This pesto salad dressing is a simple way to add zesty Italian flavor to your favorite greens. Made with fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese, this vinaigrette has a bright and tangy flavor that pairs perfectly with salads, grilled vegetables, or pasta dishes. Whip up a batch in just a few minutes and enjoy a homemade dressing that will take your salads to the next level!
There’s something about homemade dressings that just makes every salad taste better. Like homemade ranch or Caesar dressing, this pesto salad dressing is no exception. Made with fresh ingredients like basil, garlic, and parmesan cheese, it’s a simple yet flavorful addition to any salad or vegetable dish. Plus it’s a great way to use up leftover pesto!
This egg-free dressing is incredibly easy to make – all you need is a food processor and a few basic ingredients, and you’ll have a delicious and versatile pesto vinaigrette that can be used in a variety of recipes. The pine nuts add extra texture and complete the pesto flavor, but are an optional ingredient. Pesto pairs well with many vegetables. So whether you’re looking for a quick and easy lunchtime salad like a pesto chicken salad, or toss in with roasted asparagus for a flavorful side dish, this pesto salad dressing will add a zesty interest to your meal.
How to make pesto vinagrette
- Blend fresh basil leaves, grated parmesan cheese, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor or blender until finely chopped.
- Slowly pour in olive oil while blending, then add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to one week and shake well before use.
Key ingredients & substitutions
- Basil leaves – Fresh basil leaves are the highlight of this dressing recipe. Basil gives a subtle sweet, peppery flavor and has trace notes of mint, anise and clove. If you don’t have fresh basil, you could use another fresh herb, such as parsley, cilantro, or mint, or a combination of herbs. However, keep in mind that this will change the flavor of the dressing.
- Parmesan cheese – Fresh grated parmesan cheese makes the best pesto! If you don’t have parmesan cheese on hand, you could use a different type of hard, salty cheese, such as pecorino Romano or asiago. If you are dairy free or vegan, use nutritional yeast, which has a similar umami flavor.
- Garlic – Use fresh cloves of garlic. Garlic powder (1 teaspoon) could be used in a pinch.
- Pine nuts – These are optional but do compliment the pesto flavor and provide texture to the dressing. If you don’t have pine nuts or are allergic to them, you could substitute another type of nut, such as walnuts, almonds, or pistachios.
- Olive oil – A healthy neutral flavored oil perfect for Italian dressings and vinaigrettes. Grapeseed oil or avocado oils are other neutral-tasting oils that can be substituted; however, they will change the flavor the salad dressing.
- Lemon juice – Fresh lemon juice is ideal for this pesto vinaigrette; however, bottled lemon juice will work. Another type of acid, such as red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, will help provide an acid balance if lemon juice can’t be used.
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Pesto Salad Dressing Ingredients
Pesto Vinaigrette Directions
Pulse the flavor
In a food processor or blender, combine basil leaves, grated parmesan, garlic and pine nuts (if using). Pulse to combine until finely chopped.
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoon pine nuts, optional
Make it a dressing
With the food processor or blender running, slowly pour in olive oil. Add lemon juice, salt & pepper and pulse to combine. Store in a mason jar or dressing container. Shake well before use.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper