How To Make Pesto

How To Make Pesto -- fresh homemade pesto is so easy to make! |

I realized the other day that it’s been awhile since I’ve made a basic, classic pesto.  Most of the time I love experimenting with random ingredients, and enjoy seeing what creative deliciousness can result.  But with a (still!) overflowing basil plant, and a jar of pine nuts in the pantry, I decided this week that it was time to revisit a classic.  :)

That said, making pesto is undoubtedly more about the method than the recipe.  So I thought this would be a fun post to offer the basics for proportions for pesto ingredients.  And then you can either make the classic recipe, or do some of your own mixing and matching and creative experimenting.  The joy of pesto is that it’s very hard to go wrong here.  Most ingredients blend pretty well together.  And if by chance you do end up adding a little too much of this or that, you can always just add more of the other ingredients and overpower whatever was too strong.

And while pesto is traditionally regarded as a “summer” recipe, I’ve included some year-round ingredient substitution ideas below as well.  Enjoy!!

How To Make Pesto |

Here’s the first photo I posted for pesto back in 2009. :)

How To Make Pesto -- fresh homemade pesto is so easy to make! |

How To Make Pesto -- fresh homemade pesto is so easy to make! |

How To Make Pesto -- fresh homemade pesto is so easy to make! |

How To Make Pesto -- fresh homemade pesto is so easy to make! |

How To Make Pesto -- fresh homemade pesto is so easy to make! |

Possible ingredient substitutions:

*Note that you may need to vary the amounts, as some of these ingredients function differently than those in the recipe.

  • For basil: herbs (parsley, cilantro, sage, mint, tarragon, dill, etc.), greens (spinach, arugula, etc.), veggies (asparagus, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.)
  • For pine nuts: walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios, hemp seeds, etc.
  • For parmesan: romano, asiago, nutritional yeast, etc.
  • Other add-ins: spices (cayenne, chile powder, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, special salts/peppers, etc.), fresh ginger, etc.

Possible uses:

  • Pastas: Simply stir in the sauce after cooking pasta.  Mix with veggies or meats/poultry/seafood.
  • Potatoes or gnocchi: For mashed potatoes or gnocchi, stir in after potatoes are cooked.  Use to top baked potatoes after they are cooked.
  • Spread: Use as a spread on toasted slices of baguettes.  Or spread atop slices of french bread, and pop under the broiler until they are golden and bubbly.
  • Soups: Add a dollop to your favorite soup just before serving.
  • Dips: Use as a dip for fresh veggies, chips, or breads.
  • Drizzle: Add extra oil to thin out sauce, and drizzle atop grilled meat, veggies, or salads.  Or use as a marinade.
  • Pistou: Leave out the nuts, and make this classic thinner French sauce.
  • Sauce it up: Use as you would any other sauce to add flavor (e.g. to top meats/poultry/seafood, to mix into meatloaf, salads, etc.)

How to store:

  • Refrigerate: Store in a jar and tightly seal.  To extend its life and prevent, pour a small layer of olive oil on top to keep the air out of the pesto.  Keep for one week.  (Although many contend it safely last longer, I would freeze the pesto if you want to use it after a week.)
  • Freeze: I love-love-love freezing pesto in ice cube trays.  This way you can control your portions, and just thaw out exactly as much as you need.  To freeze, just grease an ice cube tray with cooking spray (or line it with plastic wrap), and then pour in the pesto and freeze.
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How To: Make Pesto

Making fresh, homemade pesto is so easy, fresh and delicious! Learn how to make pesto with this easy tutorial.


  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (I think the more, the merrier!)
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (or about 1/2 tsp. of each)


  1. In a food processor or blender, blend together basil, nuts, garlic, and cheese.
  2. Pour in oil slowly while still mixing, and then add in salt and pepper.
  3. Scrape down the sides and pulse once more to make sure it’s well-blended.
  4. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
All images and text ©

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

How To Make Pesto -- fresh homemade pesto is so easy to make! |

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82 comments on “How To Make Pesto”

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  6. Delicious recipe! (I tried using sunflower seeds and I think I like better than pine nuts…easier and cheaper to find too.)

    • Thanks, Mea! We’re so glad you enjoyed it and we love that you used sunflower seeds in this — great idea!

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  9. Deliciosa! La favorita de la familia :)

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  14. After making a skewered caprese salad with basil, I used the remaining basil leaves plus the olive oil and spices from the marinated mozzarella pearls to make this pesto recipe. Very easy to make. Fresh is best!

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  16. Looks delicious
    I prepare it same way but 1 question: do u keep it normal in the fridge? Or u cook it? I realised that if i keep it in the fridge some bacteria starts to develop in form of small bubbles. These disappear if i pass my pesto mix on fire for 5 min.

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  18. This recipe is terrific! Super fast and easy to make, the aroma is amazing and the flavour fantastic. We had to make more pasta just so we could have more pesto!

    Rating: 5