Jun 7, 2023

Easy Pesto Recipe

Looking for a quick and breezy way to whip up a tasty and versatile sauce? You definitely found it! My easy pesto recipe will have your taste buds dancing with joy. Trust me, I've been a home cook for over 30 years, and this pesto recipe is a winner.

In this article, we'll show you how to make this easy pesto recipe that's so much better than store-bought pesto, and we'll share some tips and ideas for using it in a variety of dishes. Let's get started!

Easy Pesto Recipe in a Jar with Toasted Baguette Slices on a dark tray with a dark background

So, What Exactly is Pesto Anyway?

I'm glad you asked! Pesto is a traditional sauce that hails all the way from Italy. 
It's made with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil all blended together to create a symphony of flavors. The result? A savory, nutty, and slightly tangy taste that will have you licking your plate clean.
Easy Pesto Recipe in Scalloped Pewter Bowl with Fresh Basil Garnish

The Ingredients You'll Need

These ingredients are carefully selected in traditional pesto recipes to achieve the characteristic flavors and textures that make pesto so delightful. The basil provides freshness, the pine nuts give it a nutty crunch, the Parmesan adds depth and richness, the garlic adds a punch, and the olive oil brings it all together into a cohesive sauce.
  • Fresh basil leaves: Choose vibrant and fragrant basil leaves for the best flavor. Fresh basil is the star ingredient in pesto, giving it a fresh and herbaceous taste.
  • Pine nuts: Look for plump and golden pine nuts. They add a nutty flavor and slightly gritty texture to the pesto. Toasting the pine nuts enhances their flavor even more.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese: Opt for high-quality Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself for optimal taste. Parmesan adds a nutty and salty taste, complementing the other ingredients in the pesto.
  • Minced garlic: Fresh garlic is key here. Use about 3 cloves or adjust according to your preference. Garlic adds a pungent and aromatic flavor that enhances the overall taste of the pesto.
  • Kosher Salt: A pinch of salt helps to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients and balance the taste of the pesto.
  • Black pepper: A touch of black pepper adds a subtle kick and depth of flavor to the pesto.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: Choose a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil for the best taste. The olive oil binds all the ingredients together, adds richness, and contributes to the smooth and creamy texture of the pesto.
Pesto Ingredients in Food Processor Bowl

How to Make this Easy Pesto

Here's the lowdown on how to make this delightful pesto. Grab your trusty food processor or blender and let's get cooking. Combine the pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of your processor or blender.
Pesto Ingredients Processed in Food Processor Bowl
Give it a few pulses to break down the ingredients.
Adding Fresh Basil to Food Processor Bowl for Pesto Recipe
Next, add the basil
Blended Pesto Ingredients with Fresh Basil in Food Processor Bowl
and pulse some more to get everything nicely combined.
Adding Olive Oil to Food Processor for Basil Pesto Recipe

Now comes the fun part. With your machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream until you achieve that smooth and creamy consistency. 
Don't forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Ready-to-Use Basil Pesto in Food Processor

Once you're satisfied with the consistency, give it a little taste test, you can always adjust the seasoning with a pinch more salt or garlic if you like.
Easy Pesto Recipe in a Jar with Toasted Baguette Slices

Variations on Nuts for Pesto: Mix Up Your Recipe

Now, let's talk about how you can get creative with your pesto. While pine nuts are the classic choice, don't be afraid to mix things up. Try toasted walnuts for a rich and earthy flavor, or opt for almonds if you're feeling a bit nuttier. If you're in the mood for something slightly tangy, pistachios are the way to go.

And for all my vegan and dairy-free folks out there, toasted cashews will give you that creamy and buttery texture you crave.

Variations on Cheeses to Use in Pesto

We can't forget about the cheese. While Parmesan is the traditional pick, there's a whole world of cheeses to explore. Pecorino Romano will add some sharpness and tang, while asiago offers a milder and slightly sweet flavor. If you're a fan of tangy creaminess, goat cheese is your best friend. And for a crumbly and salty twist, give feta a try.

By experimenting with different nuts and cheeses, you can create a wide range of pesto variations that are perfect for different dishes and occasions. Whether you're making a classic basil pesto or trying something new and creative, these variations will help you take your pesto game to the next level.

Tips and Variations

Here are a few extra tips and variations to keep in mind when making homemade pesto. Toasting the pine nuts is totally optional, but it adds a delightful nuttiness to your pesto. And if you're looking to make a vegan version, swap out the Parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast. Vegan pesto is a great option for those who are looking for a dairy-free alternative that's just as delicious as the original.

Uses for Pesto

Now that you have your homemade pesto, let's dive into the endless possibilities of basil pesto recipes. My favorite way to use this Easy Pesto Sauce is to simply toss it with cooked pasta for a heavenly pesto pasta dinner.

Slather it on top of chicken breasts before baking or grilling for an extra burst of flavor.

Spread it on a pizza crust and go crazy with your favorite toppings for a mouthwatering pesto pizza.

Or take it to the next level and create a tantalizing pesto sandwich with sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and arugula.

If you're feeling snacky, pesto also makes a fantastic dip for veggies or crackers.

How to Store Pesto: Tips for Keeping It Fresh

Storing your precious pesto is crucial to keep it fresh and tasty. Pop it into an airtight container like a mason jar or a tight-sealing plastic container. Remember to refrigerate it to maintain its freshness. It'll stay good for about a week, although I recommend using it within a few days for the best flavor.

To prevent oxidation and browning, you can drizzle a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the pesto before sealing the container. This not only preserves its vibrant green color but also helps to keep it fresh.

Freezing Pesto

If you want to keep your pesto for longer than a week, freezing is the way to go. Spoon your pesto into any freezer safe container and freeze for up to six months. 

If you need to save space in the freezer (who doesn't), give this nifty trick a try.  Spoon the pesto into an ice cube tray and let it freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer the pesto cubes into a freezer bag or container and store them in the freezer for up to six months.

Freezing your pesto sauce ensures you always have a stash of homemade pesto on hand for those busy days when you need a quick and easy meal.

Recipes Using Pesto

Remember, pesto is incredibly versatile. Besides pasta, sandwiches, and pizza, you can get creative and use it in various dishes to add a burst of flavor. The possibilities are endless! Here are just a few of my favorites to get you started:

So, my fellow home cooks, embrace the joy of making your own pesto with this easy and foolproof recipe. Fresh basil is a must, and feel free to experiment with different nuts and cheeses to create your signature pesto. Store it properly to maintain its freshness, and don't forget to freeze some for future culinary adventures. Get ready to impress your family and friends with the incredible taste of homemade pesto. Enjoy every delicious spoonful!

Homemade Basil Pesto, Easy Pesto Recipe
Yield: 8
Author: Life Tastes Good
Easy Pesto Recipe

Easy Pesto Recipe

Prep time: 15 MinTotal time: 15 Min
Discover the ultimate easy pesto recipe! With fresh basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and a food processor, you'll have a flavorful sauce in no time.


  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves garlic), adjust to your liking
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil or more to thin as needed


  1. In a food processor or blender, combine 1/2 cup pine nuts, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Pulse several times to break down the ingredients. Add the 2 cups of fresh basil and pulse to combine.
  2. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup of olive oil in a slow and steady stream until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add more olive oil as needed to achieve the consistency you prefer.
  3. Taste the pesto and adjust the seasoning as needed with more salt or garlic.
  4. Transfer the pesto to a clean glass jar or container with a lid. If not using immediately, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 6 months.


  • Always use fresh basil. Fresh herbs elevate many dishes, but it is a must when making pesto.
  • To make pesto the traditional way, use a mortar and pestle instead of a food processor.
  • Toast the pine nuts first for a nuttier flavor.
  • To make this pesto vegan, use nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan cheese.
  • You can substitute other nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, for the pine nuts if desired.
  • For a nut-free pesto, use sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds) instead of nuts.
  • Use a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
  • If the pesto is too thick, add more olive oil to thin it out to your desired consistency.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

21.06 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

3.24 g

Carbs (grams)

2.38 g

Fiber (grams)

0.43 g

Net carbs

1.94 g

Sugar (grams)

0.33 g

Protein (grams)

3.26 g

Sodium (milligrams)

182.9 mg

Cholesterol (grams)

5.44 mg

Nutrition label disclaimer: Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

How long does homemade pesto last?

Homemade pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. If you want to keep it for a longer period, it can be frozen for up to three months.

Is it necessary to use fresh basil for pesto?

Yes, it is highly recommended to use fresh basil when making pesto. Dried pesto simply won't work for this recipe.

Can I make vegan pesto?

Yes, you can make vegan pesto by substituting the Parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast and ensuring you use a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. This allows you to enjoy a dairy-free alternative that is just as delicious as the original.

Can I use a blender instead of a food processor to make pesto?

Yes, you can use a blender as an alternative to a food processor to make pesto. While a food processor is typically recommended for making pesto due to its wide bowl and sharp blades, a blender can also do the job effectively.

How can I store leftover pesto?

To store leftover pesto, transfer it to a clean glass jar or container with a lid. Keep it refrigerated, and it will remain fresh for up to one week. If you want to store it for a longer period, freeze it in ice cube trays and then transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag or container for up to six months.

Can I use pre-grated Parmesan cheese?

Yes, you can use pre-grated Parmesan cheese as a convenient option for making pesto. However, it's important to note that freshly grated Parmesan cheese tends to have a better flavor and texture compared to pre-grated cheese. The pre-grated variety often contains additives to prevent clumping, which can affect the taste and consistency of the pesto.


  1. I adore pesto...and I've never found a store brand that is as good as homemade. Yours looks perfect!

    1. Same here, Liz! Pesto is one of my favorite things, and I use it all the time! I bought a store brand once thinking it would save me time, but it was barely palatable.

  2. I truly am going to make this today.I have every single ingredient already on hand, and need to get that basil used before it is gone! Basil is my current favorite flavor. Fantastic!

    1. Fantastic, Rachael! If you love basil then I know you'll love it :) This is really a basic recipe for pesto. I sometimes add in a little heat or even spinach to mix things up. It's fun to play around with the flavors and come up with something new.

  3. Pesto is one of my favorite things, the flavor combination is amazing! Love the tip about adjusting the thickness of it.

    1. Me too, Mary Ellen! I can eat it with just about anything, but throw it on a tomato with some mozzarella and I'm good to go!

  4. Putting pesto on burgers sounds wonderful! I got lucky with my basil this year! I definitely lack the green thumb :)

    1. We really enjoyed it. So much so, we made burgers again last night to use up the last little bit of pesto :) ! Oh man, I hope I get lucky with my pesto some year. My neighbor across the street grows it like mad, but I just can't seem to get it going. Maybe next year....

  5. Wow Marion! Your photos are gorgeous and this looks like just about the tastiest thing ever! I love pesto and thanks to this posting, now I'm craving it!

    1. Thanks so much, Erica! I think pesto is pretty close to the tastiest thing ever haha

  6. I could so go for some of this right now! Great photos and recipe!!

  7. I could seriously put this on everything! I think I will try pasta with shrimp. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Me too! It is great with pasta and shrimp. Thanks for stopping by :)

  8. Loving the gorgeous green color of this pesto! Beautiful photos as usual!

  9. This looks so delicious, Marion! And what a tasty way to use up that outdoor basil before the temps drop! :)

  10. I love this. I should make a batch for my Chicken with Peso Cream Sauce.

    1. It would be delicious in your recipe!! Thanks, Michele!

  11. Pesto is one of the best ways to add BIG flavor to a dish. Marion, your photos are gorgeous!

  12. I just found your blog and love it. You can never have too much pesto. I always freeze my leftover pesto.

    1. Thanks, Gerlinde! Happy to meet you! I love that pesto freezes so well. It is great to have on hand!!

  13. I like my pesto thick too. This looks delicious! And the photos are amazing!

  14. Your pictures are gorgeous! I adore pesto and I love the idea of smothering a burger in it - yum! Your pest looks perfect!

  15. Homemade is the only way to go as far as I'm concerned! Looks good!


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