Basil Pesto

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Turn your summer basil bumper crop into Basil Pesto and freeze it for colder days ahead. It’s easy to make and ready in 10 minutes or less.

Basil pesto in a clear bowl with a spoon.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for basil pesto

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Parsley: A handful of fresh parsley ensures that your pesto is always bright green (basil can be dark when it gets bruised).
  • Pine nuts: For more flavor, toast the pine nuts. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat pine nuts until browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 2 to 5 minutes.
  • Garlic: Soften its raw taste by roasting garlic. In a dry medium skillet over medium-low heat, toast unpeeled garlic cloves until spotty, dark brown, and slightly softened, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely before peeling.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a food processor or blender, add basil, parsley, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and garlic. Pulse until coarsely chopped, about 10 pulses.
Basil in a food processor.
  1. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Basil pesto in a silver bowl with a spoon resting in it.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 1 cup of pesto, enough for 1 pound of pasta.
  • Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Add a layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidation.
  • Freezer: Pour into a jar and float a layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidation. Leave enough space at the top of the jar for expansion, then freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • More nuts: Substitute an equal amount of almondspecanscashews, or hazelnuts. Or try my basil walnut pesto.
  • Spicy: Add ¼ teaspoon or more crushed red pepper flakes to the food processor before blending.
  • Kale pesto: Omit the parsley, decrease the basil to 1 cup, and add 2 cups packed kale leaves.
  • Pesto roasted chicken: Rub pesto under and on the skin of your next whole bird, then roast to perfection.
  • Pesto cheese breadSlice a loaf of bread in half lengthwise, then spread a thick layer of pesto over each side. Top with cheese, then finish in the oven or on the grill.

Pesto Cavatappi (Noodles & Company Copycat)

There’s so much to love about springy pasta, creamy pesto sauce, and bright diced tomatoes, so it’s no wonder Pesto Cavatappi is Noodles and Company’s most popular dish. Here’s the perfected copycat recipe that’s faster, less expensive, and maybe even just a little more delicious.

15 minutes
View Recipe

More homemade sauces

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A bowl of pesto with a spoon in it.

Basil Pesto

Turn your summer basil bumper crop into Basil Pesto and freeze it for colder days ahead. It's easy to make and ready in 10 minutes or less.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 8 (2 tbsp) servings
Course Pantry
Cuisine Italian
Calories 166
5 from 5 votes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • In a food processor or blender, add basil, parsley, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and garlic. Pulse until coarsely chopped, about 10 pulses.
  • With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Notes

  1. Parsley: A handful of fresh parsley ensures that your pesto is always bright green (basil can dark when it gets bruised).
  2. Pine nuts: For more flavor, toast the pine nuts. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat pine nuts until browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 2 to 5 minutes.
  3. Garlic: Soften its raw taste by roasting garlic. In a dry medium skillet over medium-low heat, toast unpeeled garlic cloves until spotty, dark brown, and slightly softened, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely before peeling.
  4. Yield: This recipe makes 1 cup of pesto, enough for 1 pound of pasta.
  5. Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Add a layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidation.
  6. Freezer: Pour into a jar and float a layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidation. Leave enough space at the top of the jar for expansion, then freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  7. More nuts: Substitute an equal amount of almondspecanscashews, or hazelnuts. Or try my basil walnut pesto.
  8. Spicy: Add ¼ teaspoon or more crushed red pepper flakes to the food processor before blending.
  9. Kale pesto: Omit the parsley, decrease the basil to 1 cup, and add 2 cups packed kale leaves.
  10. Pesto roasted chicken: Rub pesto under and on the skin of your next whole bird, then roast to perfection.
  11. Pesto cheese breadSlice a loaf of bread in half lengthwise, then spread a thick layer of pesto over each side. Top with cheese, then finish in the oven or on the grill.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tbspCalories: 166kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 2gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 55mgPotassium: 92mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 974IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 61mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. This recipe SUCKS if I knew the the amount of ingredients (ie cups or teaspoons) I would have used it. Since you did not list them I cannot make this TODAY as I had planned, since I already picked all of the plants from my garden this morning. I will have to do the best I can figure out. I am very disappointed and will have to wing it, I have used your site before and never had these problems! I hope you can continue the service I have always had before!!

    1. Hi Linda, thank you for your comment and sorry for the confusion. The ingredient amounts are listed in the recipe card in the post. It can be accessed by clicking the large “Jump to Recipe” button on the right of the post towards the top of the page, or by scrolling down to right above where you were able to write a comment. There is also a slide bar in the recipe that allows you to adjust the servings, so you can make as much basil pesto as needed for your recipe. Here are the ingredient amounts to make about 16 tablespoons or 1 cup. You can always taste and adjust the flavors to your liking. I hope you try this again and love it. Sorry again for the confusion, Linda. Take care! – Meggan

      Basil Pesto Ingredients:
      β–’2 cups fresh basil leaves packed
      β–’1 cup fresh parsley packed (see note 1)
      β–’1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
      β–’1/4 cup pine nuts (see note 2)
      β–’3 cloves garlic (see note 3)
      β–’1/2 cup olive oil
      β–’Salt and freshly ground black pepper