Instead, I made a pesto sauce with a slightly different twist. The recipe is simple and quick to prepare. The lemon flavor is by no means overpowering, so this version is just as good as the usual green pesto as a companion to pasta.

You will need for the recipe:

  • 1 pot of fresh basil
  • lemon
  • pine nuts
  • garlic cloves (chopped/crushed)
  • nutritional yeast flakes
  • light cooking oil, e.g. rapeseed oil
  • salt and black pepper

Tip: With the same recipe, you can make a regular green pesto if you just leave out the lemon.

What is pesto sauce used for?

The most common use for pesto sauce is seasoning cooked pasta. Mix the pesto into the pasta and serve as is. In this case, the pasta doesn't need any actual sauce, because the pesto brings flavor and moisture to it, because pesto contains a lot of oil.

Serve pesto pasta, for example with these Italian delicious rolls.

Pesto sauce can also be added on top of warm bread. Try it e.g. with these vegan "meatball bagels"..

What oil should you use for pesto?

Pesto instructions usually advise using Extra Virgin olive oil. However, depending on the quality of the olive oil, it may make the pesto taste either cloying or bitter. Especially when paired with lemon, the combination can be a bit too bitter.

Personally, I prefer to use either light olive oil (e.g. Bertolli Classico) or rapeseed oil.

Roasting the pine nuts

You should roast the pine nuts before making the pesto, as their taste only gets better by roasting.

Roasting is done by putting the pine nuts in a fairly hot pan without oil. Mix the seeds with the frying pasta so that they get an even golden brown color on all sides. This will only take a couple of minutes. Keep an eye on the seeds all the time, and be careful not to burn them too dark!

Making pesto sauce

The recipe itself is really straightforward to prepare. Remove the basil leaves and place them in the bottom of a blender/food processor.

Grate the lemon peel.

Add all other ingredients except canola oil on top of the basil leaves.

Lemon pesto ingredients

Grind the ingredients with a machine until the composition is smooth. Finally, add rapeseed oil, just a little at a time.

Making lemon pesto

Pesto sauce storage

Store the pesto sauce tightly covered in the refrigerator. Homemade pesto stays good for about 3 days. If you don't have time to use it right away, I definitely recommend freezing it (or part of it) soon after making it, while it's still fresh. Pesto sauce withstands freezing well.

Besides, it's always great if you can find homemade pesto sauce in the freezer!

Freezing lemon pesto

I use the smallest, 0.2 liter freezer bags (Amergrip Mini) for freezing. I dose each bag with only the amount of pesto sauce that I use at a time, about 2 tablespoons. When using pesto from the freezer, you can:

  • melt gently in the microwave (do not heat too much, so that the pesto does not "burn" to ruin)
  • melt under warm water
  • put on top of hot pasta as it is, so it melts on its own
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Vegan lemon pesto

vegan lemon pesto

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  • Author: almost vegan
  • Total time: 5 minutes
  • Portions: 2 dl 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Reseptin kuvaus

An easy vegan pesto flavored with lemon is suitable as a companion to pasta.


  • 2 dl fresh basil leaves (1 pot)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 dl pine nuts
  • 2 clove of garlic
  • 0.5 dl nutritional yeast flakes
  • 0.25 tsp salt
  • 0.25 tsp black pepper
  • 1 dl light cooking oil, e.g. rapeseed oil


  1. Toast the pine nuts in a hot pan for about 2 minutes until they are beautifully golden brown.
  2. Crush or chop the garlic.
  3. Place the basil leaves on the bottom of the blender.
  4. Grate the lemon peel.
  5. Add all other ingredients except cooking oil on top of the leaves.
  6. Grind the ingredients with a machine until the composition is smooth.
  7. Add cooking oil a little at a time and mix in between.
  • Prep time: 2
  • Cooking time: 3
  • Category: Sauces
  • Cooking method: In a pan
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: vegan pesto sauce, lemon pesto recipe

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