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!
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!
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.
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.
- Pulse basil in a food processor with olive oil until a fine paste.
- Slowly add the remaining ingredients (from recipe below) in the order of the recipe and continue to pulse until smooth.
- Scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed.
Adjust salt as desired and serve in your favorite way.
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!
Easy Homemade Basil Pesto
- 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.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)