Chipotle Pesto Pasta

My Chipotle Pesto Pasta is deliciously smoky, and studded with corn, black beans, and tomatoes. This easy vegan pasta salad comes together in under 30 minutes, and can be served at any temperature, making it the perfect summer dish!

Here in Southern California right now, it’s HOT.

And from what my friends in other parts of the country tell me, it’s the same story just about everywhere.

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do in weather like this is heat up the house.  Which means that when dinnertime comes around, options can be quite limited.

That’s where this recipe comes in.

My Favorite Things

My Chipotle Pesto Pasta is a dish I turn to time and again on hot summer days.  Some of my favorite things about this dish?

It comes together in under 30 minutes.

It’s great served at any temperature—hot, room temperature, or cold.

It’s vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta.

You don’t have to turn on the oven, and you’ve only got the stovetop burner going for as long as it takes to boil pasta.

And, there’s something about the smoky taste of chipotles in adobo sauce that just says “summer” to me.

The Other Secret Ingredient

Another secret to this chipotle pesto is a staple in the pantry of most plant-based eaters, nutritional yeast.  Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor to it, and is so incredibly good for you.  Just 1/4 cup of this stuff has 8 grams of protein, so a little bit of nutritional yeast in this pesto goes a long way!  Plus, you get that slight cheesy flavor without using dairy.

My favorite nutritional yeast. Click to view on Amazon [aff. link].

If you don’t have nutritional yeast on hand, this chipotle pesto is still awesome without it.  But if you’d like to make “nooch” the pantry staple in your home that it is in mine, here is my favorite nutritional yeast on Amazon [aff. link].  Healthy and tasty, you’ll find yourself adding nutritional yeast to so many things, like scrambled eggs or tofu scrambles, in place of parmesan over pasta, as a seasoning on potatoes before roasting, or working it into a sauce like I’ve done here.  Give nutritional yeast a try!

Stay Cool!

Stay cool, and enjoy this Chipotle Pesto Pasta for dinner this week!

5 from 1 vote

Chipotle Pesto Pasta

My Chipotle Pesto Pasta is deliciously smoky, and studded with corn, black beans, and tomatoes.  This easy vegan pasta salad comes together in under 30 minutes, and can be served at any temperature, making it the perfect summer dish!
Prep Time12 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings: 6 people
Print Recipe


For the chipotle pesto:

  • ½ cup cashews, (or blanched, slivered almonds)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cilantro, (don’t worry if you get a few stems, not a big deal!)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, (use more or less depending on your smoky heat preference)
  • 1 ½ tsp adobo sauce
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional, but highly recommended

Everything else:

  • 1 15 oz can corn, drained
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, vegan or dairy (optional; if you use dairy cheese, be sure to freshly grate it yourself!)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pound pasta


Cook the pasta

  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions.

Make the pesto

  • While the pasta cooks, make the pesto.
  • Start by placing the cashews or almonds--use whatever you have on hand, sea salt, ground black pepper, cilantro, garlic, and nutritional yeast (if using) in the food processor. Pulse a few times to bring everything together, then process until eveyrthing is pretty finely ground.
  • Now add the adobo sauce, 1 chipotle pepper, the olive oil, and the water. Process until the oil and water incorporate and the pepper breaks down. Taste. It should be a little salty! Remember, you are putting this sauce over a pound of pasta, so the salt level will dilute once the pesto is coating the pasta.
  • If you would like to add more smoky flavor and heat, add another chipotle pepper. Keep adding one pepper at a time, processing, and tasting until you get to your desired flavor/heat level. I usually find that 3 chipolte peppers is perfect, but each can of peppers is slightly different, so definitley go by taste!
  • Process until the pesto is mostly smooth. There will still be some texture. Add the lime juice, and process once more to incorporate. Pesto is done!

Bring everything together:

  • Once the pasta finishes cooking, drain it, and put it back in the pot you cooked it in. (Save a dish!)
  • Add the corn, black beans, and halved tomatoes to the pasta. MIx to to incorporate.
  • Now add about ½ of the chipotle pesto, and gently stir so it coats the pasta. Add ½ of the remaining pesto, and stir to incorporate. Taste and add the remaining pesto if desired, or leave it on the side to spoon on top of each individual serving.

Serve and enjoy!

  • Sprinkle cheddar on top of each individual serving, if desired. Serve with greens and a side of Gardein, and enjoy!
  • This Chipotle Pesto Pasta is great at any temperature.


The great thing about chipotle peppers in adobo sauce is that you get amazing, smoky flavor regardless of how much of the pepper you use. So, if you are not a fan of spicy food, just use less chipotle pepper in the pesto—you can still enjoy the wonderful smokiness without feeling like your face is on fire. 
This meal is great served at any temperature, and is perfect for a hot day when you don't want to turn on the oven, or heat up the house.
This dish is vegan if you use vegan cheddar. (Or opt not to serve with cheddar.)
This dish is vegetarian.
This dish  is gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta.
© Copyright 2024 Vanguard of Hollywood

6 Responses

  1. This is wonderful! I was freaked out at first, wondering how in the world basil and chipotles would go together! I love the fact that you made a chipotle pesto. It sounds fantastic. And I love beans and corn with pasta. Bravo.

    1. Thanks Jeff!! This is definitely a unique pesto, and such a favorite of mine. Oh yes, nutritional yeast is absolutely AMAZING. Give it a try, I’m sure you’ll love it!

  2. 5 stars
    This dish sounds delicious, Shannon! I love pesto, and chipotle is definitely a good pairing with pastas. I haven’t tried nutritional yeast yet, but now I’m intrigued! Also, if you’re looking for a break from the summer heat, come this way. We’re hitting chilly mornings here. I had to pull a blanket out yesterday when I sat on the porch with my morning coffee – it’s true!

    1. Thanks David! Definitely give nutritional yeast a try, it’s such a versatile ingredient. And that is CRAZY!!. It’s been so hot over here until basically the last few days. Definitely hasn’t started to feel like fall is just around the corner yet!

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