Basil Walnut Pesto

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This Basil Walnut Pesto is ready in 10 minutes or less, and you don’t even need the pricey pine nuts to make it. Turn your summer basil bumper crop into pesto and freeze it for the darkest days of winter. You’ll be glad you did!

A bowl of pesto with a spoon in it.


 

Recipe ingredients

Basil walnut pesto ingredients.

Ingredient notes

  • Parsley: Basil can easily turn brown in a food processor from bruising. Adding a handful of fresh parsley preserves the bright green color.
  • Walnuts: For more flavor, toast the walnuts. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat walnuts until browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 2 to 5 minutes.
  • Garlic: Roasting garlic trades its raw heat for a mellow taste and soft texture. To try this option, 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.

Step-by-step instructions

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

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 1 cup of pesto, enough to dress 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 top with olive oil to prevent oxidation. Leave enough head space at the top of the jar for expansion, then freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • More nuts: Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, or you could substitute an equal amount of almonds, pecans, cashews, or even hazelnuts.
  • 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. Proceed with the recipe as written.
  • Pesto roasted chicken: Rub pesto under and on the skin of your next whole bird, then roast to perfection.
  • Pesto cheese bread: Slice a loaf of bread in half lengthwise, then spread a thick layer of pesto. Top with cheese, then finish in the oven or on the grill.

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A bowl of pesto with a spoon in it.

Basil Walnut Pesto

This Basil Walnut Pesto is ready in 10 minutes or less, and you don't even need the pricey pine nuts to make it. Turn your summer basil bumper crop into pesto and freeze it for the darkest days of winter. You'll be glad you did!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings (2 tbsp each)
Course Pantry
Cuisine Italian
Calories 161
5 from 137 votes

Equipment

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • In a food processor or blender, add basil, parsley, Parmesan cheese, walnuts, 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.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Parsley: Basil can easily turn brown in a food processor from bruising. Add a handful of fresh parsley to preserve the bright green color.
  2. Walnuts: For more flavor, toast the walnuts. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat walnuts until browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 2 to 5 minutes.
  3. Garlic: Roasting garlic trades its raw heat for a mellow taste and soft texture. To try this option, 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.
  4. Yield: This recipe makes 1 cup of pesto, enough to dress 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 top with olive oil to prevent oxidation. Leave enough head space at the top of the jar for expansion, then freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  7. More nuts: Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, or you could substitute an equal amount of almonds, pecans, cashews, or even hazelnuts.
  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. Proceed with the recipe as written.
  10. Pesto cheese bread: Slice a loaf of bread in half lengthwise, then spread a thick layer of pesto. Top with cheese, then finish in the oven or on the grill.
  11. Pesto cavatappi: This Noodles & Co. copycat dresses up pesto with a splash of cream and fresh tomatoes.

Nutrition

Serving: 2 tbspCalories: 161kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 2gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 55mgPotassium: 83mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 974IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 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. Thank you so much Victoria! I’m so happy to hear that. I really love the walnut version. Walnuts are cheaper and I actually prefer their flavor in pesto anyway. Thanks so much for the comment, and take care! -Meggan

  1. quick and easy! thanks for sharing! didn’t want the basil we grew go to waste! and this is yummy. and thanks for the tip about parsley!5 stars

    1. Hi Patti, thank you for your question! I’m sorry, I’m not an expert in canning, but I do have a really great book put out by Ball on the subject. They do have a Pesto recipe, but it’s in the “freezer” chapter. They also talk a lot about low-acid vs. high-acid foods, and based on the pH scale they have, I believe herbs would fall under “low acid” and would need to be pressure-canned, not just a standard water bath. Again, not an expert here but that is the info I’ve found in my canning book. I hope that helps! Thanks for your question! – Meggan

  2. Excellent!!! This turned out so yummy and I was so excited to use walnuts because I hadn’t tried that before and it turned out great. Thank you!!5 stars

    1. You’re so welcome, Melinda! Thank you for trying the recipe! I’m glad you loved it! – Meggan

  3. It was the best pesto I have ever made. I froze in small glass containers and placed olive oil on top before closing. I searched for pesto recipe with walnuts because pinenuts are $11 for a very small bag at the Italian store. Delish. Thank you.5 stars

    1. Hi Linda, you are welcome! I love that you freeze it for later! Thank you and take care! – Meggan

  4. This one’s a keeper, refresbing variation to the classic. Addition of lime juice and balsamic or cider vinegar adds an interesting note.5 stars

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