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This basil pesto salad dressing is a healthy and delicious take on a creamy vinaigrette. Ready in 10 minutes, you can use this recipe to add flavour to green salads, pasta salads, or grain bowls!

Pesto salad dressing stored in a glass jar.

Pesto is forever one of my favourite easy sauces to make at home. This recipe transforms pesto sauce into a delicious salad dressing, perfect for pairing with a number of dishes (I’ve included a list of serving ideas for inspiration).

As a dietitian, I love that this pesto vinaigrette packs in so many nutritious ingredients, like basil, hemp seeds, lemon, and olive oil. It’s a source of healthy fats, antioxidants, and (most importantly) plenty of flavour! I’d love to know what you end up serving it with 🙂

Want more healthy salad dressings? Check out my roundup of homemade dressing recipes for more inspiration. You will love my go-to balsamic vinaigrette or this maple dijon vinaigrette!

Recipe ingredient flatlay.

What is this pesto dressing made of?

  1. Fresh basil: Basil is the base of most pesto sauces! You are welcome to use half basil and half another baby leafy green, like spinach or kale.
  2. Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves work best here.
  3. Hemp hearts: I love using hemp hearts in place of traditional pine nuts in pesto. They’re nutritious and a fraction of the price! That said, you can easily swap them with other nuts or seeds – I’ve made pesto from walnuts, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds.
  4. Nutritional yeast: A pantry staple of mine, I love using nutritional yeast for a vegan/dairy-free version of pesto. Please note that nutritional yeast is different than active, baker’s yeast and you cannot swap one for the other. Nutritional yeast has a distinct yellow colour and cheesy flavour! If you’d prefer, you are welcome to use grated parmesan instead (I’d advise a parmigiano-reggiano for the best flavour!)
  5. Olive oil: We add more olive oil than in pesto sauce, to help make a runnier salad dressing.
  6. Red wine vinegar: The addition of vinegar is what takes this recipe from a pesto sauce to a salad dressing! I personally love the depth and tanginess of red wine vinegar, but you are welcome to use white wine vinegar if preferred.
  7. Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds more acidity to this dressing.

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

What to serve this dressing with?

This pesto based salad dressing pairs well with all sorts of salads! Serve it with:

  • pasta salads
  • grain based salads (like farro, quinoa, or couscous) or even with grain bowls
  • raw veggies – think ones like juicy, sweet tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and corn
  • roasted veggie salads – think roasted broccoli, roasted bell peppers, or roasted mushrooms
  • green-based salads, like arugula, baby spinach, or a spring mix
  • salads with stone fruits, like peaches or nectarines
  • salads (or grain bowls) topped with proteins, like salmon, shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, or chicken

Pictured below, you will find this pesto dressing served over my arugula burrata salad with corn + tomatoes!

Arugula burrata salad with tomatoes, corn, and pesto salad dressing.

How to make this vinaigrette

Recipe ingredients in a food processor, before blending.

Add all the ingredients to a food processor

Pesto salad dressing blended in a food processor.

…and blend until a creamy dressing forms! You may add more olive oil if you want a runnier dressing.

More recipes with pesto

Did you give this Pesto Vinaigrette Salad Dressing 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: Pesto Salad Dressing (Creamy Vinaigrette!)

This basil pesto salad dressing is a healthy and delicious take on a creamy vinaigrette! Ready in 10 minutes, you can use this recipe to add flavour to green salads, pasta salads, or grain bowls!
Pesto salad dressing stored in a glass jar.
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5 from 2 votes
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (you can use a standard 1oz or 28g container)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peels removed
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (or grated parmesan cheese)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 a lemon, juice only
  • Salt + pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a food processor. Blend until well-combined, adjusting seasonings to taste. You may have to scrape down the sides of the food processor, as needed, to help everything blend.
    TIP: If a thinner consistency is desired, add a splash of water or extra olive oil and blend again.
  • Store in an airtight container in fridge. See notes for serving ideas!

Notes

*STORAGE: This recipe will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
*INGREDIENT SWAPS:
  • Basil is the base of most pesto sauces! You are welcome to use half basil and half another baby leafy green, like spinach or kale.
  • I love using hemp hearts in place of traditional pine nuts in pesto. They’re nutritious and a fraction of the price! That said, you can easily swap them with other nuts or seeds – I’ve made pesto from walnuts, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Please note that nutritional yeast is different than active, baker’s yeast and you cannot swap one for the other. Nutritional yeast has a distinct yellow colour and cheesy flavour – perfect for a dairy-free/vegan option! If you’d prefer, you are welcome to use grated parmesan instead (I’d advise a parmigiano-reggiano for the best flavour!)
  • You are welcome to use white wine vinegar in place of red wine vinegar.
 
*SERVING IDEAS: This pesto based salad dressing pairs well with…
  • pasta salads
  • grain based salads (like farro, quinoa, or couscous) or even with grain bowls
  • raw veggies – think ones like juicy, sweet tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and corn
  • roasted veggie salads – think roasted broccoli, roasted bell peppers, or roasted mushrooms
  • green-based salads, like arugula, baby spinach, or a spring mix
  • salads with stone fruits, like peaches or nectarines
  • salads (or grain bowls) topped with proteins, like salmon, shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, or chicken

Nutrition

As a dietitian, I create recipes with whole food ingredients that provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. My nutrition philosophy does not focus on numbers; however, I understand that this information can be helpful.

Do note that the nutrition info provided is an estimate and I cannot guarantee correctness of the displayed values. These numbers will differ depending on brands used, recipe modifications, and amount eaten. If you require specific nutrition information due to medical reasons, please consult with your dietitian or physician.

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!

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Pinterest graphic for a pesto vinaigrette salad dressing recipe.
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