This vibrant Fresh Pesto Recipe is a simple, delicious condiment that takes just 10 minutes to make. Use on pasta, homemade pizza, grilled chicken, as a spread for sandwiches and so much more.
Fresh Pesto Recipe
This recipe for Homemade Pesto is a quick and easy way to add a burst of color and flavor to so many different recipes. This version is made with plenty of basil, Parmesan cheese, a squeeze of lemon juice, pine nuts and fresh garlic, but it is easy to swap out any of these ingredients.
While pesto was traditionally made using a mortar and pestle, making pesto in a blender or food processor is easy peasy and the flavor is spot on. And if you happen to have an herb garden, you’ll appreciate another reason I love pesto - you can freeze it for up to 3 months! Go ahead and make a huge batch. No more fretting over how to use up that late summer bounty of basil.
How to Use Pesto
With just a few minutes and a handful of ingredients, you can add flavor and freshness to so many different dishes with just a little dollop of Homemade Pesto. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use this basil pesto recipe:
- Pesto and Sausage Homemade Flatbread Pizza
- Three Cheese Pesto Flatbread
- Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Three Cheese and Pesto Quiche
- Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad
- Grilled Chicken Salad with Pesto Ranch Dressing
Homemade Fresh Pesto Recipe Ingredients
- Basil - use the freshest basil you can find, whether that is from your garden or from the produce section of your grocery store. If you can’t find basil, or want to try something else, you can also make pesto with spinach, arugula, kale, parsley or even cilantro.
- Parmesan Cheese - if possible, use freshly grated Parmesan cheese. You can grate it yourself, or often times you can find freshly grated Parmesan at your local grocery store. If you are looking for a good substitute, try any other hard aged cheese such as Asiago.
- Lemon Juice - fresh lemon juice tastes best.
- Pine Nuts - pine nuts taste amazing in pesto, but they are also a little expensive. You can substitute walnuts, cashews, pecans or even pistachios.
- Garlic - fresh garlic cloves tastes best. The next best thing would be the pre-minced garlic that comes in a jar.
- Salt and Pepper
- Olive Oil - since this recipe is heavy on the olive oil, we like to use a high quality extra virgin olive oil.
How to Make Homemade Pesto Sauce
- Blend ingredients. Add the basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a blender or food processor. Blend on high until finely chopped.
- Slowly add olive oil. While the blender or food processor is running on low speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until your pesto reaches the desired consistency. For a smoother pesto, add a bit more olive oil.
- Store or use immediately. Transfer to a jar, or another airtight container, and refrigerate or use immediately. Serve on pizza, pasta, or as a dip. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
You sure can. Whether you have a nut allergy in the family or you simply don’t have any nuts lying around, you can easily make pesto without nuts. You may want to slightly increase the amount of Parmesan cheese but otherwise you can make the recipe exactly the same.
Yes! My favorite trick is to freeze Home made Pesto in an ice cube tray. Once they are frozen, pop them out of the tray and store in freezer bags for up to 3 months.
Pesto freezes incredibly well, so if you want to make a big batch and be sure it lasts, I recommend freezing. Otherwise, it will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Fresh Pesto Variations
- Spinach and Walnut Pesto: Substitute basil with fresh spinach and pine nuts with walnuts. The result is a milder and slightly earthier pesto.
- Cilantro and Pepita Pesto: Replace basil with fresh cilantro and pine nuts with pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
- Arugula and Almond Pesto: Use arugula instead of basil and almonds instead of pine nuts. Arugula adds a peppery kick, and almonds bring a nutty richness.
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto: Combine sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil. This variation is rich, sweet, and perfect for adding bold flavors to dishes.
- Kale and Cashew Pesto: Swap basil with kale and pine nuts with cashews. Kale adds nutritional value, and cashews provide a creamy texture.
- Roasted Red Pepper Pesto: Blend roasted red peppers with basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil. This pesto has a sweet and smoky flavor.
- Pesto Rosso (Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Pesto): Combine sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, and olive oil.
- Mint and Pistachio Pesto: Use fresh mint leaves and pistachios instead of basil and pine nuts. This pesto has a refreshing and slightly nutty taste.
- Lemon and Parmesan Pesto: Add lemon zest and juice to the classic basil pesto for a citrusy twist.
- Avocado Pesto: Blend ripe avocado with basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, and olive oil. This pesto is creamy and adds a unique avocado flavor.
- Balsamic Pesto: Combine balsamic vinegar, basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil.
- Refrigerator: store in a jar or another airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You may want to press a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the pesto to keep it from browning. If it does begin to brown, mix well before using again.
- Freezer: freeze flat in freezer bags, or in ice cube trays then transferred to freezer bags for up to 3 months.
Homemade Fresh Pesto Recipe
- 2 cups Basil Leaves fresh
- ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice fresh
- ½ cup Pine Nuts toasted
- 1 clove Garlic
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 1 pinch Pepper
- ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil more for a smoother pesto
- Add the fresh basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper to a blender or food processor. Blend on high until finely chopped.
- With the blender or food processor on low speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until your pesto reaches the desired consistency. For a smoother pesto, add a bit more olive oil.
- Transfer to a jar, or another airtight container, and refrigerate or use immediately. Serve on pizza, pasta, or as a dip. Enjoy!
- You can swap the pine nuts for your choice of nuts - walnuts, pecans, cashew and pistachios all work great.
- You can make this a nut-free pesto by using hemp seeds or Pelotas.
- Sub any leafy green, cilantro, parsley, or arugula for fresh basil.
- Add roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, or sun-dried tomatoes for a flavor variation.
More of Our Favorite Sauces and Condiments
- Pico de Gallo
- Homemade Taco Seasoning
- Cranberry Salsa
- Easy Alfredo Sauce
- Meat Sauce Recipe
- Southwest Ranch Dressing
- More Homemade Sauces
- More Summer Favorites
With just a few minutes and a handful of ingredients, this recipe for Homemade Pesto adds flavor and freshness to many different dishes. Use on pasta, homemade pizza, salads and more.