Red pepper pesto is possibly one of the most flavorful pestos you’ll ever try. Made with jarred roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes, this red pesto packs a punch.
It’s rich, creamy, tangy, and nutty. Serve it as a red pesto sauce with pasta, or as a spread on bread or in a sandwich. We keep this recipe vegan so that everyone can enjoy it.
To learn more on this topic, check out our guide on how to make vegan pesto + 9 pesto recipes.
Red pepper pesto is perfect for a quick and easy meal that you can put together in no time.
You can make the pesto in a food processor or in a blender with really simple ingredients, and virtually no cooking. It’s going to take you literally 5 minutes from start to finish.
You can then use the pesto as a delicious pasta sauce, as a spread on bread or in a sandwich, and even as an appetizer served as a dip. If make it with pasta, for instance, you’re going to have a delicious and healthy dinner made from scratch in less than 20 minutes.
Also, we decided to keep this red pepper pesto dairy-free and replace the parmesan cheese with nuts and nutritional yeast. The nuts make the pesto not only creamy and tasty but also healthy and nutritious. The nutritional yeast adds cheesy notes that remind us of traditional pestos.
Since it keeps well for up to 5 days in the fridge (and up to 6 months in the freezer) this is a perfect make-ahead/meal prep recipe to keep in the fridge for those weeks when you want a tasty and healthy meal, but have no time to cook it.
Red peppers: we recommend using jarred roasted bell peppers. This way you want to have to cook them and peel them and you’ll make this pesto in a breeze. However, you can of course roast the bell peppers yourself if you want to.
Sun-dried tomatoes: we recommend using sun-dried tomatoes that are preserved in oil because they are easier to blend and produce a creamier pesto. If you use “dry” sun-dried tomatoes you’ll have to add more oil to the blender to make sure they turn into a creamy pesto.
Pine nuts: they are optional, but we like adding them in to recall the flavor of authentic Italian pesto. Also, pine nuts add a creamy texture and a distinctive flavor that we absolutely love in pesto recipes.
Nuts: walnuts and almonds are our favorites for red pepper pesto and we use them interchangeably depending on what we have in our pantry. Nuts in general are super healthy and this is a good way to eat more of them. Other nuts that work well here are cashews and macadamia.
Nutritional yeast: it works so well in pesto, and a couple of tablespoons go a long way to recreate a pleasantly cheesy flavor. We think that combined with almonds or walnuts, nutritional yeast is the perfect parmesan replacement. We even made a vegan parmesan recipe with it.
Olive oil: you can use regular olive oil or extra virgin olive oil. We generally go for extra virgin because it’s healthier. It has more antioxidants compared to most other oils. If you want to make red pepper pesto oil-free, substitute water for oil.
Garlic: a key ingredient in most pesto recipes. We add a small clove but feel free to add more garlic cloves based on your taste.
Salt: necessary to bring all flavors together, especially because there’s no parmesan (which is very salty).
Water: to get the blender going. You can technically make this pesto without water, but you’d have to increase the amount of oil. Add more or less water based on how thin or thick you want your pesto to be. My advice is, to make a thinner pesto if you want to use it as a dip or to drizzle on other foods (like roasted vegetables). Make it thicker if you want to use it as a spread (like in a sandwich).
Peel and cut the garlic in half lengthwise and remove its core if any. We remove the core of the garlic to make it more digestible.
Add garlic, almonds, pine nuts, salt, and nutritional yeast to a food processor and blend for about 1 minute until you have a coarse flour.
Add jarred red peppers (drained well), sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained well), olive oil, and water.
Blend for a minute or two, adding more water if necessary, until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust for salt if necessary.
If you’re wondering how to use red pepper pesto (besides a pasta sauce), you can use this recipe just like any other pesto:
- As an easy starter with bread, crackers, or veggie sticks
- As a quick lunch: spread it on a baguette and with roasted veggies and slices of marinated tofu inside
- As an easy dinner served on healthy plant-based protein such as vegan fish, vegan schnitzel, or air fryer tofu
Pesto is a colorful way to add healthy fats and vibrant sauces to any meal. It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and a great lazy vegan recipe too.
Pesto is an easy way to dress a chickpea pasta salad, add creaminess to a bowl of pasta, and serve as a colorful appetizer with veggie sticks. It’s also a handy way to get more veggies into your diet, take a peek at our selection:
- Arugula pesto: a healthy and deep green sauce that works well in potato salad and couscous salad
- Artichoke pesto: perfectly creamy and mild, great for pasta and roasted potatoes
- Chestnut pesto is a luxurious pesto perfect for winter when chestnuts are in season. It pairs well with spaghetti and roasted mushrooms and is cozy, and scrumptious
- Sun–dried tomato pesto free from pine nuts and with healthy fats – it’s a great dip served with focaccia or toasted bread
- Parsley pesto is perfect as a sauce for air fried and roasted vegetables such as asparagus and artichokes
- Zucchini pesto is a fresh summer pesto. It’s a perfect condiment for barbecues to drizzle on roasted veggies and main dishes
How do you prefer to serve pesto? We’d love to hear from you, let us know in the comments below!
Store red pepper pesto in a jar in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can add a thin layer of oil on top to prevent it from drying out.
If you want to store it for longer you can freeze it. To do so, transfer the pesto to a jar or to an ice cube tray and freeze for up to 6 months.
Thaw red pepper pesto in the fridge overnight before using it as a spread. If you want to use it for pasta, then you can melt the frozen pesto in a bowl with 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.
More dip recipes
If you’re also a fan of serving dips and sauces with your meals, take a look at these creamy and easy recipes:
For many more starter ideas, check out our starters category page.
Red Pepper Pesto
- Food processor or blender
- 1 small garlic clove
- ⅓ cup almonds (or walnuts)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup jarred roasted red bell peppers drained
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Peel and cut the garlic in half lengthwise, remove its core, if any, and add the clove to the food processor.Note: the core of the garlic can be hard to digest; we remove it to have a lighter pesto.
- Add almonds, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, and salt.
- Blend until you get a finely coarse texture (1 minute).
- Add red peppers (drained well), sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained well), olive oil, and water.
- Blend for a minute or two, adding more water if necessary, until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust for salt if necessary.
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