Saturday, July 31, 2021

Fresh Basil Pesto

Fresh basil pesto has so many uses, and it’s easy to make your own right at home. Just combine everything in a food processor and give it a whirl! 

Trust me - once you try homemade basil pesto, you’ll never go back to store-bought again!

Not only are the flavors so much more vibrant, but it’s easy to make adjustments to suit your personal preferences.

Use this pesto basil sauce in any of my amazing chicken recipes like chilled pasta salad, spaghetti in cream sauce, or a quick and easy tortellini dish.

Fresh Basil Pesto dipping bread into pesto

Fresh Basil Pesto - Helpful Tips and Tricks

  • Choose high quality oil. With such a simple recipe, the flavor of each ingredient really comes through. Invest in a nice bottle of extra virgin olive oil - you won’t regret it!
  • Skip the minced garlic. Fresh cloves blend seamlessly with the other ingredients and don’t have a bitter aftertaste.
  • Brighten it up. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice is a wonderful addition if it seems like your pesto basil sauce is missing something. 
  • Need a bigger batch? Easily double the triple the amounts as long as there is room in your appliance. Or, make multiple smaller batches and stir them all together so the flavors are well balanced.
basil pesto ingredients

Kitchen‌ ‌Tools‌ ‌You‌ ‌Will‌ ‌Need‌ ‌
Serving Suggestions
The possibilities are simply endless! Obviously, you can’t go wrong by stirring this into freshly cooked pasta, but don’t let your imagination stop there.
  • Dip crackers, sliced veggies, or any of your favorite finger foods into this pesto basil sauce.
  • Spread it on sandwiches and wraps for a punch of garlicky herb flavor, or use it to jazz up a gourmet burger.
  • Brush over grilled chicken, steak, fish, and shrimp. Even simple veggie kabobs will benefit from the extra flavor.
  • Stir some into cooked rice and mashed potatoes, or add a dollop to chowder and soups.
  • Combine with extra olive oil, mayonnaise, and more to create a variety of salad dressings and sauces.
  • Bake it into breads and rolls for a fragrant and savory twist.
  • Flavor homemade meatballs or use it as pizza sauce instead of the classic marinara.
  • Create a hearty breakfast by layering a spoonful between eggs and toast.
basil pesto ingredients in the food processor

FAQ‌ ‌-‌ ‌Common‌ ‌Recipe‌ ‌Questions‌

How long does fresh basil pesto last in the refrigerator?
When kept in a sealed jar or airtight container, it should stay fresh for up to one week.

What’s the best way to freeze basil pesto?
Store larger amounts in freezer safe containers and top with a thin layer of olive oil before sealing to prevent browning.

You can also spoon it into an ice cube tray, then transfer to a large storage bag once solid.

Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and use within 6 months for best results.

pesto basil sauce in a clear jar

What can I use instead of Parmesan?
Pecorino Romano or Asiago both have a bolder flavor, but I would omit the additional salt if you try either of these.

If you have allergy concerns, many vegan recipes replace the cheese with 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast instead.


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fresh basil pesto dipping bread

Video: Basil Pesto Sauce

To see us make these from start to finish, watch the video at the top of this post.

Yield: 999
Author: Donna Elick
Fresh Basil Pesto

Fresh Basil Pesto

Fresh basil pesto has so many uses, and it’s easy to make your own right at home. Just combine everything in a food processor and give it a whirl!
Prep time: 5 MinTotal time: 5 Min


  • 3 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Combine all ingredients (except olive oil) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until it forms a smooth paste. Scrape down the bowl (if necessary) and through the pour spout with the processor running, slowly add the olive oil. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate until needed or serve immediately.

Fresh Basil Pesto close up

Originally published June 2012, updated and republished July 2021

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  1. The color here is gorgeous. Great photo! I have pesto on my list this week as well. The basil plants are in abundance!

  2. I believe you can freeze pesto to make it last a little longer. I also sub toasted walnuts or almonds for the pine nuts because they can be a little expensive...

  3. I have been known to make great big batches of pesto at the end of the growing season. Leave out the cheese and line a plastic ice tray with plastic wrap. Drop tablespoons of the prepared pesto into the ice cube tray and freeze. Pop them out once frozen and place in a sealable container until needed. Add freshly grated cheese when ready to use. Drop them in soup, pasta, whatever! Yummmmmy - guess I should have just blogged that one instead of taking up all this room!

  4. che buono questo pesto! molto gustoso, complimenti :D

  5. This is absolutely beautiful! I love to make a roasted veggie pressed sandwich with basil pesto.

  6. I love pesto and I have so much basil growing in my garden! So sad, my husband hates basil AND garlic :(

  7. What is the best part of a basil plant to pick that leaves from? And when in the growing season should they be picked?


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