Skinny Walnut Basil Pesto (Video)

Healthy Skinny Vegan Pesto! A slimmed-down, vegan version of traditional basil pesto.

Slimmed-Down Vegan Pesto

I’ve been working on two healthy summertime recipes for you: this Slimmed-Down Pesto – otherwise known around here as Vegan Pesto (I’m fairly certain it answers to both names) and Oil-Free Pesto (which I will post in a few weeks).

A Healthier Pesto

Traditional pesto is full of oil – which is a refined food and can lead to weight gain and other health problems.  Most pesto is also very high in calories. This Healthy Skinny Vegan pesto saves you an average of 60 calories and 5 grams of fat (per 1/4 cup serving).  And it is cholesterol-free!

If you want to make it even lower in fat, you can replace 2 tablespoons of the oil with 2 tablespoons vegetable broth.

How to Easily Make Healthy Skinny Vegan Pesto

Watch this video and see how easy it is to make pesto.

Is Pesto Good for You?

Pesto is a very nutritious food – especially when made with less oil like this one. Here’s why:

Basil is a rich source of orientin and vicenin – phytochemicals that help neutralize disease-causing free radicals in the body.

Garlic has been shown to boost the immune system and lower cholesterol.  Click here for more information about the benefits of garlic.

Walnuts are loaded with antioxidants, omega-3s, manganese, and many other essential nutrients that protect the heart, promote good brain function, and help with weight loss. Click here for more information about the slimming effects of walnuts.

Vitamins – A 1/4-cup serving of this healthy pesto gives you 15% of your daily needs for vitamin A and 10% vitamin C.

Healthy Swap

Because this pesto is high in many nutrients, including monounsaturated fats, replacing butter with this healthy pesto can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.  And using this pesto instead of a cream sauce over pasta can do the same. Since pesto is a rich, full-of-flavor condiment, you can often use less and not sacrifice flavor.

For more delicious recipe makeovers that allow you to eat your favorite food and still lose weight, check out my Weight Loss Program.

What to Serve with Healthy Skinny Vegan Pesto

Pesto is the perfect condiment for many types of sandwiches – especially tomato sandwiches.

Stir a teaspoon of pesto into your tomato soup.

Replace fattening pasta sauce with this rich and nutritious pesto.

Top steamed veggies with pesto to add flavor to otherwise boring vegetables.

Vegan Pesto

Skinny Walnut Basil Pesto

A slimmed-down, vegan version of basil pesto.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Condiment
YIELD 0.5 cup (approximately)
All recipes on are property of jennifer’s kitchen and cannot be republished without written permission.


  • 2 cups (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt - or to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • Place basil, walnuts, garlic, and salt in food processor and process until coarsely ground.
  • With motor running, add olive oil in a thin stream.
  • Add lemon juice and pulse to mix. Serve immediately.


Yield: 1/2 cup

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How do you like to eat pesto?

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  1. What a great video. You guys sure are fun. Very creative. I didn’t grow basil this year but will try this with kale instead. Keep it up.

  2. I am anxious to try your pesto recipe! I’d like to be able to enjoy it all winter long– can I freeze it? Thank you….Diane

    1. Hi Diane,

      Yes, this pesto can be frozen. Just as with all pesto, it has a tendency to turn a little brown on the areas exposed to air. You can prevent this by drizzling a small amount of oil over the surface before freezing.

      I hope you enjoy! : )


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