How To Make Basil Pesto |Recipe + Tips|

Making basil pesto from scratch is super easy and quick. Great on chicken, salads, pasta, garlic bread, and more.

homemade basil pesto sauce in a jar

What is pesto made of?

Pesto is made with fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, salt, olive oil, and parmesan or pecorino romano.

You can also substitute the pine nuts for walnuts, almonds, pecans or pepitas.

Some people also like to add a splash of lemon juice but you can skip on it or add it in if you have any lemons on hand.

Pesto ingredients

  • Basil – fresh basil is essential for a classic pesto recipe. You can also use frozen basil.
  • Pine nuts – another classic ingredient for this recipe is pine nuts. If you can’t get your hand on any pine nuts you can substitute with raw almonds, walnuts, pepitas, or pecans.
  • Parmesan – Parmesan is a key ingredient that adds a creamy texture to the pesto. A substitution for parmesan would be pecorino romano or grana padano.
  • Garlic – garlic always adds great flavor, can’t go wrong with it.
  • Salt – Helps reduce the bitterness of the basil
  • Olive oil – Extra virgin olive oil is the best for this homemade pesto recipe
  • Lemon juice – Adding lemon juice is optional but it does add a perfect tang to the pesto. Give it a try.
basil pesto ingredients - olive oil, parmesan, garlic, pine nuts, basil

How to make homemade pesto

Making your own homemade pesto is always tastier than store-bought and very simple to make. Originating from Italy, pesto is made by grinding all the ingredients together. So using a small blender or food processor is essential for this pesto recipe.

  1. Toast your nuts for more flavor. In a medium, pan toast your pine nuts over medium heat while stirring frequently. Let them cool down.
  2. Add in the fresh basil, pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, and salt into the food processor. Pulse a few times until finely minced.
  3. While the food processor is running, slowing pour in the olive oil. Keep processing until the mixture is well blended.
  4. Taste test. Season with salt and pepper if needed. If you want a cheesier pesto simply add more parmesan.

How long does pesto last?

Homemade pesto will last up to 1 week in an airtight container stored in the refrigerator. You can also make this in batches and freeze. Use an ice tray to freeze the pesto then transfer the pesto cubes to a freezer bag for easy use. Pesto has a freezer life of up to 6 months. Thaw out in the fridge before using it.

Once you place your pesto in the fridge it will darken. If you want to keep it bright top it with some olive oil. This will create a seal on the pesto.

What to eat with pesto?

Pasta

Zucchini noodles

Pizza

Garlic bread

Sandwiches/Flatbreads

Avocado toast

Salads

Baked potato

Grilled chicken/pork chops/steak/meatballs/meatloaf

Fish/Shrimp

Dips – mix with sour cream, guacamole, greek yogurt, or cottage cheese.

Veggies

Eggs

Drizzle on top of soup

homemade basil pesto sauce

Vegan pesto

Make your pesto vegan and dairy free by leaving out the cheese and replacing it with 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast.

Nut free

Use pepitas or sunflower seeds. Pine nuts are actually seeds but if you’re allergic to nuts, you will likey be allergic to pine nuts as well.

homemade basil pesto sauce

How To Make Basil Pesto |Recipe + Tips|

How to make homemade traditional basil pesto sauce
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian

Equipment

  • food processor

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • cup pine nuts toasted
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice optional
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pepper optional

Instructions
 

  • Toast your nuts for more flavor. In a medium pan toast your pine nuts over medium heat while stirring frequently. Let them cool down.
  • Add in the fresh basil, pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, and salt into the food processor. Pulse a few times until finely minced.
  • While the food processor is running, slowing pour in the olive oil. Keep processing until the mixture is well blended.
  • Taste test. Season with salt and pepper if needed. If you want a cheesier pesto simply add more parmesan.
  • Enjoy!



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