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!

Pesto with basil and 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!

pesto ingredients

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.

pesto ingredients in a food processor

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.

pesto blended in a 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
4.88 from 25 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Easy Homemade Basil Pesto

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


  • 2 cups basil firm packed
  • ½ cup parmesan or romano cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup pine nuts walnuts or almonds
  • 1 large garlic clove quartered
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil


  • 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.


Any leftover pesto can be either refrigerated for 2-3 days. If stored longer, there is a risk that the garlic may produce botulism. 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.
4.88 from 25 votes

Nutrition Information

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

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian

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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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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. Unfortunately, this did not hit the mark for me. I found later that it’s missing a very important ingredient-lemon. Which not only adds so much flavor, but also keeps the color of the basil a pretty light.
    After tasting this version and being pretty disappointed, I added lots of lemon, lots more olive oil, more garlic, and a bit more salt and it was significantly improved in my opinion. I’m glad that other folks really loved this recipe, as I know that we all have different taste preferences.2 stars

    1. Sorry to hear this recipe didn’t hit the mark for you Anna but thank you for sharing your additions!

  2. This recipe was fail proof! I had never made pesto and the directions were clear and straight forward. I used a mixture of fresh basil, baby spinach and natural almonds. So so good!5 stars

  3. Great, simple pesto recipe. I’ve been trying different pesto recipes but they all come out too coarse. This recipe is absolutely perfect, and the results are a creamy, delicious pesto. I did put a little lemon juice in it to keep the color, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. This one is a keeper. Thank you, Holly!5 stars

  4. This is how I make my Pesto but I add some fresh lemon juice. The lemon juice really enhances the flavors. One of our favorite ways to eat the pesto is with cheese tortellini. Delish!!!