White Bean Pesto (Oil-Free)

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by Alena Schowalter
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This 5-minute oil-free pesto is packed with flavor and protein thanks to creamy white beans and lots of basil! Use it as a quick and delicious sauce, dip or spread.

We love creating healthier versions of traditional food! Whether it’s fluffy oil-free hummus, tofu ranch or cashew sour cream — these nutritious condiments make any food taste so much better.

This bean-based oil-free pesto is full of flavor, much lower in calories and higher in protein compared to traditional pesto, and can be used in so many ways!

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It definitely deserves a spot in your weekly rotation as it’s great for meal prep and requires only a handful of accessible ingredients.

You will be really surprised by how creamy this oil-free pesto is and see it quickly disappear at any potluck or garden party!

Find more oil-free vegan sauces, recipes with pesto and high-protein meals on our website. 

Vegan Bean Pesto In Jar with Ingredients

Recipe overview

  • Ready to enjoy in only 5 minutes
  • Low in fat & protein-packed
  • Flavorful & nutritious
  • Meal prep-friendly and easy to make
  • Versatile and freezable

Keep on reading to find out what’s needed to make this creamy oil-free pesto.

Ingredients needed

  • Cannellini beans — our favorite base but peas also work
  • Garlic — what’s a good pesto without garlic?
  • Basil — our favorite herb to make pesto.
  • Spinach — adding more greens & nutrients!
  • Walnuts — for the healthy fats.
  • Hemp — optional to boost nutrition even further!
  • Nutritional yeast — parmesan replacement for the cheesy flavor.
  • Lemon juice — brings everything together and adds freshness.
  • Salt & pepper — adjust to taste preferences!

Since this is a bean-based pesto, you need a blender or food processor to make it! Other than that, only measuring equipment is needed.

top view of blender har with beans, greens and walnut
top view of a blender jar with homemade green oil-free pesto

How to make oil-free pesto

  1. Blend the beans with lemon juice and water into a puree.
  2. Add the remaining components: basil, spinach, garlic, walnuts, nutrition yeast, hemp seeds, salt and pepper.
  3. Blend until smooth, adding more water or a splash of soy milk if needed.
  4. Adjust to taste preferences with more salt, garlic, nutritional yeast or lemon juice.
  5. Use immediately or store in an airtight container!

Storage & serving suggestions

This oil-free pesto can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months. Be sure to use an airtight container if you don’t want your refrigerator to smell garlicky!

Use it to make high-protein pesto pasta, pasta salad, serve it with vegetable noodles, replace tomato sauce when making pizza (top with almond ricotta!), spread it on bread or sandwiches or add the pesto to casseroles!

We also like topping our vegan bowls with this pesto or using it any way we would use hummus.

black bowl of homemade vegan pesto pasta with vegetables on a table
table with parchment paper and freshly baked plant-based cauliflower potato crust pizza with arugula

Tips & FAQs

This oil-free pesto tastes best if you make it a couple of hours in advance and let it sit in the fridge.

Over a couple of days, the pesto may lose some color and become dull. However, it’s still flavorful!

If you use it for pesto pasta, add some cooking water to make it more like a sauce.

Adjustments

  • Cannellini beans: use navy beans, great northern beans or green peas instead.
  • Spinach: replace with more basil, arugula or steamed broccoli.
  • Walnuts: use pine nuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds instead.

Feel free to add a spritz of olive oil or add more nuts and seeds if you want to make a higher calorie protein-rich pesto!

For a different flavor, add sun-dried tomatoes to your pesto.

table with halved lemon and a white bowl with homemade pea pesto

More easy vegan condiments

If you liked our quick oil-free pesto, try this goodness next!

Did you make our oil-free pesto and like it? Be sure to leave a rating and comment below! You can also Pin this recipe here.

White Bean Pesto (Oil-Free)

by Alena Schowalter
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
This 5-minute oil-free pesto is packed with flavor and protein thanks to creamy white beans and lots of basil! Use it as a quick and delicious sauce, dip or spread.
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 garlic clove roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves 42g
  • 1 cup fresh spinach 30g
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • cup walnuts 35 g
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 cup cooked cannellini beans 260g, drained
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Put the cannellini beans, water and lemon juice into a food processor. Pulse and blend to obtain a creamy mixture.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and process until well incorporated. Add more water or a splash of soy milk if needed to obtain a homogeneous, creamy texture.
  • Adjust to taste preferences by adding more salt, lemon juice, garlic or nutritional yeast.
  • Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days!

Notes

  • You can use navy beans, tofu or peas instead of cannellini beans.
  • Make this recipe nut-free by adding sunflower seeds to the pesto!
  • For a less pungent flavor, use garlic powder instead of raw garlic or roast the garlic clove before using it.
  • Find more tips in the article above.
Course: Condiments
Cuisine: Italian
Nutrition Facts
White Bean Pesto (Oil-Free)
Amount per Serving
Calories
211
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
9
g
14
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
8
g
Sodium
 
164
mg
7
%
Carbohydrates
 
23
g
8
%
Fiber
 
7
g
29
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
14
g
28
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically, their accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Hi, I'm Alena Schowalter — a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with my husband, I founded nutriciously in 2015 and have been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages toward a healthy plant-based diet. I enjoy discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature, and creating new recipes. Read more about us here.

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