This easy artichoke pesto recipe with 5 simple ingredients brimming with lemony, buttery flavor for a delicious vegan, nut-free condiment with no added oil ready in 10 minutes.
If you love eating steamed artichokes or never miss the opportunity for fresh tomato and artichoke pasta, here's another delicious recipe featuring artichoke hearts.
The flavor and texture of lemon artichoke pesto make it a great option as a gluten-free pizza sauce for crispy quinoa pizza crust, an alternative dressing for creamy Italian pasta salad, or mixing with spaghetti for a quick pesto pasta dish with tomatoes.
Table of Contents
📋 Recipe Ingredients
Artichoke hearts. Use a can of artichoke hearts in water or a light brine. Avoid those packed in oil or with other added flavors. You can also find artichoke hearts frozen. Thaw, then carry on.
Sunflower seeds. I use toasted pine nuts in sun-dried pesto rosso, but sunflower seeds add a nutty flavor that complements artichokes. If you want to stay nut-free, use hemp or flax seeds as a substitute.
Lemon juice. Add a little lemon zest for a brighter flavor if you use a fresh lemon. Otherwise, add at least 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
Garlic. Classic pesto benefits from the sharp flavor of fresh garlic – and plenty of it. You can use garlic powder in a pinch, but it won’t have the fresh, zesty flavor you’ll get from garlic cloves.
Fresh Parsley. Fresh herbs give the pesto a vibrant color and flavor. Use either flat-leaf parsley or curly, which is a bit more peppery. Add a few fresh basil leaves and stems if you want a more traditional basil pesto flavor.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
📖 Recipe Variations
I don't normally add vegan parmesan cheese to this recipe, but you can most certainly use it. Add ½ a teaspoon of miso paste or a tablespoon of nutritional yeast for a more pronounced umami flavor.
⏲️ Step-by-Step Instructions
Step 1: Add the sunflower seeds to the food processor. Pulse a few times to break up the seeds, then add the rest of the ingredients.
Step 2: Blend until smooth. Scrape the sides of the food processor a few times as you blend.
🔪 Pro Tips
- A food processor works best for making pesto recipes, but a blender easily does the job.
- Chop the garlic into quarters or mince it before blending. This ensures you don’t have large, unblended chunks.
- Canned or frozen artichoke hearts have a lot of moisture. Drain them and lightly press the moisture out with the back of a spoon.
🍴 Serving Suggestions
Fresh artichoke lemon pesto can be served as a dip with crackers or spread over a toasted baguette for artichoke bruschetta. It’s great as a spread on sandwiches and wraps or for making mini pita picket pizzas.
If you are making pesto pasta, use the method I recommend for savory pesto and chickpea pasta. Cook the pasta, al dente, in a large pot of water with a pinch of salt. Before draining, reserve a cup of pasta water. Once you mix the pesto with the pasta, use the cooking water if you need to add more moisture. This keeps the pasta from getting too dry.
Artichoke pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Stir before using.
I don't recommend freezing fresh pesto because the flavor dilutes after thawing and becomes quite watery when the artichokes thaw.
🥘 Pesto and Related Recipes
Easy Artichoke Pesto Recipe (Vegan and Nut-Free)
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- 1 ½ cups artichoke hearts - drained, 14-ounce/400 grams
- ½ cup parsley - flat-leaf or curly
- 3 cloves garlic - or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds - unsalted
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Quarter the artichoke hearts and press them between 2 paper towels to release excess water. Thaw frozen artichokes before using them.
- Add the sunflower seeds to the food processor. Pulse a few times to break down the seeds, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend. Make the pesto as smooth or as chunky as you like.
- Taste and adjust the lemon juice. Add salt and black pepper as desired.
- Makes 1 ½ cups.
- Nutritional information is based on ¼ cup per serving.
- For a more traditional pesto flavor, use toasted pine nuts and substitute parsley for fresh basil.
- Store lemon artichoke pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 week. I don't recommend freezing it because it gets too watery, which dilutes the flavor.
- Nut-free substitutes include sunflower seeds or hemp seeds.
- Add vegan parmesan cheese or a tablespoon of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.