Is Pesto Sauce Gluten Free? (Yes, Here’s Why)


Is Pesto Sauce Gluten Free

Pesto sauce is a creamy herbaceous delicacy often found on pasta and in Italian cuisine. If you love this mouth-watering sauce, you may wonder what it is exactly made from. If you are gluten-free, you may also question if this product is OK to eat. The questions remains, is pesto sauce gluten-free?

Yes, pesto is considered gluten-free. Pesto typically consists of basil, oil, cheese, and pine nuts. The best healthier and gluten-free pesto sauce brands are Gotham Greens Pesto, Rao’s Pesto Sauce, and Bitchin’ Sauce Pesto. If you are looking for a vegan and gluten-free pesto sauce, we recommend Trader Joe’s Kale Pesto or Victoria Vegan Alfredo Arugula Pesto.

This article will explore the ingredients and nutrition of various pesto brands, healthier pesto alternatives, and offer some recommendations for prepared gluten-free frozen meals. Let’s dig in!

Is Pesto Sauce Healthy?

Traditional pesto sauce made with real whole food ingredients is a healthy addition to any diet (when consumed in moderation). While store bought pesto is more convenient and cheaper, it often contains added ingredients that we should consume mindfully like sodium and refined oils.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular brands of pesto sauces and their nutritional information.

Pesto Nutritional Information

Barilla Traditional Pesto

Ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Plum Puree
  • Vinegar
  • Ginger
  • Salt
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Citric Acid
  • Xanthan Gum

Nutrition Facts (Per 2 Tablespoons):

  • 200 Calories
  • 19 g Total Fat
  • 2.5 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 5 mg Cholesterol
  • 600 mg Sodium
  • 5 g Total Carbohydrate
  • 1.0 g Dietary Fiber
  • 20 g Sugars
  • 3 g Protein

Nutrition Facts (Per 2 Tablespoons):

  • 200 Calories
  • 19 g Total Fat
  • 2.5 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 5 mg Cholesterol
  • 600 mg Sodium
  • 5 g Total Carbohydrate
  • 1.0 g Dietary Fiber
  • 20 g Sugars
  • 3 g Protein

Trader Joe’s Pesto Alla Genovese  

Ingredients:

  • Basil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Grana Padano Cheese (pasteurized cow’s milk, salt, rennet)
  • Pecorino romano Cheese (pasteurized sheep’s milk, salt, rennet)
  • Cashews
  • Salt
  • Pine Nuts
  • Lactic Acid
  • Garlic

Nutrition Facts (Per 1/4 Cup):

  • 250 Calories
  • 26 g Total Fat
  • 4 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 0 mg Cholesterol
  • 840 mg Sodium
  • 3 g Total Carbohydrate
  • 0 g Dietary Fiber
  • 0 g Sugars
  • 3 g Protein

Bowl & Basket Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:

  • Sunflower Seed Oil
  • Basil
  • Cashew Nuts
  • Grana Padano Cheese (milk, Salt, Rennet, Lysozyme From Egg)
  • Glucose
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Natural Flavorings
  • Potato Flakes (potatoes, Mono and Diglycerides Of Fatty Acids, Spices, Diphosphate, Sodium Metabisulphite, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Citric Acid)
  • Lactic Acid
  • Pine Nuts
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese (ewe’s Milk, Salt, Rennet), Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Nutrition Facts (Per 1/2 Cup):

  • 260 Calories
  • 26 g Total Fat
  • 3.5 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 790 mg Sodium
  • 5 g Carbohydrate
  • 2 g Sugars
  • 1 g Dietary Fiber
  • 3 g Protein

Prego Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:

  • Basil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Garlic
  • Romano Cheese (Part-Skim Cow’s Milk, Cultures, Salt, Enzymes)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Contains Less Than 1% Of:
    • Lactic Acid
    • Citric Acid
    • Rosemary Extract
    • Oregano
    • Water

Nutrition Facts (Per 1/4 Cup):

  • 200 Calories
  • 19 g Total Fat
  • 4 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 580 mg Sodium
  • 4 g Carbohydrate
  • 0 g Sugars
  • 1 g Dietary Fiber
  • 3 g Protein

Good & Gather Basil Pesto Sauce

Good & Gather is made with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. 

Ingredients:

  • Basil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese (Pasteurized Sheep’s Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes)
  • Canola Oil
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pine Nuts
  • Citric Acid
  • Rosemary Extract
  • Ascorbic Acid

Nutrition Facts (Per 1/4 Cup):

  • 260 Calories
  • 26 g Total Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 10 mg Cholesterol
  • 400 mg Sodium
  • 2 g Total Carbohydrate
  • 1 g Dietary Fiber
  • 0 g Total Sugars
  • 4 g Protein

Healthier Pesto Alternatives

When looking for healthier store bought pesto products, it is best to look for organic and with as minimal ingredients as possible.

Rao’s Pesto Sauce

Rao's Homemade Basil Pesto Sauce | 6.7 oz | Flavorful Pasta Sauce | Premium Quality | With Cheese, Nuts, Garlic & Olive Oil Rao’s famous pesto sauce is classic pesto made with high quality ingredients. 

Ingredients:

  • Basil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Cheese Blend (Granular and Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese [Cow’s Milk, Enzymes, Salt])
  • Cashews
  • Sea Salt
  • Sugar
  • Potato Flakes (Potatoes)
  • Pine Nuts
  • Dried Glucose Syrup
  • Garlic
  • Lactic Acid

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 Teaspoon):

  • 5 Calories
  • 5 g Total Fat
  • 0 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 0 mg Cholesterol
  • 50 mg Sodium
  • 0 g Total Carbohydrate
  • 0 g Dietary Fiber
  • 0 g Total Sugars
  • 0 g Added Sugars
  • 0 g Protein

Gotham Greens Pesto

Gotham Greens is dairy and gluten-free pesto alternatives that will be a hit for all the vegans craving their favorite pasta sauce. 

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil
  • Basil
  • Pine Nuts
  • Lemon Juice
  • Garlic
  • Sea Salt

Nutrition Facts (Per 20z, 57g):

  • 260 Calories
  • 28 g Total Fat
  • 3.5 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 0 mg Cholesterol
  • 350 mg Sodium
  • 3 g Total Carbohydrates
  • 0 g Total Sugars
  • 1 g Added Sugars
  • 2 g Protein

Kitchen & Love Basil Pesto

Kitchen & Love Basil Pesto Quinoa Quick Meal 6-Pack | Gluten-Free, Ready-to-Eat, No Refrigeration Required Kitchen & Love Basil Pesto is lower in fat, sodium, and calories than most store bought pesto brands. 

Ingredients:

  • Basil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Water
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Grana Padano Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Potato Starch
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Pine Nuts
  • Sugar
  • Citric Acid
  • Ascorbic Acid

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 oz):

  • 95 Calories
  • 9 g Total Fat
  • 0 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 1 mg Cholesterol
  • 280 mg Sodium
  • 3 g Total Carbohydrate
  • .5 g Dietary Fiber
  • .5 g Total Sugars
  • 1 g Added Sugars
  • 1 g Protein

Bitchin’ Sauce Pesto

Bitchin’ is an alternative vegan brand that makes pesto with almonds instead of pine nuts. This pesto is a little different than others. It is non-GMO and low sodium.

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • Almonds
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Basil
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Bragg Liquid Aminos (soy protein)
  • Garlic
  • Sea Salt

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 oz):

  • 90 Calories
  • 9 g Total Fat
  • 1 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 1 mg Cholesterol
  • 150 mg Sodium
  • 2 g Total Carbohydrate
  • 2 g Protein

Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale Pesto

Trader Joe’s offers a vegan pesto option made with kale, basil, and cashews.

Ingredients:

  • Kale
  • Olive oil blend (olive oil, extra virgin olive oil)
  • Water
  • Basil
  • Cashew butter (dry roasted cashews, safflower oil or sunflower oil)
  • Garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 oz):

  • 180 Calories
  • 18 g Total Fat
  • 3 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 0 mg Cholesterol
  • 240 mg Sodium
  • 5 g Total Carbohydrate
  • 2 g Protein

Victoria Vegan Alfredo Arugula Pesto

Victoria Vegan Sauce, Alfredo Arugula Pesto, 18 Fluid Ounce Victoria Vegan offers a gluten-free creamy pesto alternative made with cashews, arugula, pesto, and pine nuts.

Ingredients:

  • Cashew Cream (Water, Cashews)
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Sea Salt
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Non-Dairy Lactic Acid
  • Natural Cocoa Butter Flavor
  • Corn Starch
  • Arugula
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Gum Acacia
  • Pine nuts
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemon Juice Concentrate
  • Rosemary

Nutrition Facts (Per 1/4 Cup):

  • 70 Calories
  • 1 g Total Fat
  • 1 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 0 mg Cholesterol
  • 320 mg Sodium
  • 6 g Total Carbohydrate
  • 2 g Protein

Gluten-Free Prepared Meals with Pesto Sauce

If you don’t feel like cooking but still want to enjoy a gluten-free and healthy prepared meal with this delicious creamy sauce, check out these meals for some inspiration. 

Tattooed Chef Pesto Harvest Bowl

Tattooed Chef Pesto Harvest Bowl is gluten-free, vegan, and low in calories.

Ingredients:

  • Cayenne pepper sauce (aged red cayenne peppers, distilled vinegar, salt, garlic)
  • Cashew butter
  • Avocado oil
  • Organic garlic powder
  • Organic paprika

Nutrition Facts (1 Bowl):

  • Cooked Quinoa (Water, Quinoa)
  • Cauliflower (Cauliflower, Salt)
  • Zucchini
  • Olive Oil
  • Spinach
  • Basil
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes (Sun Dried Tomatoes, Sulfur Dioxide [To Retain Color] Citric Acid, Glucose)
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Lemon Juice From Concentrate
  • Garlic
  • Black Pepper
  • Salt

Primal Kitchen Gluten Free Frozen Chicken Pesto Bowl

Primal Kitchen offers a healthy way to consume pesto served with riced cauliflower, cage-free chicken, vegetables, and pesto. This meal contains no gluten, grains, or soy and it Whole30 approved. 

Ingredients:

  • Riced Cauliflower
  • Cooked Dark Meat Chicken (Dark Meat Chicken, Water, Sea Salt)
  • Broccoli
  • Yellow Zucchini
  • Basil
  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
  • Organic Almond Butter (Almonds)
  • Garlic Puree (Garlic, Vinegar)
  • Salt
  • Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate
  • Organic Black Pepper

Nutrition Facts (Per 1/4 Cup):

  • 460 Calories
  • 39 g Total Fat
  • 6 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 50 mg Cholesterol
  • 810 mg Sodium
  • 10 g Carbohydrate
  • 5 g Dietary Fiber
  • 4 g Total Sugars
  • 0 g Added Sugars
  • 18 g Protein
  • 130 mg Calcium

Udi’s provides an assortment of gluten-free products, like this Gluten Free Pesto Tortellini bowl. Its often times hard to find gluten-free tortellini, especially with pesto so this is a great alternative!

Ingredients:

  • Gluten Free Four Cheese Tortellini (dough [water, Brown Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch, Egg, Egg White, Xanthan Gum, Flax Seed, Salt]
  • Water
  • Filling [ricotta Cheese {Whey, Milk, Vinegar, Culture, Salt}
  • Mozzarella Cheese {milk, Cheese Culture, Salt}
  • Asiago Cheese {cultured Milk, Enzymes, Salt}
  • Parmesan Cheese {milk, Cheese Culture, Salt}, Olive Oil])
  • Water
  • Broccoli
  • Whole Milk (milk, Vitamin D3)
  • Parmesan Cheese (milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes)
  • Heavy Cream
  • Tomatoes
  • Cooking Wine (wine, Salt)
  • Basil
  • Corn Starch
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Canola Oil
  • Lemon Juice From Concentrate (water, Lemon Juice Concentrate)
  • Chopped Garlic (garlic, Water)
  • Sea Salt
  • Spices

Nutrition Facts (Per 1 Container):

  • 360 Calories
  • 18 g Total Fat
  • 9 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 65 mg Cholesterol
  • 620 mg Sodium
  • 35 g Carbohydrate
  • 3 g Dietary Fiber
  • 4 g Total Sugars
  • 2 g Added Sugars
  • 15 g Protein

Final Thoughts

Pesto is a great gluten-free sauce and topping when served in moderation and sourced from high quality ingredients. Just be mindful of the high fat and sodium content but still enjoy it with your favorite parings like gluten-free pasta, chicken & lean meats, and quinoa bowls! 

Related Questions

Is pesto sauce vegan?

No, most pesto sauces contain parmesan cheese vegan as they do not usually contain animal products. However, there are many brands of vegan pesto sauce. Just remember to read the ingredients!

Is pesto sauce keto?

Yes, pesto sauce is keto friendly as it is low in carbohydrates and calories. As always it is essential to read the labels and to ensure that there are no added sugars or carbohydrates. 

Is pesto sauce acceptable on a Whole30 diet?

Traditional pesto is not Whole30 approved because it contains cheese. On a Whole30 diet you can not eat dairy including cheese, cow milk, yogurt, cream, sour cream, kefir, or butter. 

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Makena Marie

Makena Marie is a plant-based Chef, recipe developer, food photographer, and freelance writer based on Maui, Hawaii. Makena believes in a whole food plant-based diet that focuses on local organic ingredients. Makena has a BA in International Relations and Environmental Sustainability with a concentration in food and agricultural studies. She believes that a healthy diet is connected to a healthy relationship with the environment and local farmers. She is passionate about traveling and exploring global food cultures, where she finds her inspiration to create beautiful healthy plant-based recipes. Makena ascribes to the famous Pythagoras quote, “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine by thy food."

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