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How to Make Lightened-Up Pesto: A Recipe for Creamy Avocado Basil Pesto

Delicious Creamy Avocado Basil Pesto. This recipe uses avocado instead of olive oil to make the most delicious, healthy pesto with no added oil!

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
0 mins
Total Time
10 mins

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avocado basil pesto ingredient in a food processor

When I was little, my mom used to make pesto pasta for me all the time. In fact we had it so frequently that I grew to dislike it quite a bit. I know you’re probably wondering how that’s even possible, but it’s true. As I grew older I could never get back into it either until about a few weeks ago when I finally tried pesto again.

Here’s how the story goes:

My friend Sarah and I stopped to order sandwiches for a quick lunch where my entire reality changed and welcomed me to the world of pesto. Sarah asked for a side of it and naturally, I was curious as to how it would taste after 10+ years so I put it on my sandwich as well and…HOLY MOTHER OF PESTO! This is what I’ve been missing out on my entire adult life?! I should have given pesto more of a chance.

And now it’s my latest addiction! In fact I put it on pasta last week, slathered it on my morning toast with some extra avocado slices and ate it with hummus and carrots nearly every day. I might put it on everything until the end of time. Don’t try to stop me. Seriously don’t.

Apparently pesto calories add up quite quickly and although it’s packed with mostly healthy fats, I thought I’d do myself a favor and create a bit of a lightened up pesto without any added oil. Did you know that most pesto recipes call for at least 1/4 cup of olive oil? Instead I chose to use avocado for my healthy fat and to create the creamiest base. Just a few simple ingredients and you are on your way to pesto bliss people.

avocado basil pesto in a jar with a spoon

New to pesto? Here are some delicious ways to enjoy it:

  • Toss 1/4 cup in with some whole grain or gluten free pasta for an easy weeknight dinner. Add chicken for extra protein.
  • Stir into cooked quinoa and add a few cherry tomatoes for an easy weekday vegetarian lunch.
  • Spread it on toast and top with a few other extras like sliced tomatoes, avocado, sprouts and chia seeds
  • Use it as a sandwich spread for your grilled cheese; it’ll add a ton of flavor!
  • Toss in 1/2 cup spinach for extra nutrition!

Amazing recipes to use this avocado basil pesto:

Street Corn Pasta Salad with Cilantro Pesto & Goat Cheese

Pesto Tuna Caprese Cucumber Bites + video!

Roasted Veggie, Chickpea & Pesto Quinoa Salad

Healthy Pumpkin Seed & Avocado Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Avocado Basil Pesto Zucchini Noodles

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Lightened-Up Creamy Avocado Basil Pesto (no oil added)

4.78 from 9 votes
avocado basil pesto in a jar with a spoon
Course Condiments, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Sauce, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword avocado basil pesto, easy, homemade
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Serves 4
A lightened up pesto without any added oil! The secret is using an avocado to get a creamy texture that's unbelievable!


  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 large ripe avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons water, plus more if necessary
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • sea salt, to taste


  1. Add basil, avocado, garlic, pine nuts and lemon juice to a food processor and pulse for 20 seconds or until pesto is chopped. Add in water and process again until completely smooth. You may need to add more water to get it to your desired consistency; I like mine a little on the thicker side. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese.
  2. Store in an airtight container or sealed mason jar and refrigerate. Pesto is best if used within a few days, otherwise you can freeze it for several months. Makes 1 cup, or 2-4 servings depending on what it's used for.

Recipe Notes

Toss in 1/2 cup spinach for extra nutrition

You can omit the pine nuts, but I think they add a nice flavor.

Servings: 4 servings
Serving size: 1 serving (based on 4)
Calories: 108kcal
Fat: 9.4g
Carbohydrates: 3.7g
Fiber: 2g
Protein: 3.7g

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