any other type of hard cheese that is similar. PRO TIP: Grating your cheese from a block instead of using pre-shredded cheese will also yield a better taste and texture in food. Vegan pesto - If you’d like to make this pesto vegan-friendly then use vegan parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes instead. You may need to adjust other ingredient amounts to achieve the ultimate best flavor to match your taste buds accordingly.
- Lemon juice - I'd stay away from bottled lemon juice. Juice freshly squeezed from a lemon is always my first choice. It also helps to balance the rich flavors in this cashew pesto recipe.
- Olive oil - always use quality olive oil (just a good true and tried the brand, doesn't have to be an extra virgin oil). What I'd recommend is not using a very bitter-flavored olive oil, it will just not work here and ruin the flavor.
- Garlic - I’ve used fresh garlic cloves for this pesto but pre-minced garlic or even garlic powder will also work. While I love the use of garlic in this pesto, be careful that you don’t overdo it otherwise it can overpower the other flavors in the pesto.
For the full list of ingredients, please scroll down where you'll find the recipe card.
Add the oil gradually, first pour in about ¼ cup and increase until ½ cups (depends on desired consistency you want to achieve).
Season the cashew pesto with a little salt and black pepper while blending. You may not need to add more. Transfer everything to a bowl or sealed jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Serve this pesto with a little lemon zest in your favorite pasta, for fish, poultry, and meats.
This recipe makes about 1 cup of pesto, which is enough for 2-4 servings with pasta along with some boiled pasta water.
- The parmesan cheese is already quite high in sodium so you won’t need to add in too much salt and pepper. It’s best to taste to test as you blend, adapting as required.
- You can add in more or less olive oil while blending the pesto ingredients to achieve the consistency desired. The amount of oil called for in this recipe will yield a reasonable thickness.
- If you are toasting raw cashews for this pesto, make sure that they are completely cool before adding to the blender with the other ingredients.
- If you are making pasta to serve with this cashew basil pesto, serve some of the starchy pasta water - it makes a fantastic thickener that you can add to your pesto for a thicker consistency!
- Fresh basil is particularly reactive to heat, turning a blackish color when in contact with heat. This is just something to note when working in the kitchen with your fresh ingredients. If you intend to add some fresh chopped basil as a garnish to a dish such as pasta, do so only when serving each plate instead of mixing it in with the ingredients (i.e. pasta) in a hot pan/skillet.
- If you are serving to a larger crowd, you can easily double this cashew basil pesto.
- Varieties of this pesto: cashews give the creamiest and smoothest result but a very similar texture can be achieved also with almonds, and walnut.
- You can also make spinach, cilantro, or kale pesto by subbing the basil in this recipe.
Freezing and Storing Instructions
I don't recommend making big batches of pesto as its great flavor comes a lot from its fresh ingredients.
This pesto serves about 2-4 if served with pasta and pasta water.
- A kid's favorite. Make a simple basil pesto pasta with spaghetti, fettuccine, or short pasta. Mix in some sun-dried tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, or zucchini. And if your kid is older, I like to add red pepper flakes when serving.
- Potato salad
- Most pasta dishes - use this pesto in my Zesty Italian Pasta Salad instead of the olive oil dressing, delicious with the sausage!
- Sauce for fish and poultry
Frequently Asked Questions
No, you don’t need to soak cashews. I’ve purchased toasted cashews for this cashew basil pesto. That said if you want to keep this pesto as raw as possible and boost the nutritional factor then go right ahead and soak raw cashews for this recipe. I advise that you soak the cashews overnight for best results. It will produce a creamy texture and flavor in the pesto which will be super delicious.
As it is, no, although you could easily turn this delicious pesto sauce into a vegan condiment by omitting the Parmesan cheese and using a vegan cheese instead.
Thank you so much for reading about this cashew pesto recipe. Please feel free to comment with any questions you may have! I love reading your feedback.
Easy Appetizer Recipes
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10-Minute Easy Cashew Pesto
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves medium
- ½ cup toasted cashew
- 3 oz parmesan grated
- 1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- ½ cup good quality olive oil
- Add all ingredients into a high-speed blender or food processor and pulse until creamy smooth.
- Add the oil gradually, first pour in about ¼ cup and increase until ½ cup (depends on desired consistency you want to achieve).
- Season the pesto with a little salt and black pepper while blending. You may not need to add more. Transfer everything to a bowl or sealed jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Serve this pesto with a little lemon zest in your favorite pasta, for fish, poultry, and meats. This recipe makes about 1 cup of pesto Which is enough for 2-3 servings with pasta along with some boiled pasta water.