Flavourful and nourishing! This Thai Basil Pesto is an exciting and vegan twist on the traditional basil pesto. It is delicious eaten with pasta, potatoes and more.
Summer is in full swing, and my herbs are growing like crazy on my little balcony. I love to use the Asian herb as a topping for dishes like this salmon teriyaki bowl and other Asian-inspired recipes.
But recently, I branched out of my usual Thai Basil use and made a pesto out of all the fresh Thai basil I had at home.
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Thai basil vs. sweet basil
Growing herbs at home is so satisfying. Moreover, it is a great opportunity to have more unusual herbs on hand than parsley, basil, and cilantro. This brings me to the delicious herb Thai basil. But what is the difference between the common sweet basil we all love and its Asian counterpart?
When comparing their look, sweet basil leaves are soft, shiny, and come in a slightly round shape. On the other hand, the leaves of the Thai basil plant are more serrated, matte, and sturdier. But the most significant distinction when it comes to their appearance. Thai basil has purple stems. Its blooms also come in a purple hue. It is a good indicator to look for when searching for the herb on farmers' markets and in stores.
Compared to sweet basil, their look is not only different but also their taste. Unlike sweet basil, also called Italian sweet basil, Thai basil comes with a different flavour profile. While sweet basil has a well sweeter taste, with a hint of pepper, Thai basil is spicier and comes with hints of anise and liquorice. Its distinct flavour goes well with Southeast Asian dishes like this quick yellow vegetable curry, stir-fries and more.
With this recipe, I wanted to give the classic Italian pesto a delicious twist with Thai basil. Love pesto? Try my wild garlic pistachio pesto to reap all the benefits of the seasonal produce.
Why you'll love this recipe
If you like pesto, you will love this Thai version of the Italian classic:
- ready in 5 minutes
- easy to make
- low carb
- Thai basil – Look for the herb in Asian supermarkets and speciality stores or grow it at home to have on hand.
- Garlic – The spicy garlic flavour is a must in pesto and goes so well with the Thai basil.
- Cashew nuts – You can also use pine nuts, peanuts, or other nuts in this pesto.
- Olive oil – I used good quality extra-virgin olive oil for this recipe.
- Rice wine vinegar – Substitute rice wine vinegar fresh lime or lemon juice if needed.
- Salt & pepper – Season the pesto according to your taste and use more if you want the pesto to be spicier.
See recipe card for quantities.
Place the Thai basil, garlic, cashews, olive oil and rice wine vinegar in a food processor and season with salt and pepper.
Pulse until smooth and serve with pasta, potatoes, vegetables and more.
- food processor or blender
Want to spice it up? Add fresh chilli or some red pepper flakes to add some heat to the pesto.
If you feel that the pesto is too thick, slowly add a bit of water and pulse until you reach the desired consistency.
Yes, you can make this pesto with other varieties of basil too, but you will lose some of the distinct flavour Thai basil is known for. To get a similar flavour, you can mix the Thai basil with a bit of cilantro or sweet mint. In this recipe, where the herb is a central ingredient, it is best to use Thai basil.
Keep the pesto in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Top the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil before storing it.
- Potatoes – My favourite way to eat this pesto is served with roasted or baked potatoes.
- Pasta and noodles – Use it like regular pesto on pasta or Asian noodle dishes.
- Vegetables – This Thai basil pesto is delicious with grilled or roasted vegetables.
- Meat, Fish & Seafood – The flavourful pesto is also delicious with grilled or roasted lean protein instead of a sauce.
- Tofu – It also goes well with plant-based protein.
- Spread or dip – Branch out and use this pesto as a flavourful spread on bread or toast and as a dip for crunchy appetizers and snacks.
- Condiment – Stir it into stews, curries and stir fries while cooking for an extra flavour boost.
Thai Basil Pesto
- food processor or blender
- 30 g thai basil leaves (2 loosely packed cups)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 35 g raw, unsalted cashews (¼ cup)
- 60 ml olive oil (¼ cup)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the Thai basil, garlic, cashews, olive oil and rice wine vinegar in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the pesto straight away, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Nutritional values are estimates only calculated with online tools. The author of this website is not a nutritionist nor a doctor. All the nutritional data provided in the recipes and correspondent blog posts are for informational purposes only. Do not use the information as nutritional or medical advice. Since the nutritional value can vary depending on the products used, it is recommended to calculate it based on the actual type of ingredients used.