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This homemade Basil Pesto is the perfect from scratch recipe! My ultimate pesto recipe is so easy to make and adds so much flavor to so many recipes. If food could be a perfume, I’d want this one. Make a batch of pesto for dinner today!

Overhead shot of easy basil pesto in a small glass dish with spoon coming out

Best Recipe for Basil Pesto

I’ll never forget the first time I saw pesto: I was in college and hanging out at my boyfriend’s apartment. His roommate brought home a pesto pizza and it was the weirdest thing I’d ever seen. A green sauce on pizza? No thanks!

I then started to grow basil in my garden when I met my husband, and expanded my palate to new things. I have to say, I fell in love with pesto after trying it a few times but I my infatuation with it didn’t start until I began making homemade pesto myself.

Not only is it delicious, but pesto is easy to make from scratch. This classic recipe is a game changer: it’s one of the best sauces that you can use in so many ways. Store-bought pesto is good, but homemade pesto is so much better!

ingredients in pesto laid out on a white counter.

Basil Pesto Ingredients

  • Basil: Traditionally, pesto is made with fresh basil leaves. I love the smell of basil! You must use FRESH basil for the best pesto. The basil is why it’s called green pesto!
  • Toasted pine nuts: These add a nutty flavor to the sauce and are a super important component. Check the bulk bin section so you don’t have to buy a whole package.
  • Parmesan cheese: Use a block of parmesan – not pre shredded and don’t use the green can.
  • Garlic: A must in pesto!
  • Olive oil: The oil is the emulsifier in the recipe – what makes it sauce. So be sure to use a good quality oil (we love extra virgin olive oil).

Recipe Swaps

  • Make Pistachio or Walnut Pesto by using walnuts in place of pine nuts, or you can use almonds.
  • Same if you want to make my pesto recipe with almonds!
  • Lemon Basil Pesto – add lemon juice from half a lemon before the oil.
  • Tomato Pesto – instead of using basil, use a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil (you’ll need less olive oil this way).
  • Spicy Pesto – add some red Chile flakes to the mixture with the cheese and garlic.
  • Swap arugula, cilantro, or parsley for the basil.
  • Pecorino Romano cheese works as well
  • Add some freshly ground black pepper for extra flavor.
4 images showing how to make pesto.

How to make Classic Basil Pesto Recipe

  1. Toast your pine nuts for a deeper flavor. Stir them often until they just start to get golden and don’t walk away from the stove. Nuts burn fast so keep a close eye on them. While toasting the pine nuts isn’t absolutely required, it adds a toasty depth of flavor to the pesto sauce, so I highly recommend it.
  2. Pesto is made in a food processor (or you can use a powerful blender). It only takes about 5 minutes! All you have to do to make the pesto is add the basil, garlic, nuts, and Parmesan cheese to the food processor.
  3. Pulse to chop the ingredients fine.
  4. Then add your extra-virgin olive oil slowly, while the machine is running, to for the pesto sauce.

What goes with pesto?

There are so many uses for my ultimate pesto recipe! One recipe makes just over a cup of pesto and can be used in several meals:

Small glass dish of easy basil pesto with pine nuts and basil leaves behind it


  • Store homemade pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for just a few days. There are no preservatives so it will not last as long as store-bought.
  • You can freeze pesto too – either in an airtight container or portion it into an ice cube tray and place in the freezer. Then store the pesto ice cubes in baggies for easy grab and go dinners.


How do you store homemade pesto?

Since homemade pesto doesn’t have preservatives, it will only last (at most) a week in the refrigerator. I recommend planning two or three uses for your fresh pesto, or you can freeze it.

spoon scooping pesto out of a clear jar.

Best Homemade Basil Pesto

4.87 from 23 votes
This easy homemade basil pesto sauce is the perfect from scratch recipe! Homemade pesto is so easy to make and adds so much flavor to so many meals.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 8 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves fresh
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup fresh parmesan cheese
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt to taste
  • ½ – ¾ cup (118-177ml) olive oil
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  • Place pine nuts in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Stir often, cooking for just a few minutes, until they start to brown. Remove from heat and cool.
  • Place basil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan in a the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until a paste forms. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pulse to combine.
  • While running the machine, pour in olive oil, starting with 1/2 cup. Once the pesto emulsifies it will become a thick sauce. If you want thinner pest, add another 1/4 cup olive oil.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Recipe from The Simple Kitchen by Donna & Chad Elick

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 55kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 100mg | Potassium: 48mg | Vitamin A: 365IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American

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Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

4.87 from 23 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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