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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!
But, 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, although I have no measurements from what I did last year. So, I’ll have to guesstimate and then probably do a bit more.
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! I just can’t get enough.
How to Make Classic Pesto Recipe
To make this pesto recipe, I start with fresh basil. I love to use basil from my herb garden, but in a pinch basil from the grocery store works great!
I add the basil, garlic, nuts and salt to either my food processor or my high speed blender – either works fine and I use whichever one is on the counter at the moment.
Now, I will say that classic pesto uses pine nuts in the recipe. However, if you have a hard time finding pine nuts, you can easily substitute with another nut such as walnuts or, I also like to use shelled sunflower seeds. Truth be known, sunflower seeds actually are one of my favorites and I switch back and forth using it all the time. They are also usually less expensive than pine nuts which makes it all the better.
Then, I slowly begin to pour in the olive oil through the top chute of my blender or food processor while the machine is turned on about low to medium speed.
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 for later use or refrigerate to use soon.
If I am going to use immediately, I go ahead and add my Parmesan cheese.
If I’m freezing or refrigerating, I like to add the cheese right before I plan to serve it.
How to Freeze Pesto
Pesto freezes beautifully.
As mentioned earlier, hold off on adding the cheese to your pesto until right before you use it.
To freeze, simply pour it into ice cube trays or mini muffin tins and place 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 in the freezer for up to one year.
To use, simply 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!
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
- ¾ – 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.
- Store in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze in ice cube trays and then store in zip top bags for a few months.
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.
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From the Add a Pinch recipe archives. Originally published 2012.
A nice simple pesto is so delicious! I have to harvest some basil from my garden and make this ASAP!
Thanks for the tip on freezing the pesto. I’ve wondered if you could freeze a batch for later.
So glad that helps, Ceeja! I love making fresh pesto, but also being able to freeze a little for later. Thanks so much for your input! xo
I used cream cheese instead of parmesan and it makes a lovely light pasta sauce
Thanks so much, Sonu!
Toast your pine nuts before – adds an awesome depth to the pesto!
Wonderful tip, Marianne! Thanks! xo
I have made this several times and I love it. I often pump up the amount of garlic and it gives it a nice punch. I can eat a spoonful of it as a snack it’s so good!
Isn’t it fresh and delicious, Mika?! So happy you like it too! xo
Thanks for sharing this recipe. I swapped the regular parmesan for a vegetarian version. All the items blended well and flavor is amazing! I’m looking forward to creating my shrimp pesto pasta dish!
Thanks, Mary, for telling us how this recipe worked with the vegetarian cheese.
Works well in my Mediterranean dishes
I’m so glad this works well with the type of dishes you make. We love Mediterranean recipes at our house, too. Thanks!