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Easy Cashew Pesto

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This easy cashew pesto takes only 5 minutes to make and can be used in so many ways. Toss it with pasta, add it to a soup, spread it on a sandwich – the possibilities are endless. Made with fresh basil, cashews, garlic and parmesan, this pesto adds amazing fresh flavour to any meal!

Cashew pesto in a white bowl with half a lemon in the background

Are you drowning in an abundance of basil from your garden? In the summer, I usually keep a basil plant in a sunny spot on my front porch, so I’m always looking for ways to use it up. This recipe is great for using up basil, because it calls for two packed cups.

What I really love about this recipe is the use of cashews instead of the more traditional use of pine nuts. Pine nuts are crazy expensive at my grocery store and there’s no way I’m going to get through the giant bag from Costco. I usually have cashews in my pantry anyway, and they bring a creamier texture to the pesto. Trust me, it’s good.

Ingredients

  • Fresh basil
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Cashews – I used raw, but I’m sure roasted will work just as well!
  • Lemon juice – freshly squeezed
  • Fresh garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Water – optional, for adjusting consistency

How to make it

Step one: Process ingredients (except oil) into a paste

  • Add all ingredients except the olive oil to the food processor, and process into a paste, scraping down the sides as you go, if necessary.
basil leaves, parmesan, garlic cloves, cashews, salt and pepper in a food processor

Step two: Drizzle in the olive oil

  • While the food processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil through the hole in the top of the food processor. Let it run until well combined.
  • Adjust consistency by adding small amounts of water (if desired, see tip below)
  • Adjust flavours to suit your taste (see tips below)
cashew pesto in a food processor

Variations

How to adjust the consistency: The recipe as written makes more of a paste consistency. If you prefer a runnier pesto, add one tablespoon of water at a time to the food processor, until you reach your desired consistency.

How to make it vegan: if you need a vegan option, replace the parmesan cheese with three to four tablespoons of nutritional yeast. You may also want to increase the salt a bit, because the parmesan added quite a bit of salty flavour.

How to adjust the flavours: if you need more overall flavour, add salt. If you find the garlic flavour a bit strong, I find adding a bit more lemon can offset the “bite” of the garlic. And if you want more bite and want to ward off vampires (ha!), add another garlic clove.

a spoonful of cashew pesto held above more pesto in a white bowl

How to store it

In the refrigerator

If you’ll be using it all soon, store in a sealed container or mason jar in the fridge. Use it within a week.

In the freezer

Use an ice cube tray to freeze the pesto into cubes. Once frozen, pop them out and store them in a freezer bag (don’t forget to label it with a date!). You can store frozen pesto for up to 6 months.

Use it in these recipes

cashew pesto in a white bowl

Easy Cashew Pesto

Laura Lawless, BASc
This easy cashew pesto takes only 5 minutes to make and can be used in so many ways. Toss it with pasta, add it to a soup, spread it on a sandwich – the possibilities are endless. Made with fresh basil, cashews, garlic and parmesan, this pesto adds amazing fresh flavour to any meal!
5 from 3 votes
Servings 16 tablespoons (Makes 1 cup)
Calories 60
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • water (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Add the basil, parmesan cheese, cashews, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper to the food processor, and blend until a paste starts to form.
  • While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until ingredients are well combined. Scrape down the sides as you go, if necessary.
  • Adjust seasoning and consistency, if desired (see notes below). Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator and eat within a week. See post for freezing instructions.

Notes

How to adjust the consistency: The recipe as written makes more of a paste consistency. If you prefer a runnier pesto, add one tablespoon of water at a time to the food processor, until you reach your desired consistency.
How to make it vegan: if you need a vegan option, replace the parmesan cheese with three to four tablespoons of nutritional yeast. You may also want to increase the salt a bit, because the parmesan added quite a bit of salty flavour.
How to adjust the flavours: if you need more overall flavour, add salt. If you find the garlic flavour a bit strong, I find adding a bit more lemon can offset the “bite” of the garlic. And if you want more bite and want to ward off vampires (ha!), add another garlic clove.

Equipment

Food Processor
Dry Measure Cups
Measuring Spoons
Spatula

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1tablespoon | Calories: 60kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 121mg | Potassium: 30mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 185IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg
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I’d love to hear from you!

Portrait of Laura Lawless in a green sweater standing in front of white shelving filled with food photography props.

Hey, I’m Laura!

Creator of The Recipe Well


I love food and cooking, but hate doing the dishes. I use my nutrition degree to create easy, approachable recipes that will help you find your happy place in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I just made this recipe. Was lazy so just eyeballedthe measurements. It came out excellent. Best I’ve ever made. I think cashews are the way to go.

  2. Sadiya Ahmed says:

    Would it be ok to make this in a blender?

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      I think it would be fine! I would pulse the blender while you add the oil. You want to be careful not to over blend, because you’ll lose the nice pieces of basil and cashew.

  3. Hi! How long does it lasts in the fridge?

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Hi Maria, it will last up to a week in the fridge in a sealed container. I would freeze it if you want to store beyond a week. I’ll add storage details to the post, thanks for the prompt!

  4. 5 stars
    I enjoy pesto but this was my first time making it. The cashews are a nice twist. I added about 1/2 Tablespoon more of lemon juice and a pinch more salt. I didn’t need the water.

    I just read you have a nutrition degree. I suspect your recipe is on the healthier side than most pesto recipes.

    Thank you for posting Laura! It’s a keeper and a go to recipe for me.

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Thank you for the lovely review, Bobi! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      1. 5 stars
        Thank you Laura! Update – After letting it sit in my frig for a few hours and the flavors married, I made a turkey and Swiss sandwich on sourdough with mayo and this pesto. Absolutely amazing!

        Again, Thank you for the recipe!