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Basil pesto is a classic Italian sauce that is incredibly versatile and easy to make. Whether you’re using it as a dip for bread, for this delicious pesto-stuffed chicken, or as a topping for a summer salad, this fragrant and flavorful sauce is sure to impress.

Pesto was one of the first sauces I ever learned to make! It is still to this day, one of my favorite’s too! If you are every in a cooking slump and not sure what to make, try adding basil pesto to almost any type of salad, meat or veggie for a new delicious flavor!

Not to mention, it is just so easy to whip up! My teenage son makes this one all the time, he says he is going to use it to impress the ladies someday! Ha!

Why We Love This Recipe

First and foremost, the reason we love to make basil pesto from scratch is simple, because it just tastes better! There really is no comparison to making your own fresh basil pesto and if your are lucky enough to be able to grow a garden and your own herbs, it will be even better! Don’t believe me, just give this recipe a try!

Another one of the reasons we love this recipe is because it allows us to customize the flavors to our liking. If we are feeling a little garlicky, we can adjust the amount of garlic. Want a pop ofparmesann, add more cheese, or nuts to create a pesto that is perfect for our taste buds. Sometimes, I will add a touch more toasted pine nuts, garlic or parmesan depending on what flavor I want to shine through.

Additionally, making pesto from scratch is much more affordable than buying it pre-made at the store, and it ensures that we know exactly what ingredients are going into our food. This recipe for basil pesto is simple, requiring only a few fresh ingredients and a food processor or blender.

Basil Pesto Ingredient Substitutes

If you are looking for some suggestions to make it suitable for vegans or to add a twist to the traditional recipe, try one of these ideas:

  1. Cut The Cheese ( no pun intended ha!) – Replace Parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese to maintain the cheesy flavor while making it suitable for vegans.
  2. Change Out The Nuts – Pine nuts not your thing? Or maybe they are just too darn expensive ( honestly though, they are like little nuggets of gold that are a small fortune to purchase). Make use of alternative nuts like walnuts, cashews or almonds in place of pine nuts for a more budget-friendly option or to switch up the texture.
  3. No Basil Pesto – Exchange the basil with other greens such as spinach or arugula to add some complexity to the pesto’s taste.

Basil Pesto From Scratch

In case you need to make the pesto sauce from scratch, here is a quick and easy version.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
  1. Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  1. Add the parmesan cheese and pulse again until everything is well combined.
  1. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  1. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Storing Basil Pesto

Basil pesto can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you decide to pre-make pesto and want to freeze it, you can place it in a ziplock bag or airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Of course you can always can your pesto too. This will ensure it stays fresh and delicious for a year or more. Once you open the jar, make sure to keep the pesto refrigerated and consume your basil pesto within a week.

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Tips and Tricks

Does this recipe seem simple enough? It really is a low-effort, quick recipe that will make a HUGE difference in flavor when it is made fresh. Now here are a few other tips or tricks that will make sure your pesto turns out perfectly every time!

  • Use fresh, high-quality ingredients for the best flavor. This includes fresh basil leaves, good quality olive oil, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  • Toasting the pine nuts before adding them to the pesto will bring out their nutty flavor.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender or even a mortar and pestle to make the pesto.
  • If the pesto is too thick, you can thin it out with a little bit of pasta water.
basil pest recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I freeze basil pesto?

Yes, you can freeze basil pesto for up to 6 months. To freeze, transfer the pesto to an airtight container or freezer bag and store in the freezer.

Can I use a different type of nut instead of pine nuts?

Yes, you can use walnuts, almonds, or even cashews in place of pine nuts.

Can I make pesto without cheese?

Yes, you can make a vegan version of pesto by omitting the cheese or using a vegan cheese substitute.

How long does basil pesto last in the refrigerator?

Homemade pesto will last for up to a week in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container.

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big bowl of basil pesto

How To Make Fresh Basil Pesto

Basil pesto is a classic sauce that is easy to make. Try adding it to almost any type of salad, meat or veggie for a new delicious flavor!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: food & recipes, from scratch recipes
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: basil, basil pesto, easy recipe, easy sauce, how to make pesto, pesto, pesto recipe
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 621kcal
Cost: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basil leaves fresh, packed
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup olive oil extra-virgin
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts toasted
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled
  • Salt and black pepper freshly ground, to taste

Instructions

  • Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
    toasting pine nuts to make basil pesto
  • Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
    Basil, pine nuts, olive oil and garlic in a food processor for making basil pesto
  • Add the parmesan cheese and pulse again until everything is well combined.
    making basil pesto using a food processor
  • With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
    basil, pine nuts, olive oil and garlic blended in a food processor for making basil pesto
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Your homemade pesto is now ready! You can use it immediately or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Enjoy!
    fresh basil pesto in an airtight jar to be stored in the fridge

Video

Notes

Tips And Tricks For Making Basil Pesto
  • Use fresh, high-quality ingredients for the best flavor. This includes fresh basil leaves, good quality olive oil, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  • Toasting the pine nuts before adding them to the pesto will bring out their nutty flavor.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender or even a mortar and pestle to make the pesto.
  • If the pesto is too thick, you can thin it out with a little bit of pasta water.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 621kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 1858mg | Potassium: 521mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3202IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 736mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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