Creamy pesto with white beans is the perfect pasta sauce or healthy dip that is packed full of flavor and is so easy to make!
Made with just 7 ingredients, this homemade white bean pesto is ready in 5 minutes and is naturally vegan, gluten free, dairy free and nut free! You are going to be making this recipe on repeat once you try it!
3 reasons to love this recipe
- You are not going to believe how creamy this dairy free pesto gets! The white beans make it thick and creamy!
- Great way to use up basil when the garden is over-producing! This white bean pesto can also be used as a dip (like hummus) and is perfect for dipping veggies in or spreading on a wrap or a sandwich to add a ton of flavor!
- White bean pesto dip is perfect for summer parties or cookouts! It can withstand being out in the heat and would also be great in pesto pasta salad! It’s naturally dairy free, vegan and gluten free so it’s great to serve a crowd!
- Fresh Basil
- White beans (cannellini, great northern white beans, navy beans)
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Garlic powder
How to make white bean pesto
Step 1: Pick the large stems out of the basil. Add the basil to the food processor with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic powder. Blend well about 1 minute.
Step 2: Add the spinach to the food processor and process until completely broken down.
Step 3: Rinse and drain the white beans. Add the rinsed white beans to the food processor and process on high about 1 minute (scrape down the sides if needed).
Step 4: Test the pesto for consistency. It should be thick (but it will continue to thicken as it sits). If you want to thin it out, add a few tablespoons of water at a time until it reaches your preferred consistency.
Tips on making the best pesto
- This vegan white bean pesto is best if allowed to sit in the fridge for 4-5 hours before serving. It gets thicker and creamier as it sits in the fridge. If you are making for guest, you could even make it the day before.
- If you are going to use this over pasta, be sure to reserve about ½ cup of the cooking liquid from the pasta before draining the pasta. After you add the pesto to the noodles, slowly add about 2-3 tablespoons of the water at a time to the pasta, stirring well. This will emulsify the pesto and help it stick to the pasta better.
- Pesto can tend to lose it’s bright color after 1-2 days in the fridge. The flavor is still there but the vibrant green can get a little dull. If you are serving this to guest, you will probably want to make it within 24 hours of the gathering.
- Make extra and freeze it for later! You can freeze pesto in ice cube molds so you can pull out a few tablespoons at a time as needed. These pesto cubes are great for adding flavor to soups, stews, spaghetti sauce or to up the flavor of roasted veggies or eggs!
Ways to use this white bean dip
This creamy white bean pesto can be used like you would traditional pesto or use it as a dip just like hummus.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use it:
- On pasta, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles as a sauce
- Drizzled on top of roasted veggies after cooking
- Stirred into rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice for a flavorful side dish
- Mixed into meatballs or poured on top
- As a dip for fresh veggies, chips, crusty bread
- On sandwiches, pitas, wraps or burgers
- On pizza
- On scrambled eggs
- You could also make a dressing from this pesto by adding more olive oil and lemon juice
What are other veggies you could add
- Steamed broccoli
- Roasted or Steamed cauliflower
- Green peas (will make it sweeter and thicker – you may need to add a few tablespoons of water)
What kind of white beans to use
White beans are great for this creamy dairy free pesto recipe because they are naturally buttery and break down really easily in the food processor. I love using white beans to make soups creamy and thick without dairy as well! They are very versatile.
You can use any of these white beans to make this pesto:
- Cannellini beans
- Great northern white beans
- Navy beans
Fridge: Store the pesto in the fridge up to 5 days in a well-sealed container. If you are serving this to guest, you will want to serve it in the first 24 hours so the color is the best.
Freezer: Store pesto in the freezer for up to 3 months in a well-sealed freezer safe container. I like to freeze pesto by first freezing it into 2 tablespoon cubes (using a silicone tray). Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer safe bag, being sure to indicate the date to use by and amount in each cube. Defrost the cubes on the counter, in the microwave or in the fridge overnight.
Note: the texture of the pesto will change slightly with freezing, so I would not recommend using it as a dip after freezing.
White beans: This recipe uses white beans to make it thick and creamy. You could also use steamed potatoes in place of the beans to keep it bean free.
Lemon juice: Lemon juice really helps to balance out the basil and break down some of the spinach. If you don’t have lemon juice you could use 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar.
Garlic powder: This recipe uses garlic powder in place of fresh garlic. I find that fresh garlic can quickly overpower a pesto and is sometimes difficult to mince into small enough pieces (meaning someone is gong to bite down on a large chunk at some point). Because of this, I like to use garlic powder. You could use 1-2 cloves of well minced garlic in place of the garlic powder.
If you love pesto, try these other recipes
Recipes to use your pesto with
White Bean Pesto$5.49 recipe/$1.37 serving
- 2.5 oz fresh basil - $2.49
- 1 medium lemon, juiced - $0.42
- 2 tbsp. olive oil - $0.44
- 1 tsp. salt - $0.05
- 1 tsp. garlic powder - $0.10
- 2 cups baby spinach - $1.00
- 1 can white beans (15 oz can) - $0.99
- Remove the basil leaves from the thick stalks. Add basil to the food processor.
- Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and garlic powder to the basil in the food processor. Process on high about 1 minute to break up the basil well.
- Add the spinach to the food processor and process on high about 1 minute to incorporate the spinach with the basil.
- Rinse and drain the can of white beans. Add the drained white beans to the food processor and process on high 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Test the texture and consistency of the white bean pesto. It will continue to thicken as it sits. If you want a thinner sauce, add water 1-2 tbsp. at a time and process again until you have the right consistency.