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Upgrade Pasta: 5 BEST Substitutes for Pesto Sauce

Pesto’s pretty great, right? It’s the go-to sauce that makes your pasta sing.

But here’s the twist – we’re moving beyond the basil and pine nuts.

Why stick to one flavor when the pasta world’s your oyster?

We’ve scoured kitchens and crossed spoons with chefs to bring you our top 5 rockstar alternatives.

Think creamy avocados, rich sun-dried tomatoes, and even some zesty surprises.

Sure, pesto’s cool, but these substitutes?

They’re about to take your pasta game from, “That’s nice,” to “Oh, wow, give me the recipe!”

Ready to give your noodles a makeover? Let’s dig in!

What’s Pesto Sauce?

Pesto sauce is a traditional Italian condiment made of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil.

Its origins date back to the 16th century in Genoa, where it was used as a table condiment as well as a spaghetti sauce.

It has a fragrant aroma, a creamy texture, and an assertive flavor from the ingredients in combination.

Pesto can be used to dress pasta dishes such as linguine or spaghetti, or it can be eaten with bread for dipping.

Additionally, pesto is delicious when stirred into soups or used to top bruschetta.

Finally, pesto is highly customizable and provides endless flavor combinations depending on what ingredients you choose to include.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Pesto Sauce

If you’re looking for a delicious way to top your pasta, pizza, or sandwich that isn’t pesto sauce, these five alternatives are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

1 – Basil Vinaigrette

Basil Vinaigrette is a delicious and light dressing that makes for a great food accessory.

Preparing this dressing requires only a few ingredients which include olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, and chopped fresh basil leaves.

The combination of olive oil, vinegar, and garlic gives the vinaigrette its tangy taste, while the basil lends an earthy flavor profile.

When it comes to texture, the vinaigrette is creamy and thick; it coats your meal nicely without becoming too heavy or overpowering.

A great way to substitute this delectable dressing for pesto sauce is in a salad- simply combine finely chopped tomatoes, grilled vegetables, and other greens with some basil vinaigrette and enjoy a nutritious dinner.

2 – Other Herb Oils

Herb oils are an excellent way to bring complex flavor and aroma to a dish.

Besides basil oil, there are several other herb oils that can be used for various applications.

One of the most popular is oregano oil, which has a potent Mediterranean flavor that works well with seafood.

Another option is rosemary oil, which adds a savory and earthy taste to vegetable dishes.

Even parsley oil can provide a fresh herbal pop to meat dishes or dressings.

Herb oils have a thinner consistency with a light texture, so they don’t overpower the subtle flavors of the food.

They can also be used as substitutes for pesto sauces when tossed over pasta, adding an interesting twist to traditional Italian-style meals.

3 – Avocado Sauce

Avocado sauce is a delicious, creamy, and flavourful condiment that has earned its rightful place in the hearts of many food lovers.

It’s easy to make with just a few ingredients – avocado, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice – blended together for a creamy texture and an unmistakable hint of citrus.

This sauce is surprisingly versatile; it can be paired with anything from eggs to tacos or used as a dip.

It’s even great as a substitute for pesto sauce in many recipes; all you need to do is add a handful of cilantro and some jalapeño peppers to give it an extra kick.

With its creamy texture and bright flavor, avocado sauce is sure to be your go-to condiment all year round.

4 – Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri sauce is a traditional Argentinian condiment made from parsley, garlic, oil, and white vinegar.

It is lively and zesty with a slightly acidic twang that comes from vinegar.

The finely chopped herbs provide an enticing texture which is only enhanced when blended with the smooth oil and juicy garlic.

Chimichurri works well as both a marinade for grilled meats and vegetables or as a condiment to spoon on top of your finished dish.

If you are missing pesto sauce, it can be substituted in equal amounts as it has similar notes of fragrant parsley and pungent garlic – perfect for stirring into pasta or drizzling over bruschetta.

5 – Use a Variety of Nuts

Using a variety of nuts to create pesto sauce can be an incredibly delicious and fulfilling experience.

There are so many different kinds of ingredients to choose from, such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and walnuts.

Creating pesto with these never-bland flavors can make all the difference in the dish.

Each nut is filled with rich flavor and provides a delightful mixture of creamy and crunchy textures.

Nut-based pestos also provide natural heart-healthy oils that give your meal an amazing aroma when cooking.

If you’re looking to switch up the classic pesto recipe without sacrificing taste, subbing out pine nuts for other types of nuts should do the trick.


In conclusion, pesto sauce is a classic Italian condiment that brings an unmistakable flavor to any dish.

If you’re looking for alternative options, there are several great substitutes at your disposal.

These include basil vinaigrette, herb oils, avocado sauce, chimichurri sauce, and a variety of nuts.

Depending on what kind of dish you’re preparing, each of these alternatives can provide an equally delicious and unique flavor profile to your meal.

So don’t be afraid to experiment and find the perfect pesto alternative for you.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Pesto Sauce

Searching for pesto sauce substitutes? Explore our curated list of the top 5 alternatives that capture the vibrant herbaceousness and savory richness essential for pesto-inspired dishes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Basil Vinaigrette
  • Other Herb Oils
  • Avocado Sauce
  • Chimichurri Sauce
  • Use a Variety of Nuts


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword Substitutes for Pesto Sauce
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