Avocado Pesto Pasta with Hemp Seeds

Avocado Pesto Pasta with Hemp Seeds | Food & Nutrition
Photo by Tawnie Kroll, RDN

Avocado adds a silky consistency and richness to this amazing dairy-free pesto pasta recipe. You can toss it with pasta but also enjoy as a spread on a sandwich as a mayo substitute, or even use it for a veggie dip! This pesto is free of gluten and dairy but full of nutrition!Avocado Pesto Pasta with Hemp Seeds - The ripe avocado lends it’s smooth and creamy texture to this healthy pesto and it’s complimented with fresh lemon, hemp seeds and crushed garlic. You’ll end up with a nutritionally satisfying pesto pasta everyone will enjoy.

I love that this pesto is indulgent but not overly-rich thanks to the heart healthy avocados and olive oil. This recipe also happens to be vegan, but you can also add Parmesan cheese if you’d like! I usually make this for a meal prep on Sundays to have for dinners throughout the week. It usually lasts two to four days in fridge, but I would recommend eating it sooner than later because it does turn a brownish color once it sits for a while due to the avocado.

A tradition pesto usually includes:

Fresh basil
Pine nuts
Olive oil

My pesto is different because:

I add a few dietitian tricks that I have up my sleeve to add more nutrients to the pesto!

I love to use walnuts in place of the pine nuts, I add in hemp seeds for a boost of protein, fiber and omegas, and I also use the avocado for more healthy fats!

My pesto has no cheese, but you can add in Parmesan if you would like! It add a nice salty flavor.

How to make pesto

I make my pesto typically in the food processor. You can also use a powerful blender to make it nice and smooth as well. I like the food processor or blender run for a few minutes to ensure it’s the consistency I prefer. Adjust seasonings and olive oil as you blend.

Dietitian Tawnie’s Tip: Reserve some of the starchy water from the pasta. When you go to drain your noodles, reserve some of the water. Mix some of this water into the pesto just before you mix it in with the noodles to dilute the sauce and so it can adhere to your noodles.

Substitution options:

If you don’t have walnuts, you can use pine nuts or pistachios. If you want to have Parmesan, that’s a great addition. If you’re vegan and want that cheesy flavor, nutritional yeast is a great option. I love adding nutritional yeast to my recipes! You can add fresh spinach if you have some on hand as well. Cutting down on carbs? Make this recipe with zoodles! Spiralize your zucchini or use on spaghetti squash for a low carbohydrate option. No olive oil? Avocado oil works well too. Or if you have an additional avocado I would add that and adjust consistency by adding water.

Be mindful of portions.

This pesto does contain a plethora of healthy ingredients – but keep in mind these healthy “good-for-you fats” also add up in calories fast! Balance your plate out with some pasta, chicken and roasted tomatoes for a well rounded meal.

Avocado Pesto Pasta with Hemp Seeds

Serves 4


  • 1 pound angel hair or spaghetti
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon plus 1 pinch salt
  • 2 bunches fresh basil
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced


  1. Boil water for pasta and follow package directions. Be sure to reserve some of your pasta water – this is helpful for a creamy pasta with this pesto! After you drain the pasta, toss 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pasta so it doesn’t get sticky and add a pinch of salt on top, set aside.
  2. In a food processor or powerful blender, mix together 4 tablespoons olive oil, basil, walnuts, lemon juice, hemp seeds and salt until smooth. Adjust olive oil and seasonings to your preference.
  3. Add in the pasta water to the pasta, mix in the pesto until noodles are coated well, garnish with tomatoes and enjoy!

Recipe notes

Pine nuts or pistachios may be substituted for walnuts. If desired, ¼ cup nutritional yeast or Parmesan cheese can be added to this recipe. You may need to add a tablespoon or so of hot water to get proper consistency if you add either of these ingredients in.

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Tawnie Graham
Tawnie Graham, RDN, is a huge lover of cooking and baking, a healthy recipe creator and fitness enthusiast. You can catch her either blogging, instructing at Pilates or cooking in the kitchen. She blogs at krollskorner.com and you can follow her on Instagram.