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Dairy Free Fresh Basil Pesto

Jan 26, 2015

Ok, so I have been making this dairy free basil pesto with macadamia nuts for quite some time now. I stumbled upon it by accident and the story goes a little like this.  Living in Hawaii is great, like I can go for afternoon swims every day great, however when it comes to traffic…not so great! I was all set driving home with my groceries and realized I forgot to buy parmesan and pine nuts, yes very essential to pesto in my mind.  But not wanting to go back out into the chaos known as Hawaii afternoon traffic and not end up back home till practically midnight, I decided to be resourceful and use what was in my kitchen.

Enter macadamia nuts, my all time favorite because they taste like butter, yes you all know how I feel about butter and macadamia nuts don’t have that harsh nut flavor to them so I absolutely love them!  So I played with this pesto for quite some time and finally ended up perfecting it.  Yes, there are pine nuts in the recipe after all but the secret really is toasting the nuts before adding them to the pesto.  This gives a wonderful, rich flavor to the pesto and takes the place of the parmesan cheese for those of you who are dairy free! Macadamia nuts are also very low in phytic acid, making them a good choice when it comes to nuts.

I usually try to keep a batch of pesto in my refrigerator as it can make for a gourmet meal in just a few seconds.  Everything seems better with pesto, and its so colorful I just can’t resist.  My favorite way is to add it to fried eggs in the morning or add a smear to my grain and nut free sandwich bread or fluffy white rolls with a dollop of goat cheese.  You can use it to make spaghetti squash lasagna…Or you can be like me and eat it by the spoonful!

The options are endless.


Dairy Free Fresh Basil Pesto



  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Spread nuts out on a baking sheet. Toast the nuts for 5-6 minutes or until fragrant and golden brown, watching carefully so they don’t burn.
  • Allow the nuts to cool for a few minutes.
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor or in a bowl, using an immersion blender.  Blend for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides and blending for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Serve pesto with eggs or spread a spoonful over freshly baked grain free rolls.
  • Store remaining pesto in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Tips & Tricks

I prefer to make this pesto using a bowl and immersion blender as I think it takes less clean up and also doesn’t waste as much pesto during the process.

Comments +

  1. Kelly Smith

    January 27th, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    This looks absolutely wonderful because your photos are of course GORGEOUS! 🙂 I can’t wait to give this a try. We love macadamia nuts – so buttery – what a great idea to add them to pesto! xo

  2. Michele Spring

    February 3rd, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Yum, macadamia nuts in pesto sounds really delicious! Now if I could just find fresh basil in the winter in Colorado (that tastes like basil, not like the inside of a plastic container). I sure get spoiled from having a garden in the summer with as-fresh-as-you-can-get food!
    Completely enjoying your gorgeous photos both here and on your Instagram feed!

  3. Caroline Potter

    February 4th, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Thank you Michele! Thankfully I can always get basil here in Hawaii but I agree its best when its fresh 🙂

  4. Katherine

    February 8th, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Beautiful shots! This looks really good, Caroline!

  5. janice

    June 25th, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Can you freeze pesto..

  6. Caroline Potter

    June 25th, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    I know some people do freeze pesto, but I never have because I always eat it up!

  7. 3 Ways To Dress Up Your Avocado Toast - CommuniKait

    September 18th, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    […] I topped it with a poached egg and some macadamia nut pesto. Recipe for dairy free mac-nut pesto here. I will warn you – two pieces of this toast will fill you up to the max. I had portioned out […]

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