You’ll never want store-bought jarred pesto again after you taste the fresh, vibrant flavors of this Homemade Basil Pesto. This versatile sauce (or condiment) is quick and easy to prepare using simple ingredients.
I recently had an overabundance of basil, so what else was there to do except make fresh pesto? This sauce is a delicious blend of fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.
If you’ve never had homemade pesto, you’re in for a treat!
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Freezer-friendly: This sauce freezes beautifully to enjoy later.
- Versatility: Pesto can be enjoyed in so many ways!
- Easily customizable: Homemade pesto can be adjusted to your personal taste. Prefer a milder garlic flavor? Use less garlic. Want a nuttier pesto? Add more pine nuts or try different types of nuts. You’re in control and can tweak the recipe as you see fit.
- Fresh basil – Basil leaves that have been rinsed in cold water and patted dry with a paper towel. I love to use this salad spinner to save time!
- Parmesan cheese – Using freshly grated Parmesan is best, but bottled Parmesan can be used if you’re short on time.
- Pine nuts – Different types of nuts can be substituted for pine nuts (please see substitutions below).
- Olive oil – Extra virgin
- Lemon juice – Helps to prevent browning and brightens the flavor.
- Fresh garlic
- Salt and black pepper
How to Make Pesto
Following is a brief overview of how to prepare – please see the recipe card for full detailed instructions.
- Place basil, pine nuts, garlic and lemon juice in the bowl of your food processor.
- Cover and pulse until combined.
- While the processor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil.
- Add Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper and pulse until combined.
- Use fresh ingredients: Use freshly grated Parmesan and fresh garlic for the best flavor.
- Avoid overprocessing: You want the pesto to have texture, so be careful not to overprocess.
- Olive oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
- Scrape the bowl: In between pulsing, scrape the sides of the processor bowl using a silicone spatula to ensure the ingredients are well combined.
How to Freeze Pesto
Pesto can be frozen in small jars, resealable plastic bags, covered plastic containers, or in ice cube trays for easy portion control.
If freezing in ice cube trays, spoon the pesto into the tray and freeze until solid. Remove the frozen cubes and place them in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
Cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, and sesame seeds are good substitutions for pine nuts in pesto.
Pesto is delicious with pasta, chicken, beef, seafood, as a spread on sandwiches and wraps, as a sauce on pizza, or even swirled into mashed potatoes!
Absolutely! Pesto can also be prepared in a blender. You may need to scrape the sides of the blender pitcher more frequently than when using a food processor since blenders are narrower and deeper.
Homemade Basil Pesto
- 3 ½ cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves rinsed with cold water and patted dry with paper towels
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¾ cup olive oil extra virgin
- ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt more or less, to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper more or less, to taste
- Place basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic cloves, and lemon juice in the bowl of your food processor. Cover and pulse until combined.
- While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil.
- Add Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Pulse until combined (do not overprocess – you want the sauce to have some texture).
- Store in a jar or an airtight container and refrigerate for 5 to 7 days. Stir before serving.
- This recipe yields approximately 1 ¼ cups, which is 10 servings at 2 tablespoons each.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl using a silicone spatula in between pulsing to ensure the ingredients are combined well.
- To freeze: Freeze in small jars, resealable plastic bags, covered plastic containers, or in ice cube trays for easy portion control. If freezing in ice cube trays, spoon the pesto into the tray and freeze until solid. Remove the frozen cubes and place them in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
If provided, nutritional info is a courtesy, is not guaranteed and should only be considered as a guideline.