Published Aug 07, 2020, Updated May 14, 2021
This post may include affiliate links. Thank you for your support.
This easy pesto recipe is the perfect way to enjoy fresh basil. It’s so quick to whip up (with just 6 ingredients) and tastes so much better than store-bought pesto.
During the summer months we always have a basil plant in the backyard and I make a batch of this pesto at least once every couple weeks.
Pesto is so easy to make, but everyone needs a staple pesto recipe in their wheelhouse so I thought I’d share mine. It’s incredibly versatile, comes together in no time and takes just about any meal to the next level in terms of flavor!
Like I mentioned above you only need six ingredients for this easy basil pesto.
- fresh basil – I highly recommend using fresh basil for pesto. Dried basil will work in a pinch, but fresh basil makes such a difference!
- pine nuts – if you don’t have pine nuts on hand you can use another nut (cashews, walnuts, pistachios or almonds). Cashews would be my top choice because they have a similar texture to that of pine nuts.
- grated parmesan – Parmigiano-Reggiano is the cheese typically used for authentic pesto, but you can always use other hard cheeses like gruyere or pecorino, if desired. Learn more about the difference between parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano here. One thing I do recommend it buying a fresh hunk of parmesan and grating it yourself. Fresh parm is so much better than packaged parmesan. For this recipe you only need about 1 ounce of parmesan.
- olive oil
- sea salt and pepper
How to Make Pesto
One of the reasons I love pesto is because it’s so simple to make! Just add the basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan into a food processor and pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Add in the oil and process until it’s fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and that’s it!
Here are some easy pesto variations to try based on what you have on hand.
- Can’t find pine nuts? Swap in different nuts! Walnuts, pecans, pistachios or almonds will all work in this recipe.
- Nut free? Skip the nuts all together or use hemp seeds in place of nuts.
- Dairy free? Try this recipe for vegan pesto with walnuts.
- Try different herbs/greens! Use a mix of whatever herbs or greens you have on hand. I’ve made an arugula pesto before, but can’t wait to experiment with other herbs like parsley and cilantro.
How to Use Pesto
Besides being so simple to make, pesto is amazing because it’s incredibly versatile! Here are some fun ways to incorporate pesto into your meals:
- Bruschetta toast with pesto – add pesto to toasted bread and top with chopped tomatoes, roasted veggies and cheese.
- Breakfast – pesto + eggs = perfection… in all forms! I might try making a pesto omelette or even pesto baked egg cups!
- Veggie dip – I love dipping fresh veggies in pesto. It’s also delicious with crackers.
- On pasta – I love using pesto as a pasta sauce! Add some roasted veggies and protein to noodles and pesto and you’ve got a complete meal in no time at all.
- Pizza sauce – swap traditional pizza sauce for pesto for a flavor packed base to your pizza.
- Bake into homemade bread – on the homemade bread kick? Mix in some pesto or swirl some on top before baking.
- Salad dressing – either use pesto as your salad dressing or mix pesto into your favorite dressing for an extra herb-filled punch. Yum!
I typically use this entire batch of pesto when I make it, but if you’re prepping in advance or make a double batch you have a couple of options when it comes to storing.
- Refrigerate – pesto will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
- Freeze – freeze pesto in ice cube trays or muffin tins for individual servings you can defrost and use when you’re ready! You can also freeze the entire batch in an airtight container. Frozen pesto will last up to three months in the freezer. Learn more tips for freezing pesto.
Love Pesto? Try These Recipes:
- Naan Pizza with Butternut Squash and Pesto
- Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad
- Pesto Spaghetti Squash Salad
- Pesto Salmon Bowl
- Almond Pesto Dip
- Carrot and Zucchini Noodles with Pesto and Peas
If you make this homemade pesto be sure to leave a comment and star rating below letting us know how it turned out. Your feedback is so helpful for the EBF team and our readers!
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
- 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, parmesan works too
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
- pinch of ground black pepper, more to taste
- Add basil, garlic, and pine nuts and grated parmesan into a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Storage: Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.