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Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto can be used in so many recipes, so why not make your own in just a few minutes with this super easy recipe!


Do you love the flavor of homemade pesto and want to learn how to make it yourself? Y’all know that I have no problem with the store-bought pesto and I use it in lots of recipes but there is just something about making it fresh that really knocks your socks off! I promise you that this homemade pesto will quickly become a favorite in your kitchen—it’s perfectly balanced with the flavors of garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil leaves! With just a few simple steps, you’ll be able to whip together this in no time at all!

A wooden spoon with some homemade basil pesto.


What is basil pesto used for?

Basil Pesto has an endless amount of things you can use it on. You can use it as a spread, as a dip, or an addition to sauce and more. Here are a few of our favorite recipes to add it in and ways to use it:
– Use your pesto as a dip for bread
– Spread the pesto on a crostini or other crunchy bread topped with fresh tomatoes and shredded cheese
– Add it to your sauce on pasta
– Stir the pesto into soups for extra flavor
– Add it to your pizza toppings or as a pizza sauce
– Add it to veggies or stuffed in chicken
– Top salmon with it
– Use it as a marinade for meat
– Use it as a spread for sandwiches
– Add it to sour cream or some Greek yogurt and use it as a dip
Try using it in any of these recipes Caesar Basil Pasta Salad, Italian Sub Squares, Tuscan Chicken Pasta and Italian Gnocchi Soup

Do I need to wash basil before using it?

Yes, you should rinse the basil before using it and pat it dry with a paper towel. No need to submerge it in water though.

What kind of oil is best for pesto?

I like to use olive oil. That is the traditional oil to use. You can use a lighter tasting one if that is what you prefer. I would pick an oil that doesn’t have a really heavy flavor.

How do I toast pine nuts for pesto?

While this is an optional step, I really suggest trying it because it brings a fantastic flavor to pesto. To toast your pine nuts, add to a medium skillet (you don’t need oil or butter) over medium-low heat for 6-7 minutes. Stir them frequently and watch them closely because they can burn fast and easily.

Do I have to use pinenuts?

If you can’t find them or don’t want to use them, you can skip them or replace them.
If you’re omitting them, start with only a ⅓ cup of olive oil and add more to your pesto as needed. If you’re need to replace them, you can use walnuts, cashews, or even almonds.

Is it normal for pesto to change color?

It’s completely normal for pesto to change color and get darker. It can even turn brown in the refrigerator from oxidation. But, this is all normal and will not change the flavor of your pesto.
However, if you don’t want to let your pesto change color, you can add a thin layer of olive oil on top to help keep a barrier from the air. In addition to that, you can add about a Tablespoon of lemon juice to your pesto when blending to help act as a preservant.
Finally, you can really ensure your pesto stays a beautiful green by blanching the basil leaves for 30 seconds and then immediately plunging them in ice cold water before wringing them out completely before making pesto with them.

How to preserve basil pesto?

Pesto should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. It’s okay if it turns to a dark green color, this will not impact the taste. You can preserve your pesto even longer by freezing it.

How to freeze basil pesto?

There are two ways to freeze your pesto. Depending on how you plan to use it, one of these ways may be better for you than the other. First, you can freeze pesto in an airtight, freezer safe container for 6 months, or longer.
Or, you can transfer your pesto into ice cube trays and freeze it that way. Once the cubes of pesto have frozen, pop them out and for easier, more convenient serving sizes. Each cube is about 2 Tablespoons of pesto. All of the cubes can be placed in a freezer safe container and kept in the freezer for easy storing.

A jar of homemade basil pesto.


  • fresh basil leaves – it’s really important you use fresh basil here (not frozen or dried) – look for bright green leaves without any dark spots.
  • garlic – fresh garlic here – not jarred or garlic powder. I have no issue with jarred garlic (I love it) but this really makes a difference in taste in pesto – trust me.
  • pine nuts – these are optional but are included in traditional pesto – you can usually find them in the baking aisle along with the other nuts in your grocery store.
  • Parmesan cheese – again, go with freshly grated here. You want a bright fresh flavor with pesto so these little things make a big difference in taste
  • olive oil – I use extra virgin but you can go with whatever olive oil flavor you enjoy. A light tasting olive oil works just fine!
Basil, garlic, pine nuts, grated parmesan cheese, kosher salt, black pepper, and olive oil.


To make the pesto, add all the ingredients into a blender or mini food processor.

Food processor with ingredients to make basil pesto.

Blend the mixture until it is well combined and has a paste-like consistency. If the pesto is too thick, you can add some extra olive oil to thin it out to your desired consistency.

Basil pesto in a food processor bowl.

Then enjoy!

A piece of dipping bread with some basil pesto on it over a jar of it.


A small jar of basil pesto.

Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto can be used in so many recipes, so why not make your own in just a few minutes with this super easy recipe!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Seasonings, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Basil Pesto
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 410kcal


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves packed
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup pine nuts toasted
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil


  • To make the pesto, add all the ingredients into a blender or mini food processor.
  • Blend the mixture until it is well combined and has a paste-like consistency. If the pesto is too thick, you can add some extra olive oil to thin it out to your desired consistency.


  • Please refer to my FAQ’s and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions. 
  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a mortar and pestle to grind it all up together. 
  • Cut your garlic cloves in half if they’re large so they blend easier. 
  • If you have never toasted pinenuts before, there are directions in the FAQ section. 
  • If you want to omit the pine nuts, you can, or swap them out for other nuts. 
  • To store homemade pesto, store it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for a week. 
  • Keep it longer by freezing it for 6 months or longer in a freezer safe container or as ice cubes in a container. 


Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 802mg | Potassium: 169mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 748IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 139mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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