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.
Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Basil Walnut Pesto Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Basil walnut pesto ingredients.

Ingredient notes

  • Parsley: Basil can easily turn brown in a food processor from bruising. Add a handful of fresh parsley to preserve 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.

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,…

15 minutes
View Recipe

More homemade sauces

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!
5 from 32 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 8 servings (2 tbsp each)
Course Pantry
Cuisine Italian
Calories 161

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves packed
  • 1 cups fresh parsley packed (see note 1)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese about 1 ounce
  • 1/4 cup walnuts about 1 ounce (see note 2)
  • 3 cloves garlic (see note 3)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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 roasted chicken: Rub pesto under and on the skin of your next whole bird, then roast to perfection.
  11. 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.
  12. Pesto cavatappi: This Noodles & Co. copycat dresses up pesto with a splash of cream and fresh tomatoes.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tbspCalories: 161kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 2gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 55mgPotassium: 83mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 974IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 1mg
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Comments

  1. Amazing! This is exactly what I was looking for! Delicious healthy recipes with different variations to best suit different diets! And it is easy to make, and it is so much fun trying the different variastions! Thank you so much!!!

  2. Super easy to make. I usually use pine nuts in my pesto recipe, but could not locate them at Costco this time. Great tip on toasting the walnuts. first. That add a nice aroma and flavor to the pesto. I also substitute 1/2 of the parsley with cilantros. Will definitely make this again. Thank you for sharing. :)5 stars

  3. I’m leaving 5 stars for alson having a video with different ways to use the featured recipe. I don’t use pesto that much but it was nice to have a video with different ideas on how to use it. I also like the extra tips in the recipe itself like adding parsley so the basil doesn’t turn brown. I’m going to save & follow this website5 stars

  4. This was great! I didn’t measure everything exactly, but I got pretty close eyeballing m. I ended up making it too salty though , so to counter that I added a little honey (didn’t have sugar ) it canceled the salt a bit, but then was too sweat. So I added lemon juice, and I believe this all pulled together quite nicely :) sort of has a more complex taste. It’s really about following the recipe as stated, and adjusting to taste to personal preference. :)5 stars

    1. Hi Linda, either one of those works. It’s all just going to end up in the food processor or blender anyway. So whatever you want to do works fine! Thank you! -Meggan

  5. My husband I are traditionalists. We have been making pesto since the 70’s, using pine nuts and were skeptical of the exchange with walnuts. We had a bumper crop of basil this year and the cost of pine nuts is crazy high, so we thought we would try the walnuts. I toasted the walnuts and garlic in our air fryer. I added 1 additional clove of raw garlic ( total of 7 cloves). Prepped it in our Vitamix with all ingredients as listed. I really packed the basil and Italian parsley to a full measure. We were so pleased. This is now our favorite pesto recipe. Everything was in perfect balance. I put the rest in small containers and placed in freezer. Thank you so much.5 stars

    1. Hi Holly, what a lovely comment. I know, the price of pine nuts gets me every time. You just can’t really make a pile of pesto with those prices! I am so pleased that you enjoyed the walnuts. I always do, too. Take care and thanks again. -Meggan

  6. I agree with Jennifer – toasting the garlic and walnuts really made this special! Thanks!5 stars

  7. Reading down thru the comments in regards to canning. I home can. Do yourselves a favor and do not can anything that’s not recommended by the USDA AKA the Ball Blue Book on Canning. There’s lots of stuff on the INTERNET from non-tested sources regarding canning many products. Don’t go there. The pH level and temperature are very critical to reducing the production botulin toxins that thrive in low acidity and in a partial vacuum. Most things that can not be canned may be frozen but it’s still best to blanch veggies first. Just eat it fresh. It’s so much simpler.

    From the CDC: What is botulism?
    Botulism is a rare but potentially deadly illness caused by a poison most commonly produced by a germ called Clostridium botulinum. The germ is found in soil and can survive, grow, and produce a toxin in certain conditions, such as when food is improperly canned. The toxin can affect your nerves, paralyze you, and even cause death.
    You cannot see, smell, or taste botulinum toxin—but taking even a small taste of food containing this toxin can be deadly.

  8. Whoa!!! 6 cloves of garlic???? A girl (or recipe) after my heart. I use garlic in every dish except my breakfast dishes. AND I use a lot of it. Your pesto recipe got my attention. I will follow that rec and go you three or more cloves added to the 6 your recipe posts.

    Thanks, wallace5 stars

    1. Hi Theresa! I am not an expert in canning, but I do have a really great book put out by Ball on the subject (it’s called the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving). This is what I can find in the book. 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 Theresa!

  9. Came here from your Noodles and Co pesto cavatappi copy-cat recipe — delicious! My wife and I found it a *tad* too oily, but it’s also possible we didn’t add the full 6 cups of greens, it can be hard to tell exact measurements with those. Still our new go-to pesto recipe, though!5 stars

    1. Thank you so much, Dan! Sorry about the oiliness. I will retest and see how much I can reduce the amount of oil. I was planning on making it today, anyway. Thanks a lot and have a great weekend!

  10. Way too peppery.i suggest less basil or pepper. Or both. The basil already has enough of a peppery taste. 

    1. Hi Greg, sorry to hear that! Definitely a personal preference. I make it just like this and eat it with a spoon, but I will modify the recipe with your feedback to warn people. Thanks for letting me know.

    1. I have kept it for up to a week in the fridge or frozen for much longer (indefinitely?). I would add a thin layer of olive oil over the top of it in the jar, to preserve the bright green color. I hope that helps! I hope you like it. It’s absolutely my favorite. I will literally eat it plain out of the jar. Have a great weekend!

    1. Hi Tony, it means cup – 1 cup of olive oil. It’s a standard abbreviation we use in the US, but you are NOT the first person to ask about this. I’m trying to go back and fix my old recipes and spell that out. Sorry for the confusion! Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  11. Hi – I love the pictures you took for this post, so colorful! I always use walnuts for pesto, too, pine nuts are silly expensive where I live as well. Pinning.