This homemade Cashew Pesto is a highly nutritious homemade pesto bursting with fresh flavors and vibrant green color that is ideal when pairing with pasta, fish, poultry, and other types of meat.
It's a traditional basil pesto made with your choice of nuts. Here I love to use either toasted cashews or pine nuts.
My favorite way to use this pesto - Air Fryer Tilapia With Pesto.
The toasted cashews in this pesto have rich flavor and creaminess while the parmesan cheese adds to the decadence. While this pesto calls for minimal ingredients, it’s definitely one that will impress the family and guests!
There are so many of you, different readers, here at the Yummy Bowl - some of you like to get straight to the recipe ingredients and instructions, and some of you love reading the full information with tips and tricks that I provide for the recipe.
There is a skip to recipe button in the top left corner along with a clickable table of contents list (just below) that will quickly take you to the part you are more interested in. Enjoy!
Why It's Yummy
- This creamy pesto is a nutrient-rich sauce that’s perfect for anyone following a vegetarian diet or looking for healthier homemade condiments.
- Basil pesto from scratch. Making your own pesto means that you get to control the ingredients used and can easily whip up a fresh batch whenever needed.
- It’s a refreshing change to other sauces and complements many dishes such as pasta, seafood, and poultry.
My few comments on the ingredients + don't forget to read the Tips section!
The full recipe and ingredients can be found in the recipe card below this post.
- Fresh herbs- use lots of basil leaves for the best taste, they’re the star ingredient of this pesto. That said, you could also use rocket/arugula or even baby spinach as a tasty variation. A little cilantro addition would work well here too.
- Cashews - the toasted cashews add another rich depth of flavor to this pesto. You can either purchase toasted nuts or roast cashews yourself (in a dry pan or oven). Cashews or pine nuts are preferred for their creaminess and flavor but any other nut will be fine too: Walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts.
- Parmesan - grating your cheese from a block instead of using pre-shredded cheese will also yield a better taste and texture in food. Vegan pesto - If you’d like to make this pesto vegan-friendly then use vegan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes instead.
- Lemon juice - Juice freshly squeezed from a lemon is always my first choice. It also helps to balance the rich flavors in this pesto recipe.
- Olive oil - always use quality olive oil (just a good true and tried brand, doesn't have to be an extra virgin oil) for homemade condiments.
- Garlic - I’ve used fresh garlic cloves for this pesto but pre-minced garlic or even garlic powder will also work. While I love the use of garlic in this pesto, be careful that you don’t overdo it otherwise it can overpower the other flavors in the pesto.
Add all ingredients into a high-speed blender or food processor and pulse until creamy smooth.
Add the olive oil gradually, first pour in about ¼ cup and increase until ½ cups (depends on desired consistency you want to achieve).
For example, if this cashew pesto is used for pasta, make pesto as it is and thin it out with cooked pasta water - makes wonders.
Season the pesto with a little salt and black pepper while blending. You may not need to add more as the parmesan is quite salty.
Transfer everything to a bowl or sealed jar and use immediately or store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.
Serve this pesto in your favorite pasta, for fish, poultry, and meats.
This recipe makes about 1 cup of pesto which is enough for 2-3 servings with pasta along with some boiled pasta water.
- You can add in more or less olive oil while blending the pesto ingredients to achieve the consistency desired. The amount of oil called for in this recipe will yield a reasonable thickness.
- The parmesan cheese is already quite high in sodium so you won’t need to add too much salt and pepper. It’s best to taste to test as you blend, adapting as required.
- If you are making pasta to serve with this cashew basil pesto, serve some of the starchy pasta water - it makes a fantastic thickener that you can add to your pesto for a thicker consistency!
- If you are toasting raw cashews for this pesto, make sure that they are completely cool before adding them to the blender with the other ingredients.
- Fresh basil is particularly reactive to heat, turning a blackish color when in contact with heat. This is just something to note when working in the kitchen with your fresh ingredients. If you intend adding some fresh chopped basil as a garnish to a dish such as pasta, do so only when serving each plate instead of mixing it in with the ingredients (i.e. pasta) in a hot pan/skillet.
- If you are serving a larger crowd, you can easily double this cashew basil pesto. Any leftovers will be good for up to a week in the fridge.
- Potato Salads
- Most of pasta dishes, pasta salads - just swap the sauces and dressings in those dishes to this Basil Cashew Pesto.
- Sauce for fish and poultry
- as a dipping sauce
Freezing And Storing Instructions
Store this cashew pesto properly sealed in a glass container for up to 2-3 days in the fridge or for 2-3 months in a freezer bag in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
I don't recommend making big batches of pesto as its great flavor comes a lot from its fresh ingredients.
Is this cashew basil pesto vegan-friendly?
As it is, no, although you could easily turn this delicious pesto sauce into a vegan condiment by omitting the Parmesan cheese and using a vegan cheese instead.
No, you don’t. I’ve purchased toasted cashews for this cashew basil pesto. That said, if you want to keep this pesto as raw as possible and boost the nutritional factor then go right ahead and soak raw cashews for this recipe.
I'd soak the cashews overnight for best results. It will produce a creamy texture and flavor in the pesto which will be super delicious.
It’s not bad in the sense that it’s a hazard to consume but pesto that is heated will certainly change color, texture, and taste which is why it’s not advisable to ever heat pesto.
If you decide to add pesto to pasta, only add the pesto to warm pasta instead of heating it in a hot pan of pasta. The warm pasta will be enough to warm the pesto without changing any of its properties.
Easy Appetizer Recipes
I hope you'll enjoy this Cashew Pesto recipe, please leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo of your food and tag me on Instagram @theyummy_bowl. I love seeing your creations!
Thank you for reading,
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves medium
- ½ cup toasted cashew
- 3 oz parmesan grated
- 1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- ½ cup good quality olive oil
- Add all ingredients into a high speed blender or food processor and pulse until creamy smooth.
- Add the oil gradually, first pour in about ¼ cup and increase until ½ cups (depends on desired consistency you want to achieve).
- Season the pesto with a little salt and black pepper while blending. You may not need to add more. Transfer everything to a bowl or sealed jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Serve this pesto in your favorite pasta, for fish, poultry and meats. This recipe makes about 1 cup of pesto Which is enough for 2-3 servings with pasta along with some boiled pasta water.