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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!
Course Pantry
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings (2 tbsp each)
Calories 161kcal


  • 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


  • 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.



  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 1/4 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.


Serving: 2tbsp | Calories: 161kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 55mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 974IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1mg