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5-Minute Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto

Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto recipe using garbanzo beans instead of pine nuts. 5 minutes, 5 ingredients, and great on pasta, pizza, and veggies!

Ciao, amici! We have a delicious Italy-inspired basil pesto recipe with a twist for you that will make you forget that basil pesto is supposed to have nuts.

Nut-free chickpea basil pesto on a white plate on a wooden table with a napkin.

Do you LOVE pesto but avoid it because of a nut allergy or sensitivity? I feel you, we have a nut (and seed) sensitivity in our house so making homemade traditional pesto recipes has never really cut it. Pesto recipes with pine nuts cause itchy rashes and hives, so instead we make delicious and easy homemade pesto by using…chickpeas!

This 5-minute, 5-ingredient Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto recipe is an easy way to still enjoy Italian-inspired basil pesto without the nuts. It’s delicious on pasta, pizza, and drizzled over roasted veggies. Let’s do it!

What can I use in place of nuts in basil pesto?

I’ve tried many different nut substitutions in basil pestos over the years (I even did a food science experiment on a sunflower seed version while studying to become a dietitian). If you are able to eat seeds, sunflower seeds are a great alternative as they provide a bit of crunch like pine nuts. You may also like pumpkin or other squash/gourd seeds as well to provide a different texture.

If nuts and seeds are a no-go for you, I highly recommend both chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) or white cannellini beans. I personally prefer chickpeas because they mix well and make for a thicker pesto that sticks well to pastas.

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How can I make vegan, diary-free basil pesto?

This Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto recipe can easily be made vegan by omitting the parmesan cheese completely, or by substituting it with nutritional yeast. Amounts may vary, but I would start with 1 tablespoon and add more to your desired taste.

Can I make this nut-free chickpea basil pesto without oil?

Yes! If you’re searching for an oil-free basil pesto recipe, then look no further. You can omit the oil in this recipe and instead use a bit of water when mixing. Keep in mind that when the pesto ingredients are blended with water then they are more likely to separate after storage, so blend again quickly before serving leftovers to ensure the ingredients are mixed well.

Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto Variations

I’m a big fan of foundational recipes that can be tailored to what you have on hand, so here are a few ideas to build upon this nut-free pesto recipe and make it your own.

  • Add more herbs! Use cilantro, parsley, or oregano in place of (or in addition to) basil.
  • Add spices. Add cumin, red pepper, chipotle powder, or lemon basil to add a kick.
  • Add citrus zest. Add a zest of lemon, lime, or even orange, as well as a bit of citrus juice.

Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto: Tips, Tricks, and Tools. This basil pesto recipe takes only 5 minutes to make and only requires five ingredients, but does require a food processor, bullet, or blender.

Loving this Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto recipe? Try one of our other favorite herb-based globally-inspired sauces, like Caribbean mojo sauce and carrot top chimichurri. If you made this recipe, don’t forget to leave a comment and rating below and also tag your photos #FITRfood on Instagram!

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5-Minute Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto

Nut-free chickpea basil pesto on a white plate on a wooden table with a napkin.

Looking for an easy, nut-free basil pesto recipe? Look no further, this No-Nut Chickpea Basil Pesto recipe uses garbanzo beans in place of pine nuts. Safe for nut allergies!

  • Author: Kristina Todini
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: Sauces & Dips
  • Cuisine: Italy

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add basil, garlic, chickpeas, and half of oil in food processor and pulse until chopped.
  2. Add parmesan cheese, red pepper, and pepper and pulse, adding remaining oil (and more if needed) until well blended. Taste and add salt or more spices if needed.
  3. Enjoy on pasta, pizza, or over veggies!

Notes

Leftovers & Storage: Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. If ingredients start to separate, pulse in a food processor or blender to redistribute.

Variations: Make it vegan by omitting the the parmesan cheese and substitute with 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Make it oil-free by mixing with water. Experiment with different nut-free basil pestos by using white beans or, if you can eat seeds, sunflower or squash seeds.

Nutrition: This Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto recipe is a great source of calcium, a good source of vitamin A, and is  full of protein with the addition of chickpeas. A great nutrition addition to your next pasta or pizza recipe.

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*This recipe does not include additional salt because the parmesan cheese is very salt already. However, when taste testing add a small amount if needed to fit your desired flavor.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 240
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Sodium: 288mg
  • Fat: 18g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 13g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 12g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 10g
  • Cholesterol: 12mg

Nut-free chickpea basil pesto on a white plate on a wooden table with a napkin.

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Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto recipe using garbanzo beans instead of pine nuts. 5 minutes, 5 ingredients, and great on pasta, pizza, and veggies. #pesto #nutfree
Written by
Kristina Todini, RDN

Welcome! I'm a registered dietitian who believes that food should be good for you AND good for the planet. Join me in taking the "fork in the road" to eat green and live sustainably.

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27 comments
  • I love pesto but I do not love nuts in my pesto. I absolutely love the idea of adding chickpea to pesto. It is a great flavor enhancer and thickener. Love the variations to the recipe! So versatile.

  • I like the idea of using chickpeas in pesto in place of the nuts. I don’t have any problems with any of the traditional ingredients, but sometimes it is interesting to mix it up.

  • This is such a clever idea! I’ll have to pass it along to some of my friends with kids who have nut allergies.

  • I really like that you give so many options to make this recipe your own! Your pesto looks so much like a traditional pesto. I find pine nuts to be difficult to digest so this is a great alternative for me!

  • I LOVE pesto and have no allergies, but also really enjoy whipping up alternative pestos with different flavors. I think it’s awesome this one is made with chickpeas and I definitely want to try it!!

  • I love that you switched it up with the chickpeas! I can already think of so many recipes that this would be delicious in!

  • This is such a brilliant swap! My son goes to a nut-free preschool and I have about 10 pounds of garlic scape pesto in the freezer I can’t use because then he can’t take leftovers for lunch. I can’t wait to give this a try; he loves chickpeas!

    • Hi Joan, thanks for your question. Yes, pesto freezes well and there are many ways you can go about it. You can freeze it in an airtight jar or container, pour it into a plastic bag and lay flat in freezer (takes up less space and then just pull it out and thaw when needed). Or, my favorite way, pour the pesto into ice cube trays and then freeze the pesto cubes and drop them into soups or pastas when cooking. Easy!

  • I like the idea of using chickpeas instead of nuts in the pesto! I’m a college student and to say the least nuts (like pine nuts and walnuts) aren’t very cheep. Chickpeas sound like the perfect, economic substitution 🙂

    • I’m glad you think so! For me it was a matter of having to avoid pesto and other sauces with nuts because of a food sensitivity, so I started substituting other things like sunflower seeds and beans. Chickpeas has been my favorite substitute so far because they give it a nutty texture, but they’re also much cheaper than nuts as well (and still provide good protein). Let me know if you make the recipe!

  • This is delicious! A great pesto for those with tree nut allergies. In fact, it’s just plain good for anyone.

    • I’m so glad you liked it! I had been avoiding nuts for so long before I started experimenting with different nut-free pestos and this one is definitely my favorite. Thanks for leaving your review!

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