Vegan Paleo Pesto Sauce (Whole30, Keto)

4 minute read

My favorite summertime treat, that is on a weekly repeat, is my sweet basil pesto sauce. Made with a combination of raw nuts, a whole lemon, and some robust EVOO, you have a sauce that is ah-mazing with everything you throw at it! I love to make this and have it available on those hot summer days for my family to snack on with some fresh, crisp veggies. And having this beautiful sauce on hand makes dinner a breeze with some fresh pasta and grilled salmon. I know that you will love this simple and fresh pesto sauce as much as we do!

How to Use Vegan Paleo Pesto Sauce

I love fresh pesto and this recipe is my favorite!  It is so simple, tasty, and I love that it’s made from all whole food ingredients and here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy this amazing pesto!

  • Toss with pasta or zoodles
  • Serve over Grilled Chicken
  • Serve over Grilled Fish
  • Toss with grilled veggies (asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, etc.)
  • Drizzle over Roasted Potatoes
  • Serve with a Caprese Salad
  • Serve with fresh veggie sticks as a dip
  • Use as a spread for sandwiches
  • Use as a spread for wraps
  • Make a grilled mozzarella and pesto sandwich
  • Make a fresh veggie and pasta salad
  • Use it on Pizza
  • Use it as a Salad Dressing
  • Add it to Soup for a fresh basil kick
  • Use it in Lasagne

You can see this long list can just go on and on with all the possibilities on how to use your Vegan Paleo Pesto Sauce.  You can’t go wrong anyway you enjoy it!

Why Basil and Lemons are So Good For You!


Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is part of the mint family and is used in many dishes from bolognese sauce to fresh pesto!  Sweet basil contains a compound called eugenol, which gives the basil its slightly clovey essence and is found to be a powerful antioxidant supporting health by reducing oxidative stress.  In studies, eugenol has shown to have a “radical-scavenging” type of activity [1] that reduces free radicals that are formed during metabolic processes or exposure to environmental toxins [2].  In addition to all these amazing antioxidant benefits, sweet basil contains fat-soluble vitamins A and K, and calcium.

  • Vitamin A (beta-carotene): A fat soluble vitamin that is a powerful antioxidant supporting healthy vision, immune function, cell growth, and brain function.
  • Vitamin K: Fat soluble vitamin that supports the body’s ability to form blood clots and is converted to vitamin K2 in the gut and supports healthy bones [3].
  • Calcium: The most abundant mineral in the body and is essential in maintaining health teeth and bones as well as heart, muscle and nerve function [4].


Lemons (citrus limon) are part of the Rutaceae family of flowering plants that originated in Asia and are used in so many dishes from fresh pesto to fresh lemonade!  Lemons are chock a block full of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and reduces oxidative stress reducing inflammation in the body.  In addition to being an essential ally in protecting our bodies against oxidative stress from both endogenous and exogenous sources, vitamin C plays a crucial role in supporting immune function and in wound healing [5].

In this recipe I add a whole lemon, rind and pith included due to the amazing health benefits from various compounds that you don’t get when just consuming the juice only. 

  • Citric acid: Increases the absorption of non-heme iron, supports energy metabolism and may be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of kidney stones.
  • D-limonene: A compound found in the rind or peel that has been shown to reduce and dissolve gall stones and has chemopreventative activities against several forms of cancer [6].  D-limonene has also been shown to reduce stomach reflux and heartburn.
  • Diosmin: An antioxidant that reduces inflammation, supports vessel health and blood flow.
  • Eriocitrin: An antioxidant found in the lemon peel and juice that plays a role in blood sugar regulation and a healthy cardiovascular system.
  • Hesperidin:  An antioxidant that supports vessel health, supports cardiovascular health and anti-inflammation.
  • Fiber:
  • Insoluble fiber: Works to keep things moving along and helps with toxin and waste elimination.
  • Soluble fiber: Soluble fiber works to support a healthy microbiome and supports healthy blood sugar regulation.

So grab some fresh sweet basil and tart lemons and let’s get cooking!

Vegan Paleo Pesto Sauce Ingredients

Makes about 16 ounces

1/2 cup Raw Cashews

1/2 cup Raw Macadamia Nuts

1/2 cup Raw Pine Nuts

1/2 cup Raw Pepitas/Pumpkin Seeds

1 tsp Fine Sea Salt

1/2 tsp Ground Black pepper

1/4 cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Whole Organic Lemon

3 Cloves Garlic

6-8 cups Fresh Basil Leaves

1 1/4 cup Unrefined Cold-Pressed EVOO

How to Make Vegan Paleo Pesto Sauce

1.  Rinse the lemon under cool water with a veggie brush or a veggie wash to get off any wax that may be on the rind.

2.  Cut the ends off of the lemon and leave about 30-50% of the rind on, the more you leave on the more lemonly your pesto will be.  Cut the lemon in half and remove the seeds and core, set aside.

3.  In a food processor add the nuts, lemon, lemon juice, garlic and spices and process on high speed until a thick mixture forms and most of the nuts have broken down. 

4.  Add the basil and process until it is roughly combined, it will be a little thick so you may need to stop and scrape a time or two. 

5.  Turn the processor on to low speed and slowly drizzle in EVOO until a creamy pesto comes together. 


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Q: What should I do if my pesto is too thick?

A: If your pesto is too thick, add some filtered water until it is at a consistency you like.

Q: How do I store any unused pesto?

A: Store it in an airtight container (I love mason jars for this!) in the refrigerator and use within 3-days.

Q: Can I use spinach in this too?

A: Yes! You can sub in any green you like: spinach, arugula, kale, or other herbs.

If you like this recipe, check these out!

Heirloom Peach Caprese Salad: Juicy, vine ripened heirloom tomatoes, sweet and tangy peaches, fresh mozzarella and sweet summer basil are in beautiful harmony in this gorgeous salad.

Simple Garlic Zoodles: Perfect al dente zoodles with fresh garlic and a little spice, even my 12-year-old loves them!

Classic Bolognese Sauce: This sauce is everything you are looking for in a slow simmered and hearty sauce, and it is full of nutrients from lots of veggies and bone broth.

I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does. – Amy

Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to the products and kitchen gear I love. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting Almond Milk and Cookies!


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Welcome to Almond Milk and Cookies where good food, health and lots of flavor go hand-in-hand!

I am a holistic nutritionist with an auto-immune disorder, a love of cooking, and a passion for holistic health.

Sharing what I make and eat with all of you…in hopes that you find inspiration here to fuel your body and feel your best with nutrient dense whole foods and clean eating.

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