Fresh Basil Pesto {Perfect for Pasta!}

A quick 5-minute Basil Pesto packs so much flavor, it’s hard not to eat it right out of the jar!

It is perfect on pasta but also makes a great dipping sauce for bread, veggies, and a brush-on-marinade for meat! Stir it into a bit of mayonnaise for a delicious dip!

Close up image of Pesto in a jar garnished with basil & pine nuts.

What is Pesto?

Pesto originated in Italy and is made with basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts (or walnuts or almonds) salt, and a hard cheese like Parmesan or pecorino romano.

We love to make this in big batches and freeze in ice cube trays to add an extra pop of flavor when making pasta sauce or using it to make pasta salads for summer (or even adding it to Caprese salad or bruschetta)!

Leftover pesto is also great as a dipping sauce for homemade garlic bread. With a versatile recipe like this, how can you go wrong!

Overview of ingredients used for Pesto.

Ingredients & Variations

BASIL For a classic pesto we use fresh basil! This is the perfect way to use the abundance of fresh basil in your garden or from a farmer’s market. But any fresh basil will do.

If you’re short on basil, add in some other herbs or greens (parsley, dill or even spinach work well)!

OLIVE OIL A mild-flavored oil works great for this recipe letting the flavor of the herbs shine through. The most common oil for this is olive oil, you can also use canola oil, grapeseed oil, or avocado oil.

NUTS Pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts are all great in this recipe. They provide that perfect nutty balance you expect from a pesto!

Don’t have those on hand? Have fun experimenting with whatever nuts you do have! Be sure to shell them first and remove the skins if necessary. You can leave them on but they will provide a coarser texture.

CHEESE We love using parmesan cheese in this recipe! It is the perfect slightly salty hard cheese. Other great cheeses include Romano or  Grana Padano.

Overview of basil in a food processor with Parmesan, pine nuts and garlic on the side.

How to Make Pesto

The key to a smooth and creamy basil pesto is the use of a food processor. If you don’t have one, a personal blender will do too.

  1. Pulse basil in a food processor with olive oil until a fine paste.
  2. Slowly add the remaining ingredients (from recipe below) in the order of the recipe and continue to pulse until smooth.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed.

Adjust salt as desired and serve in your favorite way.

Overview of basil chopped up in the food processor.

Can You Freeze Pesto

Pesto is great for freezing!

  • Scoop into a zippered bag and label it with the date. It should keep about 6 months.
  • Another handy way to freeze pesto is to pour it into ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, put them in a zippered bag and pull out a cube or two as needed.

It’s great to add to sauces, dips or soups, or even as a topping on a burger or scrambled eggs!

Delicious Pesto Recipes

Did you love this Basil Pesto? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

Pesto with basil and pine nuts

Easy Homemade Basil Pesto

Fresh Pesto is so flavorful. Serve on chicken, pasta or use as a dip for bread!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 153

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basil firm packed
  • 1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts walnuts or almonds
  • 1 large garlic clove quartered
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  • Place basil in a food processor with 1 tablespoon of oil and blend into a paste.
  • Slowly add remaining ingredients in order, scraping the sides as needed. Blend until smooth.

Notes

Any leftover pesto can be either refrigerated for a few days, or alternatively you can freeze in small portions for future use.

Short on Basil? Add in some other herbs or greens (parsley, dill or even spinach work well)!

Choose a light-flavored oil. Canola oil, grapeseed oil, or avocado oil work too.

Toast the nuts for extra flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 153 | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 231mg | Potassium: 65mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 487IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 1mg
Overview of pesto with writing
Homemade Pesto topped with basil and pine nuts with writing
Homemade Pesto with writing
Homemade Pesto in a jar with writing
Homemade Pesto with Basil in a jar with writing
Homemade Pesto with Basil and pesto ingredients with writing

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