Made with just 6 ingredients, this Homemade Pesto recipe is quick and easy to prepare, with an earthy, nutty, garlicky flavor. Perfect for pasta and other dishes. You’ll never buy jarred store-bought pesto again!
Easy Homemade Pesto Recipe
Once you try this homemade pesto recipe, you’ll never buy a jar of pesto at the store again. I still can’t believe how quick and easy it is to make.
This homemade pesto takes just 5 minutes from start to finish. All you need to do is toss the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. The end result is the perfect pesto sauce, with a beautiful green color and earthy, garlicky flavor.
Pesto pasta has become one of our favorite weeknight dinners. It’s so quick and easy and with this homemade pesto, it tastes like something straight from an Italian restaurant. But there are so many other ways to use pesto too – you can even freeze it so you always have some on hand.
Why This Recipe Works
Here’s why this homemade pesto recipe will quickly become your new go-to.
- Ready in minutes. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare this pesto recipe, from start to finish, so you can whip it up anytime.
- Just 6 ingredients. The ingredient list is made of simple, fresh ingredients to provide the absolute best flavor.
- Versatile. While this homemade pesto is perfect for making pesto pasta, it can be used in many other ways as well. I’ve included lots of examples below.
What Is Pesto?
Pesto is a sauce or spread very popular in Italian cooking. It’s typically made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese for an earthy, nutty flavor. You’ll most commonly find it used in pasta dishes but it can be served as a spread on sandwiches or as a dip or sauce to chicken, fish, etc.
This pesto recipe sticks with the classic ingredients, like fresh basil and parmesan. Check the recipe card below for measurements.
- Basil – You’ll want to remove the basil leaves from the stem for this recipe.
- Parmesan cheese – Shredded from the block is best. Do not make pesto with the parmesan in the green can.
- Olive oil – Be sure to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
- Pine nuts – See below for substitutions, if you can’t find them.
- Garlic – Adds more flavor to the pesto.
- Lemon juice – Freshly squeezed is best.
- Salt & pepper
What Can I Substitute for Pine Nuts In This Homemade Pesto Recipe?
Walnuts are the most common substitute for pine nuts in pesto but other nuts such as pistachios and almonds will work too. You can also use sunflower seeds. Note that each will give the pesto a slightly different taste but since basil is the predominant flavor, it won’t be a huge difference.
How to Make Homemade Pesto
Here’s how to make this easy pesto recipe in just a few minutes.
- Prepare the basil. Remove the leaves from the stem then wash and dry them.
- Blend the ingredients. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process in pulses until smooth.
- Taste test and enjoy. Try a bit of the pesto and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Tips & Variations
Here are a few tips for making the best homemade pesto, as well as a few easy variations.
- Use quality ingredients. Be sure to use fresh basil that’s not wilted, a good quality olive oil, and good cheese as well. With a simple recipe like this, the quality of the ingredients really determines the final quality of the dish.
- Use a food processor, not a blender. This is one recipe where you really need to use a food processor instead of a blender, as a blender just can’t create the same consistency, especially with the nuts.
- Sub in some spinach. For pesto that maintains the bright green color but has a less intense basil flavor, try replace half of the basil with some fresh baby spinach, kale or arugula.
- Taste test before serving. Always give your homemade pesto a taste test before serving or using it in a recipe, and adjust the seasonings as needed.
Ways to Use Basil Pesto
But there are so many other ways to use pesto too. Here are a few ideas:
- On pizza
- As a spread on sandwiches
- In place of basil in caprese salads or on caprese chicken
- With chicken or fish
- On bread
- On grilled veggies
Homemade pesto can be stored in an airtight container (a glass jar works perfectly) in the fridge for up to a week. Give it a stir and use it throughout the week as desired.
Can I Freeze Homemade Pesto?
Yes. This pesto recipe is perfect for freezing. The easiest way to do so is in an ice cube tray and place in the freezer, so you can just pop out a small amount whenever needed.
More Homemade Sauces
Homemade Pesto Recipe
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves tightly packed
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of 2 small lemons)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- Wash and dry the basil leaves.
- Place basil into a food processor, add cheese, olive oil, nuts, garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth.
- Season with more salt and pepper to taste if desired.