Easy Pesto Pasta

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Pesto Pasta preparation might surprise you it serves 8 people and takes just 15 minutes to throw together! Sound too good to be true? Well, pesto spaghetti definitely tastes too good to be true! 

titled: Pesto Pasta Recipe


Fresh basil is best enjoyed in the summer through the fall, so spaghetti with pesto sauce will taste the best during the warmer months of the year.

ingredients to make pesto spaghetti

Pesto Pasta

Pasta is one of those irreplaceable weeknight wonders. It’s ready in no time, is super filling, and is totally inexpensive.

And since you can serve it with just about any vegetables, meats, or seasonings, you can make something every member of your family will enjoy!

Fresh basil and pine nuts give this pesto pasta a full, herbaceous flavor, and smooth olive oil gives it a luxurious texture.

What else? Everyone’s favorite: parmesan cheese! Throw in some garlic and just a dash of salt and pepper.

Simple, natural flavors piled onto your plate in no time. Try my Chicken Bellagio for an amazingly delicious dish.

Love pesto? Don’t worry — there’s more where that came from! Try this baked tortellini, cheesy chicken pasta bake, or Instant Pot chicken pesto!

overhead: pesto ingredients in food processor

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Basil – This herb has a very strong flavor — it’s sweet and peppery at the same time, but also savory and minty.

    You don’t really want to swap it out, but spinach, kale, parsley, and cilantro can sub in for a somewhat similar flavor.

    Or, try using a mix for a more complex flavor in your pesto pasta!
  • Pine Nuts – You can use walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, or hazelnuts instead. Or you can leave them out altogether if you’re not too nuts about nuts!
  • Olive Oil – Extra virgin olive oil is the way to go with basil pesto pasta — actually, with almost any recipe that calls for it!

    It has the most flavor out of your olive oil options.
  • Spaghetti – You can actually use any pasta you like! Short, tubed pasta is a popular choice for basil pesto pasta, but really any kind will do.
blended pesto sauce in food processor

Basil Pesto Pasta Recipe Tips

  • Don’t rinse the noodles. 

You don’t want to rinse the pasta before tossing it in the pesto. The starches help the sauce cling to the noodles, so the stickier they are, the better!

  • Use freshly shredded cheese. 

Grate a fresh wedge of parmesan for this pesto pasta recipe. None of that powdered stuff — fresh tastes so much better!

Fresh cheese also has fewer additives and chemicals, so it’s healthier too.

  • Slow and steady wins the race!  

When making the pesto, add the olive oil slowly and gradually until you get just the right thickness and consistency.

Keep in mind, you can always add more oil, but you can’t take it away!

small jar of pesto with pesto spaghetti in background

Storing and Reheating Leftover Pesto Spaghetti

I’ll be honest — this pesto pasta recipe makes a whole lot of sauce! Like, enough to coat 4 pounds of cooked spaghetti!!! 

Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze it for up to 6 months.

Of course, you can just as easily make a half batch of this basil pesto pasta recipe if that’s better for you. 

Once the noodles are coated in sauce, it actually tastes better if it sits overnight in the fridge! Just like the pesto, enjoy your leftovers within 5 days.

You can reheat basil pesto pasta in the microwave in 15-second bursts until warm, or enjoy it cold.

Pesto Pasta Recipe FAQ

Is pesto healthy? 

With Mediterranean dishes, there are plenty of vitamins in pesto to get excited about!

Basil is rich in vitamins K and A, while olive oil contains antioxidants and helps to lower blood pressure as well as inflammation.

As with all things, however, the key lies in moderation. Too much olive oil is unhealthy, so don’t overload each meal with the stuff. A serving of pesto is just enough! 

What meat goes with pesto pasta?

I think that chicken, especially when grilled or baked, is the best protein to serve with pesto pasta.

But steak, pork, seafood — any of it goes well with the olive oil, herbs, and seasonings that are in the mix.

My favorite ways to use pesto sauce are to coat the protein with the pesto and bake it, or use the mixture as a marinade before grilling the meat. Then, serve over tender noodles!

Serving Suggestions

Almost any vegetable makes a great side with pesto spaghetti. Potatoes, roasted peppers, and tomatoes are excellent choices.

Don’t forget to add some greens — my copycat Olive Garden Salad and Italian Dressing would be fabulous!

plate of pesto spaghetti topped with freshly grated parmesan

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twirling pesto pasta with a fork

Other Easy Pasta Recipes

pesto pasta closeup

Easy Pesto Pasta

Donna Elick
Pesto Pasta combines simple ingredients for an Italian meal that explodes with flavor! This basil pesto pasta recipe is perfect for summer!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Method Stovetop
Servings 8


  • 4 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 8 cloves garlic, or 3 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil, adjusted if necessary (See Notes)
  • 2 pounds uncooked spaghetti, or pasta of choice


  • Add basil, garlic, cheese, pine nuts, salt, and pepper to a food processor and process on high power until mostly smooth.
  • With the processor running on low power, very slowly drizzle the oil into the food processor, stopping when desired consistency is reached. (More or less than ¾ cup may be used).
  • Cook 2 pounds of pasta to al dente. Drain water, but do not rinse pasta; Transfer pasta to a serving dish, toss with ½ of the pesto and serve while hot.

Donna’s Notes

More or less olive oil can be blended into the pesto sauce to reach your desired consistency.
You will have enough pesto sauce for about 4 lbs of pasta. Store leftover sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days.
The recipe can easily be reduced to make a half or quarter batch.
This is a very classic and flavorful pesto sauce that goes great with pasta, on pizza, eggs, and poultry.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 689cal | Carbohydrates: 88g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 690mg | Sugar: 3g | Fiber: 4g | Calcium: 129mg | Iron: 3mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image (and shown): pesto pasta closeup

Originally published July 2022, updated and republished August 2023

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  1. 5 stars
    I love making pesto pasta for family dinners, and this one was great! Loved that there was extra sauce to save and use later.

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