Recipes from the Internet

Classic Pesto Recipe

Pesto is such a versatile sauce. It’s fantastic tossed with any pasta, gnocchi, or used as a spread on sandwiches. This pesto recipe is also the secret ingredient in Chicken Pesto Pasta and Chicken Pesto Roll-Ups.

Homemade pesto is surprisingly easy and inexpensive to make and fresh tastes so much better than storebought. During the summer months, we keep a steady supply of this fantastic sauce in the fridge and freezer since it stores really well.

Pesto Sauce Recipe in jar

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I’m always comparing this homemade pesto to the Costco pesto (which is the best store-bought one I’ve found) and this fresh pesto recipe wins. The lemon juice keeps the color bright and beautiful and adds fresh flavor without needing too much extra salt.

What Is Pesto Sauce?

Pesto is basically a bright green sauce that is made from crushing together basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese.

It’s a sauce that originated in Italy, with the term pesto derived from the Italian word “pestare” which means “to crush”. It was originally made using a Mortar and Pestle but we find it’s faster and easier in a food processor.

Basil pesto in jar with spoon

Ingredients for Basil Pesto

Most of the ingredients needed for this pesto recipe are things you probably already have on hand. If you don’t have basil growing in your garden, it’s best to buy it fresh the day you are making the sauce.

  • Basil – use fresh basil leaves. The common basil leaves for pesto are large leaf basil, sweet basil, or genovese basil
  • Parmesan cheese – shredded
  • Extra virgin olive oil – use the best quality oil you can source
  • Pine nuts – these are typical for pesto, but we have substituted with walnuts with great results
  • Garlic cloves – we use 2 large cloves
  • Lemon juice – use freshly squeezed juice from 1 large or 2 smaller lemons. Do not use lemon juice concentrate.
  • Salt & Pepper – can be added to taste
Ingredients for Basil Pesto with basil, olive oil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic and lemon juice

Can I substitute Pine Nuts?

While traditional pesto sauce is made with pine nuts, you can certainly replace the pine nuts with a less expensive nut such as walnuts, or blanched almonds which work great.

Pro Tip: To get the most flavor out of your pine nuts, toast them on a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing often until golden and fragrant then cool before using in the recipe.

What Type of Basil Should I Use?

There are many varieties of basil. A few of the most popular include Italian large leaf (sweet basil), Thai, and lemon basil.

Any of these can be used for pesto but each has a slightly different flavor profile. For a traditional basil pesto flavor, you’ll want to use the Italian large leaf. It’s the basil leaf that most people typically think of as “normal” basil. It’s also referred to as sweet basil or Genovese basil. This is the type of basil sold in most grocery stores.

Fresh Italian basil in colander

How to Make Basil Pesto

  1. Prep Basil – Gently rinse fresh basil leaves and pat dry or use a salad spinner to remove excess water.
  2. Process Sauce – Place all of your ingredients to a food processor or a high powered blender and process until smooth.

Pro Tip: After blending the pesto, add more salt to taste if desired. Keep in mind that store-bought pesto sauces can be significantly saltier since they are compensating for freshness. Salt also preserves the sauce for longer shelf life.

How to Make Basil Pesto in food processor

Serve with

Basil pesto is an easy and healthy summer sauce that adds incredible flavor to a variety of dishes. Of course, there are the obvious uses for basil pesto, like mixing it in with your favorite pasta dish, or as the base for a pizza, but there’s so much more you can do with it!

  • Spread on a sandwich for an elevated lunch
  • Thin it down with oil or vinegar and make a basil pesto salad dressing
  • Marinate or toss with your favorite grilled or roasted veggies.
  • Topping for meat – spread pesto over cooked chicken, salmon, pork tenderloin, and of course on medalions of beef tenderloin.
Pesto sauce blended and in a jar ready to serve with pasta

More Homemade Sauces

The flavors and ingredients of pesto and these homemade condiment recipes are way better than storebought. Once you make your own homemade dressings and sauces, you won’t want anything else.

Basil Pesto Recipe

4.98 from 37 votes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Basil pesto sauce in jar with fresh basil leaves and lemon

Pesto Sauce is so easy to make and homemade pesto tastes way better than storebought. This Basil Pesto recipe is fantastic with pasta, chicken, or sandwiches.

Author: Natasha of

Skill Level:


Cost to Make:

$4-$5 (varies by season)


pesto recipe





Calories: 205

Servings: 8 people (makes 1 1/2 cups pesto)

  • 2
    fresh basil leaves
    tightly packed
  • 3/4
    shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2
    extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2
    pine nuts
    or walnuts
  • 2
    garlic cloves
  • 1/4
    lemon juice
    (juice of 2 small lemons)
  • 1/2
    or to taste
  • 1/4
    black pepper
  1. Wash and dry the basil leaves.

  2. Place basil into a food processor, add cheese, nuts, garlic cloves, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth.

  3. Season with more salt to taste if desired.

Nutrition Facts

Basil Pesto Recipe

Amount Per Serving

Calories 205
Calories from Fat 189

% Daily Value*

Fat 21g32%

Saturated Fat 4g25%

Cholesterol 8mg3%

Sodium 290mg13%

Potassium 88mg3%

Carbohydrates 2g1%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 1g1%

Protein 3g6%

Vitamin A 375IU8%

Vitamin C 4.3mg5%

Calcium 117mg12%

Iron 0.8mg4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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