Every time I look at an Italian restaurant menu or a jar of pesto in the grocery store, one particular ingredient jumps out at me: Parmesan cheese. I looked for a pre-made pesto that did not have cheese in it because I am lactose intolerant, but without much luck I decided to make my own. Try this lactose-free pesto recipe that features lactose-free cheese and tastes the same, if not better than other pestos on the market.

Freshly grown basil pesto is the perfect transition into summer food. All you need is a Vitamix blender or a food processor to make your very own lactose-free pesto. You can whip it up as the perfect topping for pasta, turkey burgers, or sandwiches. It is easy to prep, make, and clean up in 20 minutes or less. 

Pesto Minus the Parmesan Cheese

  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:0
  • Total Time:15 mins
  • Servings:5
  • Easy


  • 2 cups fresh packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Cabot lactose-free Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1-2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
salsa, chutney, spinach, tomatillo, broccoli, garlic, vegetable, herb, pesto
Allison Curley
  • Step 1

    Wash the basil leaves and pick them off one by one until you have measured out two cups.

    vegetable, salad, basil, spinach
    Allison Curley
  • Step 2

    Grate 1/2 cup of the Cabot Monterey Jack cheese, and cut and mince 1 clove of garlic. (If you like garlic a lot then add two cloves; it will taste the same only have a little extra bite.)

    butter, cheese
    Allison Curley
  • Step 3

    Add all of the ingredients to the blender (I used a Vitamix) or food processor. Start with the olive oil as your liquid base.

    chicken, salad
    Allison Curley
  • Step 4

    Blend together using a medium speed until all the ingredients are mixed and creamy.

    herb, salsa, pesto
    Allison Curley

Instead of Parmesan cheese, I used Cabot's lactose-free Monterey Jack cheese because of it's natural bite that pairs perfectly with pesto and garlic. This is a great substitution to make a totally lactose-free pesto that tastes exactly like the regular and creamy kind often found on the market.

pesto, basil, herb, vegetable, spinach, pasta
Jake Popescu

The key ingredient in any pesto is fresh basil leaves, so try to buy or pick your basil close to when you plan on whipping up this recipe. Be sure to try pairing it with your summer BBQ foods, or a classic Italian dish of pasta to get the full fresh and flavorful taste.