basil pesto in a small gold rimmed bowl with a white spoon

Basil Pesto Recipe

Basil Pesto Recipe

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basil pesto in a small gold rimmed bowl with a white spoon

Basil pesto is a condiment I have been making for years and it’s time that you should too! It is an easy and very customizable condiment that you can put in pastas, sandwiches, salads, and so much more!

My most favorite time of year is when basil plants start showing up at local nurseries and grocery stores. I typically buy my basil plant at Trader Joe’s — the one that is already planted in a pot, and it can last me all summer. It’s the easiest annual herb. It loves water and it loves sun so as long as you can give it those two things, it will THRIVE! There is nothing better than being able to go out on your deck and pluck fresh basil and use as a garnish to liven up a dish or freshen up flavors of a pasta.

With the luxury of having fresh basil all summer long, it means I typically have an abundance and my favorite thing to make with that abundance is basil pesto!

What Is Pesto, and How to Make Pesto?

Traditional basil pesto is a blend of fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. Add all these into a food processor and pulse! It’s really that easy.

How to Use Basil Pesto

There are so many ways to use pesto! The obvious choice most people choose is to use it in pasta. I love using it in my grain bowls like this 15-minute pesto quinoa bowl or using a dollop of it on a caprese pizza. It’s also perfect in pasta salads, sandwiches, even in spaghetti squash. I’ve also tossed roasted vegetables in pesto as well.

a white spoon has basil pesto on top in a gold rimmed bowl


Once you’ve made the classic basil pesto, it’s easy to change it up!

  • Instead of using basil, swap it out for roasted red pepper for a red pepper pesto. It’s excellent in a pasta as well.
  • You can also replace basil for parsley and make a chimichurri to put on top of a grilled steak — yum! Or, make an arugula pesto for a peppery bite!
  • Have you ever heard of sun-dried tomato pesto? It’s so rich and vibrant in flavors in combination with the basil. You’ve got to give it a try.
  • Make it extra creamy by adding an avocado.
  • Replace the pine nuts with another nut like walnut or pistachio.

Storage Instructions

Basil pesto is the perfect candidate for freezing. It is the best way to preserve it and have it year-round, and it won’t turn brown because of the olive oil. I like to store my basil pesto in two tablespoon trays. It’s the perfect amount for when you need it for a dish and it’s a small enough amount that if you need more, you can easily use more in two tablespoon increments. These are the silicone freezer trays I use. They’re so convenient and they make storage so easy!

If you aren’t freezing your basil pesto, you can store it in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. I don’t like storing it for longer because I noticed that it starts to turn brown.

basil pesto in a small gold rimmed bowl with a white spoon


Basil Pesto Recipe

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Course SauceCuisine AmericanKeyword basil pesto recipe, how to make basil pesto, pesto recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes Total Time 5 minutes

Servings 3 ounces
Calories 277kcal
Author Julie Chiou


  • Food processor


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil more for a smoother pesto


  • Add basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor.ingredients for basil pesto in the bowl of a food processor
  • Start to process as you drizzle oil through the feed tube. Add more oil for a smoother pesto, if desired.


Serving: 1ounce | Calories: 277kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 147mg | Potassium: 138mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.5g


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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.