Fresh, homemade Pesto is perfect for pastas and more and so easy to make! The bright herb taste makes any boring weeknight dish amazing!
Why We Love Homemade Pesto
- Basil pesto is a bright, fresh sauce that perfectly complements pasta, pizzas, chicken, bread and so much more.
- If you have lots of basil, as we sometimes do in the summer, then learning to make your own pesto sauce is the answer as to what to do with all that basil!
- This recipe takes only minutes to make so it’s a wonderful way to incorporate something fresh into a weeknight meal. Our favorite is simple pesto pasta with grilled chicken.
- If you have leftover pesto or like the idea of making some for later, pesto freezes well and defrosts fast so you can enjoy pesto any time!
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Homemade Pesto
PRODUCE: Since basil is the star of the show you will need quite a bit for this pesto. Check out the Tips section about what to add or use in place of some of the basil. You will also need fresh garlic or garlic paste.
NUTS: Pine nuts are the traditional nut to use in pesto recipes. While pine nuts can be expensive, this recipe is for a large batch and will serve many people or provide a lot of pesto for later. Other nuts that can be used are walnuts, almonds, pistachios or unsalted sunflower seeds.
PARMESAN: Fresh pesto is even better with freshly grated parmesan cheese but go with what you like.
PANTRY ITEMS: You will need salt and pepper, as well as olive oil. Grab your favorite pasta to toss with this pesto too!
How to Make PestoJump to Recipe
STEP 1 To a food processor, add the basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Blend the ingredients until everything is pretty smooth.
STEP 2 Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is blending. Depending on the consistency you like, more or less olive oil will be used, so check the pesto often.
STEP 3 Boil the pasta to al dente, according to the package directions. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, toss the pasta with 1/4 cup of the pasta and serve.
Tips & Tricks
- The amount of pesto this recipe makes is enough to serve with four pounds of pasta. This means there is enough to freeze for later, if you wish. You could also simply cut the recipe in a half or even double it, depending on how many people you are serving. I like to freeze leftover pesto in ice cube trays and once frozen, I pop them out into an airtight container or food storage bag and freeze them until I need some.
- A food processor is really the best tool for this job. You get a really nice pesto that coats well, unlike using a blender. Using a blender cuts everything so finely that you’re left with a pesto-like soup, which does not make for good eats.
- Feel free to use other greens in your pesto as well, like a combination of basil and arugula. If you have a lot of carrot top greens, those would be delicious too! You can toss in spinach, cilantro, or even veggies, such as roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes. Experiment and see what you like!
- Pesto is amazing on just about anything you can think of, not just pasta! Pesto stores well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, so after having it with pasta, try it with eggs, a pesto chicken sandwich, or on a homemade pizza the next day.
Pesto Sauce FAQ
What is pesto?
Pesto is an uncooked sauce that originated in Italy. Pesto is traditionally made with basil, pine nuts, salt, garlic, parmesan, and olive oil and served with pasta. This delicious sauce is the perfect complement to so many other foods, however, and is globally loved.
Is making your own pesto worth it?
The fresh taste of homemade pesto is more than enough reason to make your own! The extra ingredients used to keep jarred basil and cheese good causes the pesto to turn out more dense and heavy than homemade pesto and there is an obvious lack of freshness. Is it easier to just buy premade pesto? Eh, maybe. It really is so fast to make this yourself. Some of the ingredients needed to make homemade pesto can be a little pricey, which is why it can be a great idea to use alternatives. Substitute walnuts or almonds for the pine nuts, for example, and use a combination of greens with the basil. Once you make homemade pesto you’ll taste this difference and you will be hooked!
What can I use instead of pine nuts in pesto?
Pine nuts can be expensive at times and although a jar can last you some time if you make small batches of pesto, sometimes it is more feasible to purchase a different nut. Nuts like walnuts, pistachios, and almonds are popular choices and are really delicious in pesto. If you need to go a nut-free route, that’s easy to do too! Sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are excellent alternatives.
Other Recipes You May like
- Pesto Mashed Potatoes
- Sheet Pan Chicken Sliders 4 Ways
- Homemade Pizza Dough
- Sun-Dried Tomato & Balsamic Shrimp Pasta
- 5- Minute Skillet Tortilla Pizza
Homemade Pesto Recipe
- Add the basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, salt, and pepper to a food processor. Cover and process until mostly smooth.
- Slowly add the olive oil to the food processor while it's running until your desired consistency is reached. (More or less than 3/4 cup of oil may be needed.)
- Cook 1 pound of pasta to al dente, drain, and toss with ¼ of the pesto and serve with extra parmesan on top.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.