The Pesto Testo: Vegan Pesto Taste Test

vegan pesto taste test: Florentino, Suma, Sunita, Zest

The expanding vegan grocery market in the UK means we easily laid our hands on four brands of vegan pesto for our taste test. A decade ago you had to make your own; now we can compare who makes the best stuff for us to buy. These are four very different takes on we'll see in our vegan pesto taste test.

vegan pesto: Florentino, Suma, Sunita, Zest

Take off the tops and the smell and appearance of each jar readily shows how broadly the notion of pesto can be interpreted. From the thick and leafy, to the soft and nutty, to the creamy and oily.

spoons of vegan pesto: Florentino, Suma, Sunita, Zest
Left to Right:  Sunita  -  Zest  -  Suma  -  Florentino

Even the four colours are readily distinguished from each other, from pale, to vibrant, to dark green

vegan pesto taste test
green: Suma    blue: Zest    pink: Sunita    orange: Florentino

We prepared the four pestos in the simplest way possible...stirred through some cooked pasta...Orgran gluten-free in this case, to suit one of our reviewers. We used coloured bowls so we could keep track of which pesto was which..

We usually name a winner in our taste tests, but we're not going to for this test. The pestos are all so different and each have their strong points...and each will have their fans too.

Florentino vegan pesto

In 5 words:
Thick, fibrous, leafy, grainy, salty

The least favourite of our reviewers and the least like traditional pesto. Made from dried basil and little else, this pesto is too thick and too tough. It's also over-salty, although you can compensate for that by using less salt when cooking your pasta.

Verdict: A little too leafy and tough
Veganoo Score: ★★☆☆☆

Suma vegan pesto

In 5 words:
Loose, oily, acidic, soft, bland(ish)

A good take on pesto, with cashews replacing the cheese, but with traditional pine nuts too. Sunflower oil instead of olive oil makes it slightly bland which is a mistake, but overall a reasonably tasty complement to pasta.

Verdict: Good but a tiny bit bland
Veganoo Score: ★★★★☆

Sunita vegan pesto

In 5 words:
Soft, oily, meaty, pungent, salty

The strongest tasting of the pestos on test and the one that split our reviewers. Lots of good olive oil, pine nuts and garlic make for a pungent taste. A little over-salty. Use this pesto more sparingly.

Verdict: Packs a flavour punch
Veganoo Score: ★★★★☆

Zest vegan pesto

In 5 words:
Nutty, chewy, grainy, acidic, tasty

A cocktail of ingredients with little in common with traditional pesto except for the basil, but a good 'alternative' pesto. Three types of nuts pack in the flavour. Veg oil and toasted sesame oil instead of olive oil. A chewy, nutty pesto paste.

Verdict: Good, but not traditional pesto
Veganoo Score: ★★★★☆

Round up:
Traditional pesto is simple: basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and cheese. Vegan pesto just needs to replace the cheese. It's strange that none of these pestos take that approach. The Suma product replaces the cheese with cashews, but switches the olive oil for bland sunflower oil...while the Sunita pesto just misses the cheese out.

Sunita wins out for the most traditional pesto flavour, but is a little oily and pungent to suit everyone's taste. Zest is a tasty alternative take on pesto, while Suma is traditional but slightly bland. The tough and leafy Florentino product doesn't make the grade, but for the other brands you pay your money, you take your choice.

Footnote: Ingredients
Here are the ingredients panels from the jars we reviewed.





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  1. Having thought that Zest had sold vegan pesto for ages and ages, a spot of Googling reveals that it was definitely around in 1999, and there're mentions of shop-bought vegan pesto in 1997 - so having to make your own pesto "a decade ago" isn't quite accurate. There's definitely more choice now though!

  2. You're right Steve, decade was a loose term. How things have changed for vegans since 1999 though...we seem to be living through an explosion in terms of availability of vegan food choices.

  3. Meridian's green vegan pesto is lovely, I buy it wholesale from Suma, who stock most of the others, along with their own red pesto.|kj160|kj161|kj189|kj192|kj452|kj790|vf023&mode=list

    1. Thanks for the tip. Never seen the Meridian one in the shops. As an aside, Meridian's new branding is great - they've finally left the 80s behind...

  4. Hello! absolutely adoring your site. busy reading all the reviews after looking for sausages in the hop of a sunday fryup :)

    As for pesto, I'm a mad pesto fan and it was one of the things I was dying to replace when I went vegan. All of the jar pestos I tried were either insanely salty or didn't actually taste like pesto (one really tasted like my hair henna smells!).

    The hands down winner for me was the Raw Living Food Kitchen pesto, which gets around the salt issue by being refrigerated. It's utterly utterly divine. and I go through pots of it. It's unusual because it's based on hemp, rather than cashew or pine. (so super good for you too!)

    This summer, having had an explosion of basil plants, I tried to make my own and found a recipe online which had the same ingredients as the Raw Living Food Kitchen one, and that worked out splendidly.

    1. Thanks, ahem, mi'lady. Where do you buy the Raw Living pesto?

  5. Asda sell a pesto in their free from section that tastes great and looks a lot nicer than any of the above!
    it costs approx £1.50-2 a bottle and is called " Le conserve Della Nonna" green pesto, and it has a red and white checked lid.
    Check it out!

    1. Thanks for the tip. We've just discovered a Sacla one that's vegan too (from Waitrose).

    2. They also sell the vegan Sacla pesto in Sainsbury's in the free from section.


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