Fresh Basil Pesto

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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

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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

  • 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.

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

© Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Please view my photo use policy here.

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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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!

See more posts by Holly

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