Classic Pesto Recipe – Made of fresh basil, garlic, nuts, olive oil, and cheese, this pesto recipe comes together in minutes and adds so much flavor to so many dishes!
My basil has been so abundant lately. I’ve used it so much that I always think I’m going to use it all and then, by the miracle that is a basil plant, it grows more abundantly. Hey, I’m certainly not complaining. I’m absolutely grateful!
We’ve used it in just about everything possible this year from our caprese grilled chicken to pasta. But I do have to tell you, I’ve had more than my fair share of caprese salad this summer. Oh my goodness, have I ever!
I’m also making a dent in replacing the pesto I saved from last summer that I used throughout the winter. My goal is to put back twice as much as I did last year.
This quick and easy pesto recipe comes together in a snap and adds so much flavor to so many dishes from fish, seafood, chicken, and veggies! The taste is amazing and I can’t get enough!
Table of Contents
How to Make Pesto Recipe
Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full listing of ingredients, instructions, notes, and estimated nutritional information.
- cloves garlic
- pine nuts
- Parmesan cheese grated
- olive oil
To make this pesto recipe, I start with fresh basil leaves. I love to use basil from my herb garden, but I generally see large quantities of fresh basil at my grocery store, too
I add the basil, garlic, nuts, and salt to my food processor or my high-speed blender – either works fine, and I use whichever one is on the counter at the moment.
Use Sunflower Seeds in place of Pine Nuts! They are generally less expensive and taste delicious!
Then, I slowly begin to pour in the extra-virgin olive oil through the top chute of my blender or food processor while the machine is turned on at low to medium speed. In the beginning, you can also slowly pulse the ingredients.
I normally stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl or blender container a few times while I’m making my pesto to make sure there aren’t any unprocessed lumps of garlic or anything else in my finished pesto.
Once my pesto has reached a consistency throughout, you can immediately pour it into ice cube trays or mini muffin tins and freeze it for later use or refrigerate it to use soon.
If I am going to use it immediately, I go ahead and add my Parmesan cheese.
If I’m freezing or refrigerating, I like to add the cheese before serving it.
Substitutions and Variations
- For the fresh basil – You can substitute fresh arugula, kale, parsley, cilantro, and mint for basil for different flavor profiles.
- For the pine nuts – You can use walnuts, almonds, pecans, or sunflower seeds for the pine nuts.
- For the garlic – I also love to use Stone House Seasoning in place of the fresh garlic and salt in this recipe. It also adds just a little black pepper to the recipe.
- For the Parmesan cheese – Parmesan adds a distinct flavor to traditional pesto you’ll find in Italy, but you can also substitute it with any aged, hard cheese such as pecorino romano.
- Vegan Pesto – To make a vegan pesto, omit the cheese or use nutritional yeast to taste.
To make ahead. Store pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
To freeze. Pesto freezes beautifully. As mentioned earlier, hold off on adding the cheese to your pesto until right before you use it. Pour it into ice cube trays or mini muffin tins and place it into the freezer until the pesto has frozen solid. Then, transfer the frozen pesto cubes into a freezer-safe container, such as a zip-top freezer bag, and store them in the freezer for up to one year.
To use from frozen. Remove your frozen pesto by the cube from the freezer and allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, toss it into a soup to thaw as it cooks for instant flavor and more!
Pizza – Use as a base on your pizza dough or drizzle on top when ready to serve.
Sandwiches – Delicious to swipe fresh pesto sauce on your bread in a Caprese sandwich with tomatoes and mozzarella.
Salads – Use as a fresh salad dressing on your favorite salad or mix with more olive oil and lemon juice for a delicious vinaigrette or add to ranch dressing like in my Grilled Chicken Salad with Pesto Ranch Dressing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Genovese basil, a type of sweet basil, is the best type of basil for pesto.
Yes! Pesto freezes easily. Wait about adding the cheese to your pesto and pour it into ice cube trays or a mini muffin pan. Freeze for until hardened, about 30 minutes and then transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to a year. See my recipe post for how to use from frozen.
Here’s my Classic Pesto Recipe. I hope you make it soon!
Classic Pesto Recipe
- 4 cups basil
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 – 1 cup olive oil
- Add basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, salt to the bowl of a food processor or high power blender.
- Turn food processor on and begin slowly pouring olive oil through the chute of the machine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Use, store or freeze.
Store pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Freezer Friendly:
Pour pesto to an ice tray and freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer frozen pesto cubes to a zip top freezer bag or other airtight, freezer-safe container and store for up to a year.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.