Perfect Basil Pesto

4.63 from 8 votes

This easy homemade basil pesto sauce is the perfect from scratch recipe! My ultimate pesto recipe is so easy to make and adds so much flavor to so many meals.


basil pesto in jar

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!

Besides the fact that I made it to 19 years old without seeing pesto, it’s not surprising I was grossed out by seeing it on pizza. I was a very picky kid and still am quite…choosy…when it comes to what I like. Condiments are not something I normally eat, much to the shock of most people I know. However, PESTO is one thing I absolutely love.

Once I met my husband I started to branch out in my eating habits and discovered how delicious pesto is. Then, when we first got married, I started a garden and grew my own basil.

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.

Homemade Basil Pesto is a game changer: it’s one of the best sauces that you can use in so many recipes.

basil pesto in jar

Not only is it delicious, but pesto is easy to make from scratch. Jarred pesto is good but homemade pesto is the best.

What is pesto sauce made of?

Traditionally, pesto is made with fresh basil. I love the smell of basil! Besides basil, pesto is made with:

  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil

While basil pesto is my favorite, you can also make it with other greens, like spinach or kale. You can make pesto with walnuts instead of pine nuts. I often make a spinach walnut pesto that’s to die for.

Pesto is made in a food processor (or you can use a powerful blender). It only takes about 5 minutes!

How do you toast pine nuts?

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.

To toast pine nuts, simply place them in a small frying pan over medium-low heat. 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.

All you have to do to make the pesto is add the basil, garlic, nuts, and Parmesan cheese to the food processor and pulse to chop them fine. Then add your olive oil slowly, while the machine is running, to for the pesto sauce.

When choosing Parmesan cheese, don’t use the grated kind. Instead, use the fresh Parmesan. Parmesan cheese lasts awhile in the refrigerator so a wedge of it is good to have in your cheese drawer. Fresh parm is so good on pasta and pizza too!

basil pesto in jar

How do you use pesto?

Pesto has so many uses! One recipe makes just over a cup of pesto and can be used in several meals:

There are so many uses for my ultimate pesto recipe!

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.

To freeze pesto sauce, place it in ice cube trays. Freeze, then place each pesto cube into a small sandwich bag and store in the freezer. Grab one to add to soups!

However you use this easy basil pesto sauce I know you’ll love it. It’s garlicky and rich and the perfect sauce or dip.

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Best Homemade Basil Pesto

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.
4.63 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 8 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves fresh
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon salt to taste
  • ½ - 3/4 cup olive oil


  • 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 ½ teaspoon salt and pulse to combine.
  • While running the machine, pour in olive oil, starting with ½ cup. Once the pesto emulsifies it will become a thick sauce. If you want thinner pest, add another ¼ cup olive oil.

Recipe Notes

Recipe from The Simple Kitchen by Donna & Chad Elick

Nutrition Information

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
Keyword pesto

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Last Updated on May 13, 2020

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  1. Good basic recipe. Often I double or stretch with spinach. I also add a half teaspoon of red chili flakes for a little kick of heat.