How to Make Homemade Basil Pesto
This homemade basil pesto is made with a handful of fresh and flavorful ingredients. Quick and versatile, pesto can be used in a variety of recipes like flatbread, pesto or mixed with cooked pasta, roasted vegetables, spread on sandwiches, pasta, and more. And, as a bonus, this from-scratch pesto is much easier than you think and tastes worlds better than store-bought.
This is how I make classic basil pesto at home. It’s incredibly simple and flavorful and uses only a handful of fresh ingredients.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves*
- 1/3 cup pine nuts*
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves garlic (roasted or fresh)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pulse the basil, pine nuts, cheese, and garlic together in a food processor or blender. Scrape down the sides, then add the oil, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse until everything is blended together and relatively smooth.
Taste and add pepper (and/or more salt) if desired. I always add a pinch of pepper.
Store leftover pesto in a jar or sealable container, tightly seal, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Freezing Instructions: Freeze the pesto for up to 2-3 months. You can freeze it in greased ice cube trays and thaw small portions at a time.
Basil or Other Greens: Instead of basil, try other greens like spinach, kale, or arugula. No matter which greens you choose, rinse and pat dry before using.
Nuts: If I’m having trouble finding pine nuts, sometimes I’ll swap them for walnuts, pistachios, or almonds. For a nut-free version, try cooked and cooled edamame, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, or sunflower seeds.
Other Pesto Variations: Try adding your favorite herbs like cilantro, mint, or parsley. Add your favorite spices like cayenne, ground ginger, or paprika. Or add a dash of your favorite hot sauce.