This homemade basil pesto recipe is vibrant, full of flavor and so easy to make! It’s a great healthier alternative to store bought and it’s the perfect way to liven up so many dishes.

Made in minutes with just four ingredients, this is an incredibly easy way to capture the essence of one of the most fabulous and flavorful herbs around.

Learn how to make it, where to use it, how to store it and so much more!

Fresh basil pesto in a small glass jar, with a stem of basil next to it on a white surface.
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It’s so quick and easy to make pesto that’s fresh and full of flavor, that I very rarely purchase store bought pesto.

Basil tends to go bad rather quickly when you buy it off the shelf. In fact, I usually like to use it the very same day that we buy because I know it’s not likely to last long!

Luckily, making fresh pesto is a great way to savor and enjoy it for weeks or months to come! Whether you have some left over from another dish or an abundance growing in your garden you want to enjoy all winter long, you can make homemade pesto to use in an array of delicious ways.

This basil pesto recipe is perfect to use in my pesto chicken, pesto aioli, pesto hummus, pesto pasta and SO much more! I have shared all of my favorite ways to use this fabulous pesto sauce below.

Next time you are planning your meals, why not try to skip buying the jarred stuff and make your own? It is so much more delicious, not to mention there’s no preservatives, additives or added salt.

Basil pesto in a small clear glass jar on a marble surface.

Why You’ll Love this Basil Pesto

  • So Easy
  • Packed with Flavor
  • Stores Well
  • Versatile
  • Wonderful in So Many Dishes!

★★★★★

5 STAR REVIEW

“LOVE this pesto recipe. It was delicious with our simple pasta. And I used basil from my garden! So so good.”

— LISALIA —

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Basil – Fresh basil leaves are the foundation for this sauce.
  • Pine Nuts – Add a mild, sweet and slightly buttery flavor. They are tender and high in fat and make the pesto really silky. You can substitute the nuts for walnut pesto or pistachio pesto if you don’t have any pine nuts on hand.
  • Minced Garlic – No pesto is complete without garlic! Use fresh minced garlic purchased in the produce section of your grocer for the best flavor. Learn how to peel garlic here.
  • Olive oil – Use a good quality olive oil, or extra virgin olive oil. It really enhances the flavor.
Fresh pesto leaves in a small jar on a white countertop

Variations

  • Red Pepper Flakes – To add a little heat (and a hint of color).
  • Skip the Nuts – Try this Nut Free Pesto.
  • Pesto Rosso – Make this pesto with sun dried tomatoes instead!
  • Parmesan Cheese – Use freshly grated parmesan for the best flavor. To keep it vegan you can substitute parmesan with nutritional yeast.
  • Salt and Pepper – Freshly cracked and to taste.
  • Lemon – A squeeze of lemon juice adds a little zest.
A variety of gold cake pans, loaf pans and muffin baking pan sizes laid out on a marble surface.

Tools to Use

Fresh basil pesto in a small glass jar, with a stem of basil next to it on a white surface.

Basil Pesto, Step by Step

  1. Combine – Add the ingredients to a food processor or blender (except the olive oil) and slowly add the olive oil as you process.
  2. Process until smooth and combined. To do it the old fashioned way, use a mortar and pestle.
  3. Serve – Serve stirred into pasta or store in in the fridge of freezer.
Basil pesto in a small clear glass jar on a marble surface.

Tips

  • Keep the color – Simply blanche the basil prior to making this pesto to keep it a bright green color. As it oxidizes, pesto darkens.
  • To keep basil fresh until you’re ready to make pesto, trim the stems and place in a jar or vase filled with water in a sunny spot.
  • You can also place it in a bowl at room temperature and cover with a towel, or lightly roll basil into a towel.
  • Scaling up, down or substituting? You’ll love this printable Measurement Conversion Chart!
A small glass of basil pesto on a white marble countertop, with a white ice cub tray next to it.

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – this basil pesto can sit out at room temperature for up to two hours while serving. After that, it should be refrigerated to preserve freshness.
  • Refrigerate – Transfer it to an airtight container. Add a layer of olive oil to help keep it fresh longer. Olive oil prevents the basil from coming in contact with air, preventing it from oxidizing. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Freeze – Pesto sauce freezes so well, I often make a big batch when I have leftover basil. Freeze it in an ice cube tray (or sheet pan) and then transfer to a freezer bag.

Frozen pesto keeps well for up to six months. You can defrost the cubes in the fridge or stir the cubes directly into hot pasta.

A white ice cube tray filled with basil pesto in each cube, for freezing

How to Use Pesto

Dietary Considerations

  • Gluten Free
  • Vegetarian
Fresh basil pesto in a small glass jar, with a stem of basil next to it on a white surface.

More Pesto

Fresh basil pesto in a small glass jar, with a stem of basil next to it on a white surface.
5 from 4 votes

Basil Pesto

This easy basil pesto is vibrant, full of flavor and so easy with just 4 ingredients! Learn how to make pesto with this TRIED + TRUE recipe.
Prep: 3 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 3 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
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Ingredients  

Optional

  • teaspoon red pepper
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese fresh grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Add ingredients to a blender or food processor, except the olive oil.
  • Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you blend the other ingredients.
  • Store in a container with an airtight lid, or follow the tips below to freeze your pesto.

Julie’s Tips

To Store

  • Refrigerate – Transfer it to an airtight container. Add a layer of olive oil to help keep it fresh longer. Olive oil prevents the basil from coming in contact with air, preventing it from oxidizing. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Freeze – Pesto sauce freezes so well, I often make a big batch when I have leftover basil. Freeze it in an ice cube tray (or sheet pan) and then transfer to a freezer bag. Frozen pesto keeps well for up to 6 months. You can defrost the cubes in the fridge or stir the cubes directly into hot pasta.
To Retain the Color – Simply blanche the basil prior to making to keep the basil pesto bright green. As it oxidizes, pesto darkens (which doesn’t phase me a bit!)

Video

Calories: 278kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Sodium: 9mg | Potassium: 74mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 639IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love the idea of making your own and having it on hand to use. I’ve been using it on pasta as a lighter option. So delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    This looks incredible. I love fresh basil. I also love all the great ideas you listed on how to enjoy it. I think I’ll try the popcorn. What a fun idea.

  3. 5 stars
    LOVE this pesto recipe. It was delicious with our simple pasta. And I used basil from my garden! So so good.