White Bean Pesto (Oil-Free)

by Alena

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 Ingredientspin it

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 walnutpin it
top view of a blender jar with homemade green oil-free pestopin it

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 tablepin it
table with parchment paper and freshly baked plant-based cauliflower potato crust pizza with arugulapin it

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 pestopin it

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.

oil-free pesto in a glass jar on a chopping board next to basil and garlic

White Bean Pesto (Oil-Free)

Yield: 4
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.

Ingredients

  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves (42g)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach (30g)
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • ⅓ 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

  1. Put the cannellini beans, water and lemon juice into a food processor. Pulse and blend to obtain a creamy mixture.
  2. 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.
  3. Adjust to taste preferences by adding more salt, lemon juice, garlic or nutritional yeast.
  4. 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!
  • Find more tips in the article above.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: ¼ recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 211Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 164mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 7gSugar: 1gProtein: 14g

Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically, their accuracy is not guaranteed. Just focus on whole plant-based foods and eat until satiety!

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Alena sitting in a cafe with a bowl of fresh plant-based food and a glass of coffee in front of her

About Alena Handwritten FontAlena Schowalter is a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work. Alena enjoys discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature and creating new recipes.

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