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

Pesto is a delicious basil sauce with olive oil, pine nuts and a bit of Parmesan cheese. It requires no cooking and comes together in just a few minutes

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

Easy Homemade Basil Pesto in a jar

The Magic of Pesto

What is Pesto? Pesto originated in Genoa, Italy and is a vibrant green paste or sauce made with fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts (or walnuts or almonds), salt, and a hard cheese like Parmesan or pecorino romano.

It has a fresh and herby taste and is often tossed with pasta but you can also use it for sauces, as a dip, spread on sandwiches, or add a bit as a garnish for soup.

Easy freezing – If your garden is overflowing with basil, make big batches and freeze it. I freeze in ice cube trays and drop a cube or two in when making pasta sauce!

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 to make Easy Homemade Basil Pesto

Ingredients for Pesto

Basil – For a classic basil pesto sauce, use fresh basil leaves from the garden or farmer’s market. If you’re low, substitute some or all of the basil with other fresh herbs or greens. Try parsley, dill, cilantro, a bit of mint, spinach, arugula, or kale.

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 are the classic choice but they’re also very expensive. You can use other nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pistachios. If changing the nuts, use any shelled nuts you have; just note the texture may vary.

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

To make it easy, I make this creamy basil pesto in a food processor. If you don’t have one, a personal blender or mortar and pestle will work too.

  1. Pulse basil and olive oil in a food processor (per the recipe below) to make a paste.
  2. Slowly add the remaining ingredients in order and pulse until smooth.
  3. Season with salt to taste.
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.
  • My personal favorite way to freeze pesto is to put 1 tablespoon measures into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag and pull out a cube or two as needed.

Delicious Pesto Recipes

Add pesto to summer pasta salads, spread it on sandwiches, add it to a Caprese salad or serve with your favorite bruschetta.

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

Easy Homemade Basil Pesto in a jar
4.91 from 43 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Easy Homemade Basil Pesto

Fresh basil 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
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  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves 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 divided


  • 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.
  • Taste and season with additional salt if desired.


Pesto can be added to hot pasta but should not be cooked as it can separate.
Basil – Short on Basil? Add in some other herbs or greens. Try parsley, dill, spinach, kale, or arugula.
Oil – Choose a light-flavored oil – Canola oil, grapeseed oil, or avocado oil work too.
Nuts – Toast and cool the nuts for extra flavor. Pine nuts can be replaced with walnuts or almonds.
Refrigerate leftover pesto for 2-3 days or freeze for longer storage.
4.91 from 43 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 Dip, Dressing, Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian
jar of Easy Homemade Basil Pesto with basil and pine nuts and a title
close up of Easy Homemade Basil Pesto with a title
Easy Homemade Basil Pesto with pine nuts and writing
Easy Homemade Basil Pesto in a jar and close up with writing



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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. Excellent recipe. I had never made pesto before and had quite of bit of basil in a pot that needed to be used up now that the weather is cooling down a bit. The whole family loved it.5 stars

  2. Excellent recipe and I will be using it at the end of the summer when I need to do something with all the basil growing on my balcony! If I could make one suggestion regarding freezing in ice cube trays… if you line the tray with plastic wrap before filling with the pesto, it will make it much easier to remove the frozen cubes and eliminate the cleanup of the ice cube tray. I use this method whenever I freeze anything in ice cube trays, chicken broth, tomato paste, pesto, you name it.5 stars

  3. 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. Thank you for the tip! I was pretty disappointed as well. Adding lemon really helped but still not what I was hoping for.4 stars

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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!!!