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This quick 20-minute zucchini pesto sauce recipe is vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and absolutely delicious. Raw, grated zucchini and fresh basil give this healthy homemade pesto sauce such a fresh taste and a generous serving of veggies in every bite. Serve it with pasta, grain bowls, as a spread, dip, and more!

Overhead photo of creamy vegan zucchini pesto in a small grey bowl.

It’s no secret that I LOVE all things pesto. It’s my go to sauce for just about everything – pastas, proteins, grain bowls, sandwiches…the list goes on. This zucchini pesto version is such a delicious twist on the traditional recipe and adds a generous serving of veggies to every bite!

This recipe is also such a lovely way to use up fresh zucchini (and to reap all it’s nutrition benefits). It truly gives this beautiful, fresh flavour to pesto and also helps to make the pesto more thick and creamy.

As a dietitian, I wanted to give an option that suits many dietary needs and preferences. This easy pesto recipe is vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free. I’ve also shared ways to make it nut-free, if needed.

PS. If you’re a pesto lover just like me, be sure to check out some of my other favourites:

Overhead photo of a white bowl of rigatoni pasta tossed in vegan zucchini pesto sauce.

Ingredients Needed

All you need to make this easy zucchini pesto pasta recipe are 6 simple, healthy ingredients:

Full ingredient measurements and detailed instructions are located in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!

Recipe Modifications & Ingredient Swaps

  1. This recipe calls for walnuts, but you can use other nuts like pistachios, almonds, or pine nuts instead.
  2. If you need a nut-free version of this recipe, simply swap the walnuts with a seed like pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds.
  3. This recipe is dairy-free and uses nutritional yeast for that “cheesy” flavour. That said, you can go the more traditional route and use freshly grated parmesan instead of nutritional yeast if you’d prefer!
  4. While I recommend using fresh basil, you are also welcome to throw in some other leafy greens here. I know that baby spinach, arugula, or baby kale work great in pestos! You could do half the basil and half another green, if desired.
  5. If you’d like to add a touch of lemon, it would work great here too!
Overhead photo of a wood cutting board with ingredients for cooking on top.

Do You Have To Cook Zucchini For Pesto?

Nope! This recipe uses raw zucchini. All you need to do is shred it in a food processor, squeeze out any excess liquid, and it’s ready to be blended into a yummy sauce.

Bonus – using raw zucchini makes this come together super quickly!

What Can You Use Pesto For?

  1. The obvious one is, of course, with pasta! Stir this sauce into any pasta shape, or use gluten-free pastas if needed. Feel free to stir in some extra veggies, like tomatoes or a handful of arugula.
  2. Pesto also tastes great with different proteins, like salmon, shrimp, chicken, or eggs (e.g. over scrambled eggs or a frittata).
  3. Add a scoop of pesto to your grain bowls or salads for an extra burst of flavour and some creamy, healthy fats.
  4. Use pesto as a dip or spread for sandwiches or open-faced toasts.
  5. Add it to homemade pizza, in place of tomato sauce.
  6. Serve in a small bowl and add to a charcuterie or cheese board

Is Pesto Vegan?

Traditionally, no. Pesto recipes usually contain a cheese, like parmesan.

This zucchini pesto pesto recipe, however, uses nutritional yeast as a vegan or non-dairy substitute for parmesan cheese. It has a lovely cheesy flavour, plus plenty of B-vitamins!

While I love me some freshly grated parmesan, I wanted to share a dairy-free option for those who need it. That said, if you’d like to make this with parmesan instead of nutritional yeast – you totally can 😉

What Can I Use Instead Of Pine Nuts In Pesto?

While pine nuts are traditionally used in pesto sauces, I personally love making pesto with other nuts and seeds! I find pine nuts particularly expensive at my local grocery store.

Here are some of my favourite swaps for pine nuts in pesto:

  • walnuts
  • pistachios
  • hemp seeds (hearts)
  • pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Can You Make A Nut-Free Pesto?

Yes! If you’d like to make a nut-free pesto, simply swap the walnuts in this recipe for either hemp seeds or pumpkin seeds. Both will work great 🙂

My Go-To Food Processor

Overhead photo of a large saucepan with rigatoni pasta tossed in zucchini pesto inside.

Zucchini Nutrition Benefits

Zucchini is rich in many micronutrients, like:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin K
  • vitamin B6
  • folate
  • manganese
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • copper

This summer squash is also a great source of dietary fibre, with one medium zucchini providing 2 grams or 8% of your daily fibre needs.

Like other fruits and veggies, zucchini is also a great source of antioxidants, especially carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin.

Overhead photo of creamy vegan zucchini pesto in a small grey bowl.

More Ways To Use Zucchini

Did you give this Creamy Vegan Zucchini Pesto Recipe a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!

If you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or Pinterest – seeing your creations always makes my day. You can also subscribe to my email list to never miss a new recipe or nutrition education post!

Get the Recipe: 20-Minute Zucchini Pesto Sauce (Vegan)

This quick 20-minute zucchini pesto sauce recipe is vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and absolutely delicious. Raw, grated zucchini and fresh basil give this healthy homemade pesto sauce such a fresh taste and a generous serving of veggies in every bite. Serve it with pasta, grain bowls, as a spread, dip, and more!
Overhead photo of creamy vegan zucchini pesto in a small grey bowl.
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Ingredients

Instructions

  • Wash, dry, and remove the hard ends of the zucchini.
  • Using the shredding attachment of your food processor, shred zucchini.
  • Remove shredded zucchini with a spoon and place it into the center of a paper towel. Gently squeeze out any excess water.
  • Switch to the regular blade of your food processor. Place shredded zucchini inside along with all other ingredients. Blend until smooth, adjusting seasonings to taste.
  • Remove pesto from food processor and serve as desired!

Notes

*STORAGE: leftovers of this pesto recipe will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5 days.
*NO FOOD PROCESSOR? While a food processor is the most efficient way to make this pesto, you can try making it in a blender as well. Simply grate the zucchini by hand and add all ingredients to a high-powered blender. If it’s having some trouble blending, try adding a bit more olive oil or even a splash of water.
*SERVINGS: this recipe will make about 4 servings if stirring the sauce into pasta. If using it in smaller ways (such as a sandwich spread or adding a small scoop to a grain bowl), you will get more servings out of it!
*WAYS TO USE THIS PESTO:
  • The obvious one is, of course, with pasta! Stir this sauce into any pasta shape, or use gluten-free pastas if needed. Feel free to stir in some extra veggies, like tomatoes or a handful of arugula.
  • Pesto also tastes great with different proteins, like salmon, shrimp, chicken, or eggs (e.g. over scrambled eggs or a frittata).
  • Add a scoop of pesto to your grain bowls or salads for an extra burst of flavour and some creamy, healthy fats.
  • Use pesto as a dip or spread for sandwiches or open-faced toasts.
  • Add it to homemade pizza, in place of tomato sauce.
  • Serve in a small bowl and add to a charcuterie or cheese board
 
*RECIPE MODIFICATIONS:
  • This recipe calls for walnuts, but you can use other nuts like pistachios, almonds, or pine nuts instead.
  • If you need a nut-free version of this recipe, simply swap the walnuts with a seed like pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds.
  • This recipe is dairy-free and uses nutritional yeast for that “cheesy” flavour. That said, you can go the more traditional route and use freshly grated parmesan instead of nutritional yeast if you’d prefer!
  • While I recommend using fresh basil, you are also welcome to throw in some other leafy greens here. I know that baby spinach, arugula, or baby kale work great in pestos! You could do half the basil and half another green, if desired.
  • If you’d like to add a touch of lemon, it would work great here too!

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know by leaving a recipe rating below, or by tagging @walderwellness on Instagram. I love seeing your beautiful creations!

Pin it for later:

Pinterest graphic for a creamy vegan zucchini pesto recipe.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.