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Basil Pesto

Basil pesto is a great way to add flavor and freshness to any dish. It is quick and easy to make, and you can even freeze it for later use.

You can use this basil pesto as a sauce for pasta, as a spread on sandwiches and pizza, or drizzle it over tomato soup before serving.

basil pesto

Pesto is incredibly versatile and an easy way to add big flavor to any recipe.

With a few ingredient substitutions, it is easy to change up the flavors and make hazelnut pesto, tomato pesto, mint pesto, or any other variation you can dream up.

Try our prosciutto-pesto-pasta for a quick weeknight dinner, or elevate a simple grilled chicken to gourmet status with a dollop of pesto. 

Here is Why You Will Love This Recipe:

  • Fast and easy to make thanks to the food processor.
  • Adds flavor to any dish
  • Gluten free
  • Freezable. Make it in advance and keep it in the freezer for quick meal prep. 

The Ingredients:

  • Basil leaves. Italian basil is traditional for pesto but you can use Thai basil for hints of spiciness or lemon basil for a bit of zing. We have even used purple basil for a fun color.
  • Pine nuts. You can use raw pine nuts or toast them for a nutty, toasted flavor.
  • Fresh Garlic. If you have extra large garlic cloves, use a bit less so it doesn’t overpower the pesto.
  • Parmesan cheese. Purchase a block of cheese instead of the pre-grated stuff. It is so much better.
  • Olive oil. We love this olive oil for pesto (affiliate link). It has a great flavor and it is affordable.
  • Salt. Adjust the amount of salt to your liking. Parmesan is already a bit salty so you may not need all of the salt.
Ingredients used to make basil pesto.

How to Make It In A Food Processor:

Here is a quick overview of the process for our basil pesto. Using a food processor is the best way to make a large batch. Scroll down to the printable recipe card and check out the tips below.

  1. Place everything but the olive oil and salt in a food processor. Pulse until combined. 
  2. With the processor running, slowly drizzle the olive oil in until you have the consistency you like. 
  3. Taste the pesto and add half of the salt. Taste it once more and add additional salt if needed.

Combining basil, cheese, garlic, pine nuts and salt in a food processor.

Drizzling olive oil in a food processor.
drizzle the olive oil slowly

Tips for Success:

  • Prevent the pesto from turning brown. When you store the pesto, the surface can turn brown from oxidation. If you drizzle a glug of olive oil on the surface, it acts as a barrier to the air, and the pesto will stay green.
  • Freeze in useable portion sizes. Use ice cube trays to portion the pesto into small cubes. You can also fill freezer bags and press the bags flat. Once frozen, you can break off thin chunks to use as needed. 
  • Choose good olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is key to good pesto. We love this olive oil (affiliate link), it gives the pesto a rich, authentic flavor, and it is affordable.
  • Mince the garlic before you add it to the food processor. That way, you won’t risk having large chunks of garlic if it doesn’t get blended well.  

basil pesto

basil pesto

Keep this sauce on hand for quick, easy weeknight meals by adding it to pasta or vegetables and using it as a marinade or sauce with chicken or fish. It makes an otherwise plain dinner pop with flavor.

Helpful Tools:

Some of the following are affiliate links. If you click on these links and purchase something, we may receive a small commission. You don’t pay any extra but it will help us keep the lights on. 

Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

This creamy Lebanese Garlic Sauce has amazing garlic flavor. It’s excellent on grilled meats, falafel, and shawarma, but it’s versatile enough to put on almost everything.

A smoky Mexican mole sauce made with dried chiles, herbs, and spices, plus a little dried fruit and chocolate. Serve with turkey wings or drumsticks or any sort of meat for an incredible meal.

This wonderful Lemon-Dill Aioli Sauce is smooth and creamy, with a distinct dill flavor that pairs perfectly with fish. Try it on our fried rockfish.

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A serving dish filled with pesto.

Basil Pesto

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts create a delicious pesto sauce that freezes well.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (140 grams)
  • ¾ to 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Combine basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, and cheese in a food processor and process with a blade attachment until well blended.
  2. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the oil until you get the consistency you desire.
  3. Taste the pesto and add part or all of the salt according to taste.

Notes

Pesto freezes very well. Try freezing it in ice cube trays so you will have perfectly portioned amounts to add to vegetables, pasta, sandwiches and dips.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 90Total Fat: 9.5gSaturated Fat: 1.9gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 150mgCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 2.4g

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Sabrina

Saturday 7th of January 2017

Great pesto recipe!

Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner

Wednesday 4th of June 2014

Love pesto and yours looks delicious!

Dahn

Wednesday 4th of June 2014

Thanks Tina, it's hard to go wrong with pesto isn't it

Cora

Sunday 1st of June 2014

Wow! This looks amazing! I love the pictures!

Dahn

Monday 2nd of June 2014

Thanks Cora

Kathi @ LaughingSpatula.com

Friday 30th of May 2014

Love Pesto - it was my very first post on my blog! I know you are a Seattleite as well and you can go to the Pike Place Market in September when the basil is on it's last bloom and buy it for a buck a bunch! Pretty smoking deal! Your recipe is exactly like mine so I already know I love it :)

Dahn

Friday 30th of May 2014

Thanks for the tip Kathi, I will look for the good deal on basil in September. I love going to the Pike Place Market :)

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