Learn how to make a classic pesto sauce with this easy-to-follow recipe! It’s so fresh and flavorful and has many uses other than pasta. Plus, it’s SUPER EASY! 6-ingredients, low-carb, Keto, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan option
Every summer I look forward to making basil pesto sauce from my basil plants. The fresh flavor is absolutely amazing! I’ll make it and add it to spaghetti and drink my favorite red wine with it.
It’s a taste of Italy for sure and has become a summer tradition. But, you can make this recipe with grocery store basil so, don’t let the season deter you from making it any other time. It’ll be just as good.
Basil pesto sauce is made in two simple steps with minimal prep. See below and the printable recipe card is at the bottom of the post. Make this recipe vegan by omitting the cheese. Make it nut free by omitting the pine nuts.
What is basil pesto made of?
Basil pesto is made with fresh basil leaves that you can find in the produce section of the grocery store. Basil is an aromatic herb that is used widely in Italian cuisine. It smells amazing.
Classic basil pesto is made with basil, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and sometimes lemon juice or zest. However, there are many variations of basil pesto with and without nuts. Simply omit the nuts if you prefer.
How do you make basil pesto from scratch?
- First, toast pine nuts. (Place them in a skillet on your stove and heat until they start browning- about two minutes. Don’t walk away or they’ll burn- trust me I’ve done it.)
- Next, add pine nuts, basil leaves, olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, salt and lemon juice to a food processor and mix.
Isn’t that easy?
How do you use basil pesto sauce?
The most common way to use basil pesto sauce is to mix it with cooked and drained pasta (or zoodles.) Also, you can add it to gnocchi or filled pastas such as, ravioli or tortellini.
I use pesto sauce in my Chicken Pesto Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes. However, it can also be used in appetizers such as this delicious Puff Pastry Pesto Chicken Bites Appetizer or used as a sandwich spread for a panini, flat breads or other sandwiches.
You can also mix it with mayonnaise, cream cheese or sour cream to use as a dip or spread.
It’s versatile! I freeze my homemade pesto sauce and then when I run out I keep a store-bought jar in my pantry for a last-minute dinners.
Do you have to cook basil pesto?
No. Just toss it in cooked, drained pasta and it’ll heat up with hot pasta. You don’t need to cook pesto sauce.
Can you make pesto without nuts?
Yes. Simply omit the nuts in this recipe.
How to freeze pesto with fresh basil
Put the freshly made pesto in a plastic freezer zipper bag, label it and place it in your freezer for up to six months although it may last longer.
Learning to make basil pesto sauce is super simple. You’re going to love the flavor it gives to your dishes, not just pasta. Wow your family with this delicious recipe!
Basil Pesto Sauce
- food processor
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves rinsed
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 oz pine nuts
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp lemon zest or juice optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- First, toast pine nuts: Place them in a small skillet on med/high heat. Stir them until you see them starting to brown (about three minutes) and remove from heat (Don't walk away as they can burn quickly.)
- Then, in a food processor add all ingredients. Mix for about 30 seconds or until it becomes a sauce.
- This is what the consistency should look like.