Paleo Pesto Recipe

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Summer is here (it feels so good to say that!) and in my house that means one thing — Basil Pesto.

You might remember we talked about it last year at the end of the summer when I posted my Lightened Up Basil Pesto. I grew basil plants all summer just to make homemade pesto for my husband’s birthday dinner.

This year I am being a bit more realistic about what I am capable of growing in my Western-facing-yet-tree-covered house so I am stocking up on basil at farmers markets and supermarkets. It’s not such a bad thing because they all have plenty of it.

Since our eating has changed so much in the past year and my standby pesto is loaded with yummy Parmesan cheese, I decided to create a Paleo Pesto Recipe based on my traditional Basil Pesto.

The secret ingredient here is 1 Tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Just enough to add that umami flavor but not enough to overwhelm the basil, garlic, pine nuts or oil.

This Paleo Pesto freezes great so feel free to double or even triple the batch. You will be seeing many uses for it on here soon :)


  • Make sure you use the freshest garlic possible. If you cut into the garlic cloves and see a vein of green, the garlic may be bitter in your pesto.
  • I usually store homemade pesto in small mason jars. Think of this like Guacamole – the less air, the better. Fill the jar or container to the very top, immediately cover and refrigerate or freeze for later. When you use some, use a piece of wax paper to press down on the top and limit air exposure.
  • Toast the pine nuts by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Place the pine nuts in one even layer and cook 4 to 5 minutes, turning and tossing frequently.

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Paleo Pesto Recipe
Makes just shy of a cup or approximately 15 Tablespoons. 2 Points Plus Per Tablespoon.
Serves: 15
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup raw pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 small or 1 large clove of garlic (see NOTES)
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in the bowl of a food processor or blender
  2. Process until smooth and slowly add in olive oil.
  3. Transfer finished pesto to storage jars or serve and Enjoy!

Paleo Pesto Recipe from

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  1. Margot says

    Instead of the wax paper I add a layer of olive oil to exclude the air. Every time you remove the pesto from the jar, either tip out the oil in to a container to add to the top again or incorporate it with the pesto to add to your pasta. Make sure you wipe down the sides of the jar before adding another layer of oil as any residue of pesto will turn nasty and could effect the remaining pesto when you use it next. Nice pun on the can-didate EverydayMaven. 😉

  2. Lori says

    Can this be canned? I think this would make great gifts at Christmas (a little taste of summer in the winter!)

  3. says

    This looks great! Going to try it next time I can get some basil from the farmers market. My aunt turned me on to nutritional yeast earlier this year because she eats mostly vegan. I actually really like the taste as a substitute for things where I’d otherwise sprinkle parmesan cheese. I wouldn’t have thought of putting it into pesto, though! Whole Foods makes a great vegan pesto with fresh spinach and basil that they sell in the store-made refrigerated area that I really like. Can’t wait to try this.
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    • EverydayMaven says

      Spinach or Kale are great pesto add-ins. They also help to keep your pesto bright green, which is an added bonus. I LOVE nutritional yeast. Especially on coconut oil popped popcorn – my occasional super-treat!

  4. says

    Nice take on pesto! I do like the cheese, but when I’m freezing it I make it without and freeze – then mix cheese in when I’m ready. Fortunately we can grow basil, but it’s easy to buy great quality at this time of the year, so maybe I should devote garden space to something else. Fun recipe – thanks.
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    • EverydayMaven says

      I used to do the same thing with the cheese. This version is nice because you don’t even have to worry about adding anything in!

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