Fresh basil, delicious olive oil and a salty parmesan cheese makes this The Best Basil Pesto Recipe and the only pesto recipe you need! It's so simple to make and better than any pesto you can find on the grocery store shelves.
While you can put this on sandwiches, mix it in with pasta, or spread it on a crusty piece of bread, you may find that it's so good you could eat it with a spoon! Seriously, it's that good!
This is a no-fail recipe as it turns out so good everytime we make it. This is a great way to use up fresh basil during those warm summer months when basil is abundant.
This fresh pesto can be made and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about a week. If your home is anything like ours, you shouldn't have any left after a week though!
There are so many ways you can eat this homemade basil pesto. Our favorite is to add it to warm pasta or spread on panini sandwiches. Or try it in one of these great recipes: Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup with Homemade Pesto Croutons, Summer Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad or Easy Turkey Basil Pesto Panini.
Why You Will Love This
- The flavors. There is nothing better than the fresh flavor of basil combined with the salty and savory flavors of the cheese, nuts and olive oil. It is such a good combination!
- It's versatile. This is such a versatile sauce. It can be used as a pizza sauce, pasta sauce, a salad dressing, or use it on grilled chicken, salmon or pork chops. There are so many ways to use this pesto, the list is really endless.
- It's easy. Making this only takes a couple of minutes and anyone can do it. It's almost as easy as running out and getting store-bought pesto!
Ingredients Needed for Basil Pesto
Here are notes about some of the ingredients needed to make this basil pesto recipe. All of these ingredients can be found at your local grocery store or at an online retailer, like Amazon.
- Olive oil - Be sure to use an olive oil that tastes good. You can usually get some pretty good olive oil at the grocery store when you don't buy the cheapest! I like to aim for something in the mid-range. Not too cheap and not too expensive either!
- Garlic - Fresh garlic cloves are best, but jarred garlic works great too!
- Pine nuts: Pine nuts can be pretty expensive. If you are looking for an alternative nut, you could use walnuts, pistachios or almonds.
- Basil - Fresh from the garden is best, but however you get your hands on some basil is perfectly fine! Alternatively, you could use parsley, mint, spinach, arugula, kale or cilantro for a different flavor!
- Parmesan cheese - Any good parmesan will be good though! You could also use other hard cheeses like: asiago, pecorino romano or grana padano. Keep in mind that some of these cheeses are on the saltier side, so I would not add the salt until you have tasted the pesto and can adjust accordingly.
How to Make Basil Pesto
Here is how to make the best homemade pesto.
STEP 1: In the bowl of a food processor, add the olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and salt. Process on high while slowly adding the basil, a little at a time, until well mixed and smooth. Scrape the sides as needed.
STEP 2: Add the cheese and process on high until well blended. If the pesto is too thick, add additional olive oil, a little at a time, and continue to process until it is the desired consistency. (I don't usually add extra olive oil because I don't mind when it is on the thicker side.)
STEP 3: Taste the pesto to determine whether or not you need to add more salt and adjust accordingly.
- This homemade pesto sauce is so good mixed into big bowl of pasta. You can spread this on bread for sandwiches. Use it in pasta salads. Use it to marinate meat or spoon it on top of grilled chicken or steak. Spread it on good, crusty bread or as the sauce on a homemade pizza. The possibilities are really endless here, so get creative!
- Try using a different herb than basil. I've made this pesto with parsley and mint. Kale, spinach, arugula, or cilantro would be good alternatives too.
No! You can make this fresh basil pesto in a blender if you don't have a food processor.
Sure! You could easily replace the pine nuts with walnuts, pistachios or almonds. You could even leave the nuts out altogether if you wanted to.
Yes! You could use any hard Italian cheese variety that you prefer, like: pecorino romano, asiago or grana padano.
Storing and Freezing
I always store it in a jar with a tight fitting lid. It will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. To prevent any browning on the top, cover the top of the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil.
Freeze in a jar with a tight fitting lid for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using. Alternatively, you could freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer to a zip top bag and store in the freezer.
More Recipes to Try
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The Best Basil Pesto Recipe
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups basil leaves, firmly packed
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- In the bowl of a food processor, add oil, garlic, pine nuts and salt. Process on high until smooth.¾ cup olive oil, 3-4 garlic cloves, ½ cup pine nuts, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add basil, a little at a time, and process on high until smooth, scraping the sides of bowl as needed.2 cups basil leaves, firmly packed
- Add parmesan cheese and continue to process on high until well blended. Taste and adjust salt, if needed.¼ cup parmesan cheese