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!
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 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.
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.
- Pulse basil and olive oil in a food processor (per the recipe below) to make a paste.
- Slowly add the remaining ingredients in order and pulse until smooth.
- Season with salt to taste.
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.
Did you love this Basil Pesto? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
Easy Homemade Basil Pesto
- 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.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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