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Pistachio Pesto

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This simple basil pistachio pesto recipe is easy to make in the blender or food processor, and loaded up with the best fresh flavors.

Easy Pistachio Pesto Recipe with Basil

It’s fresh basil season! Which means it’s officially time to make a million batches of fresh pesto, and toss it, scoop it, drizzle it, stir it into All The Things. ♡ ♡ ♡

But hey, instead of adding traditional pine nuts to your pesto this season, try adding in a handful of pistachios instead!

Those irresistible little nuts pair perfectly with the other ingredients in traditional basil pesto, and add an extra hint of sweet, rich flavor that’s certain to have everyone reaching for more. (Especially when it comes to this pasta salad recipe, which is also new on blog today – check it out!)  And, as with any pesto recipe, this one is quick and easy to make in the food processor or blender, it’s endlessly customizable (and can also be made vegan), it can be used in countless dishes, and it is crazy good.

So grab a handful of pistachios and — I mean, definitely snack on a few, but then save the rest and — let’s make a batch!

How To Make Pesto

Pistachio Pesto Ingredients:

To make this pistachio pesto recipe, you will need:

  • Fresh Basil Leaves: To measure these, lightly pack them down into a measuring cup.
  • Shelled Pistachios: Don’t worry, if yours have shells on them, it’ll only take about 5 minutes to pop them off
  • Parmesan Cheese: Freshly and finely grated (you can use pre-grated cheese to save a step, but will need a bit more since it’s not as flavorful)
  • Garlic: Always
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: ♡♡♡
  • Salt and Black Pepper: Probably the biggest mistake people make with pesto is not seasoning it enough, so be sure to taste and add more salt and pepper if needed

Pistachio Pesto Sauce

How To Make Pistachio Pesto:

To make homemade pesto, simply…

  1. Pulse dry ingredients together in a blender or food processor until combined. Basically, everything except the olive oil. Pulse until everything is finely-chopped.
  2. Drizzle in the olive oil. Then while your blender or food processor is still running, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until the mixture is combined. Puree until smooth, stopping if needed too scrape down the sides so that everything is evenly mixed. Also, if your pesto is too thick, feel free to thin it out with a few tablespoons of extra olive oil or water.
  3. Taste and season.  Give the sauce a taste (you can dip a veggie stick or piece of bread in, if you’d like), and season with extra salt and pepper if needed. Also, feel free to add in extra Parmesan or basil or garlic if you’d like more of those flavors.
  4. Use immediately or store.  And enjoy!

How To Make Pistachio Pesto in the Food Processor

Pesto Recipe Variations:

Oh boy, there are infinite variations you could make to this pesto recipe. Here are a few though!

  • Swap in different greens/herbs: In lieu of basil (or mixed with basil), you could swap in baby arugula, spinach, parsley, cilantro, etc.
  • Swap in different nuts: In lieu of pistachios, swap in walnuts, pecans, almonds, pepitas, or any other favorite nut.
  • Nix the cheese: If you would like to make vegan pesto, sub 3-5 tablespoons (to taste) nutritional yeast in place of the Parmesan.
  • Add some heat: I’m a big fan of adding in a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes to give pesto an extra kick.

Ways To Use Pistachio Pesto:

There are also, of course, endless ways to use this pistachio pesto! Some of my faves include using it as a:

  • Pasta or gnocchi sauce: Always so delicious!
  • Dipper for fresh veggies or bread: Perfect as an appetizer or snack.
  • Mixed into mashed potatoes: Leave out some of the butter and mix in some pesto instead!
  • Salad dressing: Just add in some extra oil or water to thin it out, then toss with your fave salad.
  • Pizza or crostini sauce: So simple and flavorful.
  • Soup garnish: Perfect with so many Italian soups.
  • Protein or veggie sauce: Pesto can pair well with nearly any meat, chicken or seafood, as well as just about every kind of cooked vegetable. So feel free to use it as a finishing sauce for any protein or veggie dishes (especially grilled in the summertime).

How To Store Pesto:

How To Refrigerate Pesto: To refrigerate pesto, store it in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Also, to prevent browning and also help the pesto last a bit longer, feel free to pour a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto to cover its surface. Or alternatively, you can place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the surface of the pesto.

How To Freeze Pesto: Pesto also freezes beautifully! You can freeze it in large batches if you would like. But my favorite method is freezing it in ice cube trays so that it is divided up into small, versatile portions. Just freeze, then pop the cubes out and into a freezer bag, and re-freeze until ready to use.

Enjoy, everyone!

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Pistachio Pesto

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 15 reviews
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 0 About 1.5 cups 1x


This simple basil pistachio pesto recipe is easy to make in the blender or food processor, and loaded up with the best fresh flavors!  See notes above for possible ingredient substitutions.


  • 3 cups lightly-packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. In a food processor or blender, pulse the basil, Parmesan, pistachios, garlic, salt and pepper together until finely-chopped.
  2. With the food processor or blender still running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it is completely combined.  Pause the food processor or blender and scrape down the sides, then pulse again until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Serve immediately.  Or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

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26 comments on “Pistachio Pesto”

  1. Living it Italy I make pesto regularly!!!! The favorite at the moment is zucchini pesto (great for getting the kids to eat their vegetables as they don’t even realize)!

  2. Yum! This is a wonderful recipe to use up some CSA stuff! I used basil, parsley and kale and took the nutritional yeast swap! It is amazing! Making your pistachio pesto pasta salad tonight!
    Thanks for the ideas!

  3. I love pesto too, and pistachio infused pesto even better, I really enjoy your sauce recipes, this one included, thank you

  4. I can’t wait to try pistachios in pesto!!! :) It’s been WAY too long since I’ve made homemade pesto.

  5. I love basil season and fresh pesto! and this sauce looks super yummy! can’t wait to try :)

  6. I’m kind of in love with this idea of adding pistachios!

  7. My daughter and I tried this yesterday. It turned out beautifully. So delicious, we wanted to eat the whole thing. We’ll definitely be making this again and again.

  8. We had pistachio pesto in Sicily and I found this recipe to try to replicate it. It was very garlicky – even though I blanched the garlic to cut the bite, but maybe my cloves were too big! I also think the Sicilian version had more pistachios – they were a dominant flavor. So next time I will halve the garlic and double the pistachio. But even as-is, my family declared it “so good!” We served it with fresh whipped ricotta with lemon and olive oil topped with farmers market cherry tomatoes, which was a delicious side.

  9. Vegans, don’t forget to use the vegan Parmesan cheese recipe in this pesto from Gimme Some Oven!

  10. Really great recipe. We used fresh home made tagliatelle.

    I cant wait to have this again

  11. So good! No modifications made.

  12. hello can you tell me if you use salted or unsalted pistachios

  13. Easy and delicious!

  14. I love this better than walnuts or pine nuts. In fact, I don’ like the flavour of pine nuts. With pistachio nuts, this lives well on the tongue with the garlic brightness and the pistachio sweetness. I combined basil leaves with rocha leaves and also added the young stems of the basil (not the hard stems). I wonder whether a bit of lemon juice might add more spark. I added enough olive oil to still keep the consistency a little thick and not sloppy. Anyway…..this was delicious ….Have you ever tried adding lemon juice? I just don’t want to muck it up next time if I do add a touch. Thank you for this green heaven!! I love pesto in granary bread with deli meat for lunch, or else mixed in plain yoghurt for a condiment with fish or chicken….and of course just stirred into some steaming hot and drained linguine…:)

  15. Big fan of this recipe. The ratios are great and the pistachios make for a better pesto than pine nuts IMO. I add a little red pepper flake for a little kick on the back end.

  16. This is one of the best things I’ve ever made! So easy too!

  17. Great recipe ,I loved how you added that you can add your own variation to this recipe .
    I used parsley ,and added lemon juice to add a bit of citrus and liven it up as the parsley can be too herby. Pan fried a bit of Roma tomato with onion and topped it with the pesto on my plain noodles ! Delicious!

  18. Living in Arizona we are able to grow basil all year long. Today one of my bushes needed to be pruned back so I had tons of basil to work with. I made three batches of this and my husband said it was a stunning flavor. I made it exactly as you wrote it and would not change a thing. Each batch made a 1/2 pint.

  19. Excellent!! I will be using this recipe again.

  20. I needed to trim my basil plant tonight so made this recipe with what I had on hand. I have to confess that I rarely measure and this was no exception. But I eyeballed the ingredients – added 4/5 cloves of garlic (because there is no such thing as too much…smile), my pistachios were already roasted and salted so I added very little salt. I left it a little thick, mostly because my blender is not the best and the small batch was getting stuck around the blades. I scooped what I could into a jar. Then I used some of the hot pasta water to loosen the bits that were stuck in the blender pitcher. It was the perfect for my side of pasta for dinner. I drizzled a little more oil and a squeeze of lemon juice over the top of the pasta and it was delicious!

  21. hi, a big fan of your recipes. could you please also post quantities in grams (or weight instead of volume)? esp with leaves and herbs its a lot more accurate. thanks!

  22. Made this without parmesan cheese — vegan option. It is absolutely delicious — and, yes, don’t skimp on the salt!

  23. Freezing in ice cube trays is amazing! Putting pesto on chicken to marinate… yummy

  24. This recipe is YUMMY!

  25. I LOVE this recipe and it’s so easy. I really wanted pesto because I had a lot of fresh basil growing. I had never used pistachios before in a pesto, always pine nuts. Like a couple of others I now prefer the pistachios. All I had were the roasted and salted version and this recipe turned out incredible. I wanted to eat it by the spoon full. I used it on spaghetti squash and caprese salad and it was delicious. I love the idea to use it as a chicken marinade. Also to freeze it in ice cubes, as another reviewer suggested, to have the fresh taste of basil all year. Enjoy!

  26. This was great!