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This Easy Homemade Pesto will make you say goodbye to the store bought version forever. Just a handful of ingredients is all you need for this toasty, fresh, herbaceous pesto!

homemade pesto in a jar with some basil around it.

Easy Homemade Pesto

If you’ve ever wanted to make your own pesto but are scared of it, don’t be because nothing could be easier! The great thing about this sauce is that it’s so versatile, you can literally use any greens you have; basil, arugula, cilantro, parsley, truly whatever your heart desires. I like to play around with different nuts like walnuts or pecans, almonds, pistachios or even cashews.

At the end of the day we’re just going for an all purpose condiment that is both toasty and warm, while also bursting with herby freshness and lots of garlic tang!

Ingredient Notes

  • Pine nuts – Toasted pine nuts are the key to making this sauce truly spectacular. Whether you opt for walnuts, pistachios, cashews, etc, be sure to toast them before hand.
  • Basil – This recipe is perfect for using up that fresh basil before it begins to go brown. Thai basil can be substituted if need be but keep in mind it will give the sauce a sweeter, liquorice flavor. Whatever herb you choose be sure it is fresh, otherwise the sauce won’t come together.
  • Parmesan cheese – A hard, sharp cheese is ideal for this recipe. If you have no Parmesan on hand, Pecorino is a fine substitute.
  • Olive oil – Any will do but if you have a bottle of the nice stuff laying around, use it.
  • Garlic – Be sure to use fresh cloves, we want these to puree to a creamy consistency.

How To Make Easy Homemade Pesto

  1. Toast the nuts: Toast the pine nuts dry in a small skillet for 2 – 3 minutes. Be mindful that pine nuts tend to burn easily so keep an eye on them, we just want a nice brown color on them.
  2. Blend all the ingredients: Add the ingredients to a food processor and blend together, pulsing in 5 – 10 second bursts till everything is pretty smooth and well incorporated. If you find the sauce is dry add more olive oil, just a tbsp at a time. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

FAQs & Expert Tips

FAQS

What is pesto?

Pesto is an Italian sauce, one that doesn’t require hours of simmering or a laundry list of ingredients. A basic traditional pesto uses crushed garlic, pine nuts, basil, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Usually served on pasta, this sauce has so many uses and I’ve included my favorite recipes that include it at the bottom of the page.

Are you supposed to cook pesto?

No, pesto should never be cooked. If you cook it, you’re changing it completely and will turn darker. Pesto should be served fresh tossed with cooked pasta.

What is the ratio of pesto to pasta?

For every pound of linguine or spaghetti, use 2/3 cup of pesto and about 1/3 cup of reserved pasta water.

TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST PESTO

  1. Always wash your greens properly, so give that basil a good rinse with cold water and dry it with a salad spinner or between layers of paper towels.
  2. Feel free to adjust the garlic in the recipe. I prefer a really garlicky pesto which is why I use 3 cloves, but if you want less garlic start with 1 clove and give it a taste.
  3. Always toast your pine nuts or whatever nuts you decide to go with. Toasting the nuts will deepen the flavor therefore giving you a tastier sauce.
  4. I like to fill an ice cube tray with my pesto and place it in the freezer for a quick pop of flavor in my dishes that ready on hand.

homemade pesto in a jar with some basil around it.

Storing Pesto

Store in an airtight container for 5 – 7 days in the fridge but don’t be afraid to freeze your creation! It will last beautifully for up to 3 months in the freezer.

 

RECIPE

This Easy Homemade Pesto will make you say goodbye to the store bought version. A handful of ingredients is all you need for this no fail delicious pesto!

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 2 oz basil fresh, about 2 cups packed
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled
  • ¼ tsp salt or to taste
  • ¼ tsp pepper or to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Toast the pine nuts: Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet for 2 to 3 minutes, watching them carefully as they have a tendency to burn easily.
  • Blend all the ingredients: Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend everything together, pulsing in 5 to 10 second bursts. Continue blending until the texture is pretty smooth. If you find that the pesto is too dry and are having trouble blending it add a couple tbsp of water, or a bit more olive oil.
  • Adjust seasoning: Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.

RECIPE NOTES

  1. Recipe yields abut 1½ cups.
  2. Always wash your greens properly, so give that basil a good rinse with cold water and dry it with a salad spinner or between layers of paper towels.
  3. Feel free to adjust the garlic in the recipe. I prefer a really garlicky pesto which is why I use 3 cloves, but if you want less garlic start with 1 clove and give it a taste.
  4. Always toast your pine nuts or whatever nuts you decide to go with. Toasting the nuts will deepen the flavor therefore giving you a tastier sauce.
  5. I like to fill an ice cube tray with my pesto and place it in the freezer for a quick pop of flavor in my dishes that ready on hand.
  6. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or up to 3 months in a freezer.
  7. Nutritional information is for ¼ cup of pesto.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 0.25cupCalories: 272kcal (14%)Carbohydrates: 2g (1%)Protein: 4g (8%)Fat: 27g (42%)Saturated Fat: 4g (25%)Cholesterol: 5mg (2%)Sodium: 231mg (10%)Potassium: 108mg (3%)Vitamin A: 565IU (11%)Vitamin C: 2.1mg (3%)Calcium: 120mg (12%)Iron: 1.1mg (6%)
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