Basil Pesto

04.20.2016

This Basil Pesto is easy to make and is a great way to use up all that basil in your garden! Enjoy this homemade pesto with your favorite pasta, with salmon or chicken, or on pizza. There are so many ways to enjoy this vibrant basil pesto! 

Basil Pesto in white bowl next to wedge of Parmesan and fresh basil leaves

Easy Basil Pesto Recipe

I’ve been eating pesto on everything lately! It’s one of the best ways to add bold, fresh flavors to an entree and it’s easy to make. If you haven’t tried making it at home yet, you haven’t lived yet!

The freshness of homemade basil pesto makes it so much better than store-bought, plus the fact that homemade uses extra-virgin olive oil vs. the canola oil many grocery store brands use.

This is the perfect pesto recipe if you just happen to be planting an herb garden with lots of basil in it this summer (we just planted our first garden — fingers crossed! We’ll see how it goes). This recipe does take about three fairly large bunches of basil to make.

Your best bet will be to use a kitchen scale to get the weight of the basil leaves right, because we all pack leaves into cups differently. I did add some parsley to this pesto, but if  you’d prefer you can just use more basil, which I also do on occasion. I do love the blend of the two herbs so usually if I have the parsley I’ll always add it in too.

If you’re looking to keep your pesto nice and vibrantly green you will need to boil the basil leaves for 5 seconds (fully submerged) then rest in ice water to halt the cooking process and drain (aka quickly blanch it).

This step is completely optional, if I’m not too concerned about the look of the pesto and I don’t care if it turns to a dingy-ish green I’ll skip this step on occasion, but it is just so nice to keep it in the fridge for a few days and go back to nice vibrantly green pesto.

Just keep in mind blanching removes a bit of the flavor. You can try it both ways and see if you think the blanching is worth it.

bunch of fresh basil in glass jar

Basil Pesto Ingredients

For this homemade basil pesto sauce, you’ll need:

  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh parsley
  • Pine nuts
  • Shredded Parmesan
  • Garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

homemade pesto ingredients in bowl of food processor

How to Make Pesto From Scratch

  • Add basil, parsley, Parmesan and garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely minced.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

making homemade pesto in food processor

  • With processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil.
  • Scrape down the sides as needed, and pulse until pesto is smooth.

finished Basil Pesto in bowl of food processor

How to Freeze Pesto

I can’t think of a better use for this homemade pesto then to make a bunch of it and freeze it to enjoy throughout the year. Come winter you’ll be so glad you did!

To freeze pesto, simply store it in an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze. When you’re ready to use the pesto, place it in the fridge to thaw slightly before scooping it out.

I’ve heard that you can also freeze pesto in an ice cube tray and store the frozen cubes in a freezer bag. Then you can pop one or two pesto cubes into your pasta and warm through that way. If you’ve tried this before, let me know!

My Favorite Pesto Uses

There are so many ways to use pesto! A few of my favorite pesto uses include:

Homemade Basil Pesto in white bowl

Tips for the Best Pesto

  • Pine nuts are a traditional pesto ingredient, but if you don’t have any you can also use unsalted almonds or walnuts.
  • You can use toasted or raw pine nuts for this recipe.
  • If possible, use freshly grated Parmesan for this pesto recipe. It makes a big difference in flavor!

More Easy Italian Recipes You’ll Love:

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Basil Pesto

5 from 1 vote

Perfect pesto every time! It's perfectly bright and incredibly flavorful. Perfect for tossing with pasta, vegetables, gnocchi or serve over chicken. The parsley is optional and just adds another layer of flavor but feel free to omit it and add more basil.

Servings: 4
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (60g) slightly packed basil leaves*
  • 1/2 cup (15g) slightly packed parsley leaves (or more basil)
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts (un-toasted or toasted)
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 - 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. To a food processor add basil, parsley, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and garlic and process mixture until finely minced, while occasionally scraping down sides of processor. 

  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then with processor running, slowly drizzle in 6 Tbsp olive oil and process until well pureed, occasionally scraping down the sides of processor. 
  3. Add remaining 2 Tbsp oil if desired to thin. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes

*How to Blanch Basil:

If you want to keep the pesto green, you'll need to blanch the basil first (this step is optional, it's only if you want it to stay nicely green). To do so, bring a large pot of water to a boil over moderately high heat and fill a medium bowl with ice and cold water.

Carefully transfer half of the basil to boiling water using a large wire sieve, then submerge and allow to boil for just 5 seconds. Immediately remove from boiling water and transfer to ice water.

Allow to rest for about 10 seconds, then transfer to paper towels to drain excess water (lightly dab water away, but don't squeeze dry). Repeat with remaining basil.

Nutrition Facts
Basil Pesto
Amount Per Serving
Calories 307 Calories from Fat 297
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 51%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 4mg 1%
Sodium 103mg 4%
Potassium 109mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 1g 0%
Protein 2g 4%
Vitamin A 23.1%
Vitamin C 9.3%
Calcium 10.6%
Iron 7.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pesto
Calories: 307 kcal
Author: Jaclyn

Recipe updated from archives. Originally shared July 22, 2013

32 comments

  • Jillian: How much pesto do the measurements in this recipe yield?? one cup? less? Thanks June 5, 2019 at 12:47pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Sorry I forgot to write that down. I believe it’s about 1 cup. June 6, 2019 at 12:43pm Reply

      • Jillian: Thank you!! June 6, 2019 at 1:41pm Reply

  • Sam: I made this the other day for dinner and wow was it amazing! I used almonds instead of pine nuts and it was simply delicious! It is super easy to make and I have almost all the ingredients at any given point because of the fresh basil and parsley I am growing. June 10, 2018 at 7:05pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for the great feedback! June 11, 2018 at 6:11pm Reply

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