Fresh Basil Pesto

Classic, simple basil pesto recipe with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Romano or Parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 1 cup.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic and cheese and pulse a few times more.

2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.

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Comments

  1. Gina

    Hi Elise,
    Will this freeze or can well? We have a whole lot of basil and it sounds like this would be a wonderful way to fix it.

  2. carol

    I dont know about canning, but I have been freezing a pesto base for years. I use about 5 cups of leaves, and enough olive oil to make it process well. I freeze this flat in freeser bags. Then when you want it, (in January!), just peel off the bag, break it up into a bowl and defrost, then you can add garlic, oregano, and enough cheese to turn the color pea green. I prefer
    Romano too. Then I add a ladleful of the pasta water just before i serve. Taste before you add salt.

  3. Judith in Umbria

    My pesto may be even easier, and I also freeze FPed basil with only oil for winter use– it is usable for more than just pesto that way.
    My part of Italy is not a pesto zone, so I am the only one in my neighborhood who makes it. And they all love it when I do! Last week’s treasure was poached chicken breast, cut into large cubes and tossed with pesto while hot. Then it was chilled and eaten with chunks of ripe ripe tomatoes on the side.

  4. Renee

    I have a lovely ‘lighter’ recipe for pesto that adds about 1/2 cup of mine for every 1 cup basil and substitutes lemon juice and lemon zest for most of the oil and cheese. (Is this pitchfork territory, again?)

    I’ve never thought of freezing it, but that sounds like a great way to remember summer in the middle of a drizzly autumn.

  5. Salena

    I made pesto a few weeks ago, and the recipe I used called for toasted pine nuts. I usually just use raw, but I thought I’d give it a try. While I was whizzing them in my food processor, they gave off the most indescribably delectible smell, and my pesto tasted amazing! I highly recommend it, as it only takes a minute to toast them dry in a frying pan.

  6. Betsy

    We love pesto. Instead of olive oil I use a cake of firm tofu and 2/3c. milk for the base. Makes up for the high calorie nuts, I guess!

  7. Connie

    I sent this recipe to my friend Meredith, who purchased half a pound of basil on Sunday. We just had it with a really great pasta, with a bit of wilted spinach. Our minds are officially blown, this was delicious. She was going to freeze it, but I have a feeling this is going to be gone by the end of the week before that actually happens.

  8. nadiaibis

    I was wondering, is it possible to make pesto using almond meal instead of pine or walnuts?

    You can make pesto with practically any nut, almonds will work too. ~Elise

  9. Fred Aldinger

    I have been making pesto for several years and have found that the top of the pesto turns black or brown after refrigeration or freezing. What causes this and what can be done to prevent it? It doesn’t change the taste, just looks awful. Thanks!

  10. Lorraine

    I have successfully frozen pesto for years and prevent the top turning black by adding a thin film of olive oil to the container before I place it in the freezer (I think it prevents air discoloring the basil). Good to freeze in an iceblock tray, although it freezes soft and it is not difficult to break small amounts off a largish block for use. Happy eating!

  11. Sarah

    Two pesto comments:
    We freeze just the basil leaves tossed with a bit of olive oil. This works perfect and you can use the frozen basil leaves for other dishes. We stuff 2 cups into zip lock bags and squeeze the air out. I usually put up about 40 packages a year. You can cut your basil back, put up the leaves and it will grow again for another harvest.

    We use almonds in our pesto. I don’t know how we got started on that, but we’re used to the taste and actually prefer it to walnuts or pine nuts. We also toss the pesto with about 2 cups of cottage cheese per one pound of spaghetti. We like it that way. We eat pesto about once a week here!

  12. Joyce Sloan

    This is my first time in trying to make pesto. Always waited for my friend to make it. I found your receipe on the internet and tried it. It was so easy and great. The only thing I did different was that I didn’t have any pine nuts only smoked almonds I used them and it was great. Looking forward to finding more receipes from you.

  13. rhonda wright

    I also make a pesto that I freeze, I learned this from my mother. We put lots of fresh basil into food processor, add about 3 bulbs of garlic (yes lots of garlic!), and while processing add very good quality olive oil until it makes a nice consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. This time I added too much olive oil so I went into my backyard picked our flat leaf Italian parsley and added that for extra flavour! Let mixture sit in bowl for an hour to cure. Then put pesto into small canning jars. Don’t fill too much leave room to cover pesto with olive oil (this keeps air from getting to your prized basil.) Screw caps on clean jars tightly then freeze. When you need pesto take a jar out of freezer let dethaw and keep in fridge. After each time you use pesto out of fridge put a bit more oil on top to keep air off pesto again. Pesto will last a few weeks in your fridge. When done that jar get a new one out of freezer. Hope this idea helps someone.

  14. Jennifer

    Was just browsing on a break at work and was looking for new uses for pesto. I saw the chicken cubes with tomatoes (above). I could see those wrapped up in some butter or boston lettuce leaves for a quick lunch wrap. Yummy will have to try.

    I also noticed other pesto recipes hanging out in the recipe shop and thought I’d add my 2 cents. I’ve made variations of both cilantro and arugula pestos (I’ve also added the parsely before like Rhonda). All delicious!

    Other pestos I’ve made: turnip greens and walnuts, mushroom with walnuts, sundried tomatoes with pine nuts/walnuts (particularly tasty over baked polenta), a mixture of arugala and watercress and pines ( I’ve used pecans before too).

    When pesto was put to me in simply terms I could understand (simply a thick raw sauce), I kinda went a little crazy.

    Now I’m off (when I leave work) to make the traditional pesto and dress some of those chicken cubes for some some mini wraps….My mouth is watering already.

  15. grayghost

    We add about 3 serrano chili’s to our pesto just to give it a kick. We have also made pesto using cilantro ..same recipe you would use for the basil pesto and that is delicious mixed in a black bean soup or black bean paste served with lightly seasoned and grilled turkey. Yummm
    The serranos in our garden are not very hot which is why we add so many but add per your taste. I don’t roast mine before adding them to the basil. I drop them in while the basil leaves are being blended. We also use about double the garlic.

  16. Paul

    I never add salt to pesto because there’s enough salt in the cheese. The pine nuts add much more flavour when toasted but heat a single layer gently in a frying pan until they are just golden.

    Adding a little lemon juice will help to stop the pesto darkening when defrosted.

  17. Jim Demers

    Here’s a fabulous and absurdly easy main dish:

    Set oven to 350 degrees. Place salmon fillets on a greased sheet of aluminum foil, in a pan or cookie sheet. Slather with pesto, and bake 20 minutes at 350 (or until fish just starts to flake).

    That’s it! Saute some fresh veggies while the fish is cooking, serve with rice or potatoes, and you have a wonderful meal.

    If the fillets have the skin on, and you don’t want to serve it that way, don’t grease the foil. The skin will stick to the foil, and you can cleanly lift the cooked fish with a spatula.

  18. Dru Cook

    I love pesto – and I have 72 Basil plants out in the Greenhouse… just finished making several batches of it and some is in Mason Jars in the Fridge with a layer of Olive oil covering it. Some is in a jar for immediate use over the next couple of days (partially consumed during the pesto making session).

    I am also trying to freeze some in ice cube trays and once frozen I hope to save the cubes in a foodsaver bag…(this is an experiment as I have never frozen pesto)- I am curious about the freezing of pesto in those small mason jars as Juanita mentions above… would the jars not break when the pesto freezes and expands? I would love to hear more on that as this way I can top with olive oil to prevent the discoloration I hope.

    My Pesto recipe is as follows;

    2 cups Fresh Basil leaves (Well Packed)
    4 large cloves fresh Garlic
    1/2 cup Pine Nuts (Toasted GBD)
    3/4 tsp Sea Salt
    1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
    3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano freshly grated
    1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    GBD means Golden Brown and Delicious. The Sea Salt is the table salt grain size not kosher size. Parmigiano-Reggiano… There is really no substitute in my opinion for the real thing – and finally Extra Virgin Olive Oil – yes this is the time for the good stuff!

  19. maria

    Well, here in Greece basil is… everywhere…and we also have “winter basil” plants which means that they have leaves during winter too… I simply love pesto. I add it almost everywhere. Just a spoonflull almost on top of evry salad, sandwich, grilled meat, even fish… I cannot get enough of it. And my questions are rwo:
    1)The same as dru asks Juanita. Dont the jars break in the freezer or are they special for freezers?
    2)I have tried everything and i cannot avoid discoloration. Even if you add oil on top, you have to keep on doing it everytime you scoop out some pesto from the jar. That means that with each addition the mixture turns more oily everytime. Plus, everytime you take some from the jar, even to use it as spread on a slice of warm whole weat bread, you put all that oil on it too. So any other ideas would be appreciated although i think there is no solution to this.
    God bless you all, keep those mixers spinning!

  20. Marilyn Zvacek

    Not having pine nuts on hand, I used cashews. I also grated the garlic on a micro plane ensuring there would be no bits of garlic to bite into. I greased a muffin tin, put the pesto in and quick froze. Then I popped the frozen pesto “cupcakes” out, put them in a big freezer bag and stored in freezer for future use. I varied the size of the “cupcakes” so that I would have all sizes and not have to deal with leftover pesto.

  21. Loretta

    I have been freezing my pesto for years in jars-no breakage, just remember to leave a little space at top for expansion. I also put a layer of plastic wrap directly on the top of the pesto before I put the lid on. Press the plastic wrap firmly down and smooth out with fingertips so that no air can get to the pesto. It’s worked for me. I have also added the cheese and garlic before I freeze and it seems to taste pretty good that way, too. Thaw in refridgerator. I have kept it as long as two weeks in the fridge afterwards with no problems, but think one week is probably safer. Loretta

  22. Jurie

    The chilli aspects sounds interesting. I normally use pine nuts (toasted), but saw a recipe using sunflower seeds, so made some yesterday. Really good.

  23. Lisa Delewski

    My question is about jaring in a presure cooker. Can this be done with basil? I would like to make basil and add it to my basket of jared goods that I give out.

  24. Kiss the Cook

    Hey Dru Cook,I tried your recipe. It is very yummy. The olive oil tastes very “green” for my taste but I think with pesto it is all about specific ingredients and adjusting to tastes.

  25. Jan Gilbert

    This is the first time I have made Pesto and this recipe is wonderful. Used Walnuts, not pinenuts but just tasty. The husband loved it too.

  26. Swati

    Thanks for these recipes. Deb, thanks for the tip about blanching. I just made some pesto from a bunch of blanched leaves.

  27. sonia

    This is my first year ever both growing and making pesto. question about the garlic; are “3″ bulbs of garlic, the garlic with all the little peelable little sections still attached, or “3″ little peeled pieces of the big bulb?

    The recipe calls for 3 “cloves” of garlic. One bulb of garlic will contain 10 to 15 cloves or segments of garlic. ~Elise

  28. jackie

    I froze a bunch of pesto last year in ziplock bags. I squeezed all the air out and never had any turn black.

    Also, when I thaw and use the pesto, after I squeeze every bit out of the bag, I run some vinegar through the bag to clean out the last remants. I use this for salad dressing, and it’s wonderful!

  29. taz

    Thanks for the recipe. First time making pesto. Sure beats the ready made stuff one buys from the store. I don’t own a food processor so used a mortar and pestle instead. first ground the pine nuts with garlic, put aside, start grinding the leaves and adding the garlic/nuts mixture back. started adding olive oil when it gets too sticky, then the grated cheese. All the quantities are estimated but the end result was not bad. Licked the spoon clean. :)

  30. heather

    Fabulous! I just made this, first time making pesto and it was wonderful over pasta with asparagus stuffed chicken. Yumm!

  31. Andrew

    I am glad to find this recipe. My basil plant is going crazy and falling over – this will surely help me put it to good use. Now the big problem that remains unsolved – what do I do about my sweet basil plant that is going crazy? I can’t find any recipes that will help me use it up… any suggestions are welcome.

  32. Gale

    In reference to freezing the Pesto;
    How long can Pesto remain frozen and still be safe to eat?…….Can it be frozen for longer than 9 mths?
    I want to freeze some Pesto during the summer and not use it until the winter or even the spring……

    I’ve used frozen pesto that’s a year old. Was fine. ~Elise

  33. Cristina

    I was wondering if you could add a bit of baby spinach for some added nutritional value without throwing off the taste of traditional pesto? Any thoughts?

  34. Brock

    @Cristina-One of the restaurants I used to work at had us mix spinach, about half & half, with basil for their pesto. Don’t really notice the spinach and it kind of softens the taste of the pesto a little. Was never sure if it was a taste thing of if they just did it to extend the basil, but it made nice pesto.

  35. Ariella

    I used this recipe the first time I made pesto- it turned out pretty good! After a few tries I wanted it to be a little creamy, so I added a few drops of milk- and it helped a lot.
    Good job on the recipe anyway. My entire family loves it!

  36. Nicole

    Last year I had an abundance of fresh herbs, including basil, oregano, parsley and thyme, and minced them all in the food processor with very good olive oil. I put the mixture into a lidded cup and froze it and used it all winter when I needed fresh herbs for a dish. I didn’t add salt, as I used what I needed in the dish. It made for a great, fresh herbal taste all during the off-season!

  37. Leni

    Hope you can answer this question: we too have lots of basil and would much prefer to ‘bottle’ it and store it in the cupboard instead of in the freezer. Does anyone know a pesto recipe that can be stored this way?

  38. Sparky

    I’ve tried a number of recipes for pesto including different types of cheeses (I kinda like asiago). During the off season I find that using dried basil works just fine, and is easier to prepare than frozen pesto. I cut the dried basil to 1/2 the quantity of fresh leaves.

  39. Joanne

    I freeze pesto in ice cube trays, so I can pop out as many as I need. I cover the tray in plastic cling wrap and make sure the wrap is sitting right down on the pesto to help prevent colour change

  40. joan

    Does anyone wash the homegrown basil before processing? Seems that the complete drying time would take a few hours, but there’s bound to be dust and other stuff on all those leaves. Part of me wants to wash it and part of me doesn’t want to bother! Any comments?

    I rinse off the basil I pick with water, check carefully for bugs, and pat dry with paper towels. ~Elise

  41. Norma

    To prevent the basil / pesto from turning black, just blanch the leaves and then shock them in ice water — this will give you a lovely green (or purple if that’s the colour of your leaves) for your pesto.

  42. john

    The recipe above is a good base pesto recipe. But like some of you I like to dress it up. I always make a batch and add roasted red peppers to the blend. And then I always make a “hot” batch using a thai pepper or whatever I happen to be growing that year. Yummy. Thanks to all for sharing your variations.

  43. Angela

    anjjelikka, I disagree with Elise’s opinion that the pesto will not be as tasty w/o the cheese. I’ve made and had pesto elsewhere without the cheese and it is just as delicious, if not more. Something that helps give a “cheesy” flavor is to lightly toast the pinenuts and use a good quality salt.

  44. Melissa

    Just wanted to chime in on this old one with some new thanks. It’s made me some great pesto three times in a row. I feel like because I succeeded with this, I can now dare to play with it. Thanks Elise!

  45. Mykwl

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ve been trying out several recipes for my birthday dinner, and these are one of the few I’m picking. And it’s with the addition of mint and/or flat leaf parsley!

  46. Tina

    My boyfriend and I just made this pesto tonight to eat with tortellini – it was incredibly delicious! We will definitely make it again! :)

  47. Sarah R

    I have never made pesto before and I didn’t have any of the regular ingredients. I used the tiny bit of basil I had with a ton of spinach, walnuts & feta cheese w/olive oil. It was sooo cream and rich! I added roasted garlic instead of raw and it gave the pesto a smoother taste.

  48. jen

    I have tried pesto many times and I actually prefer it with asiago cheese over parmesan but both ways are delicious. It’s also good with Balsamic vinegar.

  49. Saranya

    Thanks for this recipe! This was the first time I tried cook a dish from a different cuisine, and the basil pesto came out really well. We just followed your recipe to the tee and it came out perfect! The sauce was perfect for a basic pesto pasta. Thanks again!

  50. Kyle

    People will hurf and blurf forever about the “correct” way to make pesto but in all honesty that’s like saying there’s a “correct” way to make salsa or marinara. Basil is the key, defining ingredient but everything else is supportive and thus can be substituted for similar things based on taste, availability, and cost.

    The pine nuts are probably the most commonly substituted ingredient simply because pine nuts are freakin’ expensive. Cashews cost half as much and have similar flavor. Walnuts are even cheaper. If you’re really strapped you could even substitute peanuts, which cost about 1/6 what pine nuts do. The key part being provided here is a nutty flavor and a little toothiness in the mouthfeel. Most any nut will do.

    The oil can also be done to taste or budget. The olive flavor from extra virgin olive oil may be indispensable to some, others may prefer light olive oil for a milder flavor. The oil here is providing fat to bind everything together, keep it fresh, and add fat to round out the flavor and make it a sauce instead of a salad.

    The parmesan is in a gray area. It is second only to the basil in the amount of the flavor profile that it contributes to, so some will find it indispensable (I am one of them). However, any finely grated hard cheese will serve the purpose of thickening the oil and binding it to the other dry ingredients. Some softer ones might even work, I haven’t tried. One thing, though: in the classic recipe, the parmesan provides most or all of the salt going into the sauce. If you substitute it you’ll probably have to add some salt to taste. If you drop the cheese entirely you’ll definitely need to add some salt or it will taste bland.

    The garlic can be raw or cooked. Browning the garlic slowly in some oil will get rid of the astringent properties of raw garlic, but will also mellow out the flavor. And hey, if you don’t like it, leave it out. If you can’t afford or have no access to actual garlic, find a substitution chart and sub in an appropriate amount of garlic powder.

    Pesto was most likely invented as a way to make a cheap, tasty sauce when one had extra basil, using ingredients that were readily available and cheap to be had. Sticking religiously to the classic recipe is not only expensive but contradictory to the original nature of pesto. If you don’t mind using a cheaper nut, oil, or cheese, for god’s sake don’t waste your money. If you prefer a different flavor, same deal. It’s just a sauce, it isn’t like you’re baking a soufflé that’ll fall flat if you do one thing wrong.

  51. Gail

    I made this recipe for the first time and it was gone within a week. I use walnuts because they are cheaper than pine nuts and I can make more pesto! The first time I made it we just stirred it into hot pasta and it was delicious. Then we were using it in everything. My son in law added it to his pumpkin soup with cheese and ricotta ravioli – perfection! Thank you so much.

  52. Jennifer King

    We grow our own basil as well and this recipe is unbelievably easy. This pesto was so good! I made it exactly like the recipe says and we thought it tasted heaps better than any restaurant!

  53. Karen

    Mostly I prefer my pesto without cheese although in one of my favorite “pesto experiments” I used PANIR which I made using fresh goats milk and lemon juice (to curdle the milk). The pesto was light and delicious spread thickly on bread.
    Thank you for sharing your recipe.
    Good eating to all and happy experimenting.
    Karen

  54. Pam

    I just harvested my first basil from my garden and made your pesto recipe!! It was awesome – so vibrant and flavorful! My Italian & Greek grandfather would be so proud if he were here! Thanks for sharing – and thanks to all others who posted as well – I’ve learned an awful lot today! :)

  55. Roger

    We make or own pesto and love it. We also make a pizza with it. We get a pre packaged crust that most stores have hanging on the shelf. Coat the crust with pesto. Cube a chicken breast in about 3/8 inch cubes and brown them in a little olive oil. Put chicken on top of pesto add cheese and bake until cheese is melted. It is hard to eat any other type of pizza after eating one of these.

  56. Stefcja

    The recipe is pretty basic and forgiving. I don’t see any of the post discussing adding a little freshly squeezed lemon juice but we do it that way in our home and the kids suck it down….

  57. Maria

    I grow and make basil all the time. My friends and family can’t get enough. I would like to give our jars to others, but don’t like that it gets that black layer in the jar. At home I can just scoop out that covering before I use, but would not like to give it to others that way. I use some lemon juice and even place a bit of plastic wrap under the lid. Do you think I am using the wrong kind of jars or is there another trick? Please help I would like to try this for the holidays.

    You might put the plastic wrap directly on the pesto so that there is no air touching it. BTW pesto should be refrigerated and eaten up within a week. As directed, these are not canning instructions. If you are thinking of making some to give as gifts for the holidays, you can freeze pesto. If you do freeze pesto, the taste will be better if you freeze it without the Parmesan, and just mix in freshly grated Parmesan when it comes time to serve. ~Elise

  58. Isobel

    Can pesto sauce be processed in a hot water bath?

    If so for how long?

    Pesto isn’t cooked, so no, processing in a hot water bath wouldn’t work. And if it were cooked, since it is low acid, you would need to pressure can it, a water bath wouldn’t be sufficient to kill potential botulism bacteria. ~Elise

  59. Laurel

    Storing pesto – the first time I ever had home made pesto, it came from my stepdaughter at Christmas time, frozen in a Seal-a-Meal bag. It was so incredibly awesome that the next summer, I grew my own basil, bought a Seal-a-Meal machine, made pesto and froze it. It was wonderful. The Seal-a-Meal is a machine that vacuum seals the plastic bags you put the pesto in, and it never turns brown. You can buy the bags or just the material the bags are made of to make custom size bags. There are different brands of this machine, probably all equally as good. I don’t buy the brand name bags, which can be expensive – I buy no-name bags at By-Mart or Costco. I use the machine for all kinds of food storage, but it was worth the purchase just to be able to have wonderfully fresh, not-brown, pesto at any time of year! I also make my pesto with the parmesan-reggiano cheese and freeze it with the cheese and garlic in it, it comes out fine and delicious! I’m off to harvest my basil and make a bunch of different-sized bags of pesto to freeze now for the winter, and of course some will not end up frozen but enjoyed now.

  60. JB

    My mother made the same traditional recipe and I still make lots of it every summer and freeze it for the winter. We love it with fish, pasta, and on cheese & tomato sandwiches.

    She made another version of pesto with fresh mint leaves and pine nuts to go with lamb. I don’t eat meat, but everyone seemed to love it.

    She also made another version with parsley and walnuts.

    She froze hers with the cheese in it, in little plastic containers, 4 or 6 to a freezer baggie, and it was fine.

  61. K Wikstrom

    I am new to the pesto world, I have bushels of basil. I have always wanted to make pesto, however beacuse of the size of our garden I do not have extra freezer space and would like to can it. What is the process for that? Is it as good? Any advice would be very much appreciated! Thank you in advance!

    I’m guessing that in order for the pesto to be shelf stable and safe it would have to be cooked and then pressure canned. Haven’t done it myself. ~Elise

  62. Ezra

    I personally found that 3 cloves of garlic was a tad over powering for the ingredient ratio, I had some more basil growing outside and simply added a little more basil, a little more oil and a few roasted pine nuts to solve the problem, and must say, it worked out wonderfully. To make it a little more health conscious I use partial soy milk (or real milk if that’s what you drink) to give it a creamier taste.

  63. nick

    This recipe made our day( dinner). Fresh basil and garlic from the garden. Went perfect with shrimp, whole wheat pasta and tomatoes(also from the garden).

    Thanks you !

  64. lindsay

    When I got a bag of basil in my CSA this week, I knew I had to make pesto. This recipe was divine and easy for a first-time pesto maker. I added a fourth clove of garlic because I love the stuff but hardly needed a grain of salt. I will definitely make this again.

  65. GW

    I freeze mine complete with the cheese in it and haven’t had any trouble. My recipe’s about identical to yours and I’m getting ready to make a big batch this week! :) I like to freeze it flattened out in freezer bags. When I want some, I just break off a piece of the sheet.

  66. Laura Shaffer

    I’m half Italian and have eaten all kinds of pesto. Ya just gotta love em! In an effort to lean out my pestos I now use a good chicken broth and virgin olive oil in equal amounts. Tastes good and I don’t miss the extra calories. You might play around with other broths of your liking too. Have fun with it.

  67. Jo

    You can prevent browning in the fridge or freezer by shocking your basil before making the pesto. This means that you submerge the basil in boiling water with salt and baking soda for a few seconds then put it immediately in an ice bath. This doesn’t change the flavor just keeps it green.

  68. Amy

    Pesto freezes very well without the pine nuts – I add them toasted later when I thaw. My preference is to freeze them in ice cube trays and then remove the cubes and put them in a ziplock. We enjoy pesto all year round!

  69. Roxie

    Sounds great! I’m planning to make this tonight, but I don’t have a food processsor. Can’t I just use a blender? Any advice would help, thanks.

    You can try with a blender, but I don’t know how well it will work. You can also use a mortar and pestle to make pesto. Or just chop everything very finely with a chef’s knife. ~Elise

  70. Dave

    I have had good luck freezing the completed recipe by spooning it into a large (gallon size for me) freezer bag and rolling it flat in the bag to remove all air. I then seal the bag and freeze it as a large, square “pancake.” I can then break off and thaw just as much as I need when required and re-freeze the rest.

    To me, the thawed frozen pesto tastes just as good as the “fresh.”

  71. Jessica

    I wonder if using cupcake papers would be a workable freezing substitute for an ice cube tray? I live with 3 guys and can’t imagine that icy pesto cubes would go over well in the freezer. (Though we’re lucky enough to have an auto-ice maker – maybe they wouldn’t notice!)

    I think that the cupcake papers might stick to the frozen pesto. Of course, once you’ve defrosted them, you’d be fine. ~Elise

  72. forgedcu

    We make pesto every year. Sometimes we make it with lemon or thai basil, and even with garlic scapes. We spoon the finished product, cheese and all, into snack sized baggies. Then we stack those in a bigger baggie and freeze flat. Break off a bit and thaw for 30 seconds or so on low power in the nuker. It tastes great all winter long. We use it to marinade salmon, have it on asparagus, or pizza or crakcers ; )

  73. Bonnie

    Can you add the flowers and seeds on the top of the plant? I’ve cooked with them and still get a pure basil flavor.

    Great question. Once in a while I’ll include some of the flowers. Usually I snip off the flowering tops as the plants grow because once the flowers start to produce seeds the energy of the plant is directed into that, and the leaves don’t taste as good, at least to me. ~Elise

  74. Summer

    I’ve made pesto using this recipe numerous times and it always turns out to be fabulous. I usually use more garlic (about 4 large cloves) and use pecorino romano instead of parmesan. Anyhow, just wanted to say thanks for this delicious recipe! It’s quick, easy, and delicious!

  75. Lisa

    Does anyone have a recommendation for how much pasta works well with this much pesto (1 cup)? Is a pound too much, not enough, just right? Thanks!

    I think the pesto would go well with 1/2 pound of pasta. ~Elise

  76. pat

    I picked , rinsed and refrigerated my basil , now the leaves have a few rust spots on them. Unfortunately, more time went by then I planned. May I still use them for making pesto?

    Basil doesn’t like to be refrigerated, the best way to store it is to 1) do not rinse it, 2) place it in a jar with water, so that the bottom stems are immersed in water (like flowers in a vase), 3) put a thin plastic bag loosely over the top so that the basil doesn’t dry out, and 4) store it on a kitchen counter top. As for making pesto, I suggest discarding the damaged parts and making pesto with any leave parts that are still good. ~Elise

  77. Avocadoinparadise

    Yum! I made this last night in bulk with my end-of-season basil. Left out the cheese and it was really good.

    RE: the pasta amount question above–you can make the amount of pasta you would make for two people, and then add the pesto bit by bit, stirring until it is the amount you prefer. Everyone is different on this.

  78. Nike

    I was wondering if using half olive and half grapeseed oil would help mellow the taste of the extra virgin olive oil that some people find a bit overwhelming, especially here in the midwest. Since folks are adding mint, I am going to try using regular basil with some spicy basil. Having been in the eastern orthodox church for 25 years now, pine nuts are a staple for our diet, especially with the advent fast coming up. I might even try to substitute walnut oil and no cheese served over spaghetti squash with a garnish of roasted pine nuts and garlic and just a sprig or two of parsley. Thanks for sharing. Nike

    Using half grapeseed oil sounds like an excellent idea, as grapeseed oil is just about as flavorless of an oil as you can find. ~Elise

  79. irene

    My husband is prohibited from having cheese and nuts due to stage 4 chronic kidney disease. But he loves pesto. Can we still make it without losing the flavour? Would appreciate any help.

    I would suggest making a chimichurri sauce with basil subbing for the parsley and oregano. You’ll have plenty of flavor. ~Elise

  80. Kristen

    A few years ago, I was making pesto and realized I was out of Parmesan cheese, but I did have some Manchego cheese, so I used it instead. I will never go back! I love the pesto flavor even more with the Manchego. Also, Manchego is excellent finely shredded over pasta with marinara sauce.

  81. Forest

    Just made this and it’s absolutely yummy…. Going to add it to some pasta for dinner a little later this eve.

    Thanks a million.

  82. Charis

    Mmm, this was so good. I made it without nuts because I didn’t have any on hand and served it as fresh pesto over salmon that was sauted in butter and garlic. It was a hit! Thanks!

  83. Sven

    I’ve been making a sauce for a tri tip recipe that I consider a pesto. We use it to dip bread in ,spoon on slices of tri tip, or mix with pasta: fresh oregano/majoram, garlic, olive oil, salt, lemon juice in a food processor.really good! might want a dose of mouthwash later for garlic breath. :)

    Sounds like a chimichurri, or a South American sauce for steak that is often made with parsley and/or oregano. ~Elise

  84. liz

    Just made this and it’s the best pesto I’ve ever had! I used a kind of old bag of already shredded parmesan that was in my refrigerator so I bet it would be even better with good cheese.

    Gonna be tasting the garlic for a while.

  85. molly

    Tip for storing pesto:
    Freeze in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, pop out the cubes and then put them in a big freezer bag. You can then easily take out one or two cubes for a meal, thaw and tastes super fresh!

  86. Debbie Cattell

    I did not have pine nuts in the house, so I used salted pistachios. It turned out so good (and I did not to add any extra salt.)

  87. Alina Ever

    Try it with toasted pecans — we’ve been doing it this way a while & prefer the taste — plus the pecans are more regional/fresh in the southeast where we live.

  88. Bonanza Jellybean

    We added some feta to the recipe and no salt. It made it really smooth and creamy, and the feta added just the right amount of saltiness on its own. With sweet basil that we’re growing, it turned out really well.

  89. Dorothy Alansin

    This had way too much cheese! When my friend and I made it, all we could taste was cheese. A little bit of basil, but cheese, cheese, and way more cheese! Did I mention that there was cheese? I think I’ve made my point.

    Recipes are just guidelines. If you think it has too much cheese for your taste, reduce the cheese next time, or just add more basil. ~Elise

  90. karen

    If anybody is looking for a way to use their basil without having to make pesto, try this. I have picked my basil (and parsley), rinsed it well, dried it well, placed in ziploc bags, squeezed out air and placed in freezer. I have it to use all winter. When I need some I just reach in the bag and take what I want. Works well.

  91. Sara

    I recently made a TON of pesto, cheese included, and froze it, planning to use it all winter. I’ve read here that you advise cooks not to add cheese prior to freezing. Why is that specifically? Will it spoil or taste bad if the cheese is frozen? Or is it just that you’ve found that the cheese doesn’t taste quite as good when frozen, but but not bad or spoiled?

    Parmesan cheese doesn’t taste as good after it has been frozen. ~Elise

  92. Mary Peterson

    Made a double batch without the cheese and froze in small plastic containers (added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice). Used toasted walnuts. Smelled delish!!. I’ll add the freshly grated parmesand or romano cheese when I use it during the winter months. Or I may try
    adding some feta or manchego as suggested by others. I also like to ideal of using the pesto for other dishes besides pasta. It’s amazing how creative you can get when you think outside the bun. I know I’ll be glad I made and froze the pesto when those cold winter winds blow in after Christmas. I made a batch a few months ago with the cheese in it and froze. I’m anxious to see if the cheese gummed up the pesto or not from being frozen. Either way it’ll be better than the stuff they sell in the grocery store

  93. Edward

    There were a few questions and comments about pesto darkening or turning black. This is oxidation occuring, similar to an apple turning brown. This is best prevented by adding a little lemon or orange juice and making sure it is well mixed in. Guten Appetit!!

  94. demitri

    I added peanuts instead and the turn out was fabulous, I find walnuts a bit bitter, you can all try with peanuts I def recommend it.
    Cyprus with love

  95. Karen

    After reading all of the comments, I thought I had the mystery of the brown pesto solved. Made the pesto, added a tsp of fresh lemon juice, stored with plastic wrap touching the top. Nice bright green pesto. Added to hot cooked pasta, called DH to dinner. Minutes later, brown pesto pasta! Tasted good, looked BAD. Should I only use pesto on cold or room temp pasta?

    The things that will make green vegetables (or herbs like basil) turn brown are oxidation, heat, and acid. When you add an acid like lemon juice to the basil and then heat it by mixing it in with hot pasta, your pesto may turn brown. Even without the lemon juice it may turn brown, but as I recall the acid along with the “cooked” green will turn the green brown. The best way to store the pesto without browning is to cover it with a layer of olive oil and/or plastic wrap so that the oxygen from the air never touches the basil. ~Elise

  96. Enoch Kelly

    not sure how i got hooked on to the taste of persto, but voila, i did and living in India, i just couldnt find fresh pesto anywhere. Even if i did, by chance, it was oh so expensive.

    Thanks a ton for this receipe, now i make my own pesto without chesse and my friends love the way it blends well with farfelli.

    thanks a ton once again :) love you for this receipe :)

    PS: for those who are calorie-concious, you could try using low-fat processed cheese. Flavor is slightly dull but the lemon juice and the pepper with salt brings it all out. Try roasted and salted almonds when using low fat cheese.

  97. Jeff Evans, Denver, CO

    My wife has been making a shrimp and pesto pasta dish for me on special occasions. She has always used the “store bought” pesto sauce. Today, she had to go in to work so I thought I would surprize her with the same dish but we already had all the ingredients right here in our kitchen. What I didn’t have was a recipe. I found yours online and made it exactly as you wrote it and it turned out even better than what we are use to. Thanks a million!

  98. Erika Lantry

    I discovered pesto only recently and am totally addicted to the taste. Buying it is expensive, and I appreciate the info provided in this publication on how to make my own, complete with freeaing instructions.
    I like it best on German Bauern Brot with butter and pesto. A delicious pesto sandwich.

  99. Melissa

    This may sound crazy, but could you substitute toasted sunflower seeds for the nuts? May give a little nutty flavor and crunch? (severe tree nut allergy and peanuts are also not allowed)

    It’s worth a try. ~Elise

  100. Gary

    OH MY GAWD, this was really good. I did take two recommendations from previous commentors. I added balsamic vinegar to the arugula (actually my store had NO arugula so I used watercress. The peppery nature of watercress was excellent). I also used my GF sandwich machine to press the sandwiches. MMMMM.
    I made my own pesto. I watch my fat so when I make pesto, I substitute water for some of the oil. The way I do it is, make the pesto in the blender For this recipe I used the following and still had more pesto let over:•1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
    2 Tblspns extra virgin olive oil
    1/6 cup pine nuts or walnuts (I mixed both)
    3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    BLEND, then add water (I add water and less oil, I added water a little at a time so as not to be overly watery)
    Let it sit the the fridge and it becomes thick. MMMMMM and less fat.

  101. Linda Williams

    I sometime subtitute Cilantro for the basil and pecans for the pine nuts/walnuts. I call this combination Texas Pesto.

  102. lovee

    Hi can we make pesto with frozen basil. if yes how? thnx

    Good question, no idea. If anyone reading this has made pesto with frozen basil, please chime in. ~Elise

  103. Susan

    Can you use fruit fresh or crushed vitamin C tablets to avoid browning?

    Interesting idea, I haven’t tried it. If you do, please let us know if it works. ~Elise

  104. Maria

    I love pesto! I usually make a traditional pesto, although in the last few years I have subbed walnuts due to an awful case of pine-mouth coupled with the rising cost of pignolias– it just doesn’t seem worth it on either end.

    I have also used sunflower seeds & pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) in place of pigniolas– both worked well, although the sunflower seeds muddle the brilliant green pesto color. Nonetheless, both are good nut-free options.

    For a different twist- a recipe I got out of the New Thai Cuisine cookbook– roughly, as from memory: Equal part mixed herbs (basil, mint & cilantro) combined with an equal part spinach, a few garlic cloves, fresh ginger, a serrano chile or similar, and a quarter to half part blanched or toasted almonds. Process to a paste, using canola, rapeseed or other high-heat oil. To use it: heat a can of coconut milk on stove till boiling, add a # of prawns (shell-on or shell off), simmer till prawns turn pink, cu heat, & stir in 1/2 cup Thai pesto + 1-2 tsp fish sauce. Serve with lime wedges over rice. I call it Thaitailian and it is just delicious. It also freezes exceptionally well.. making it a great Pantry One-Hit Wonder.(If you consider frozen shrimp/prawns a pantry staple).

    I also love my pesto slathered on a pizza or as a dollop in soup.

    Love the sound of it, thanks for the suggestion! ~Elise

  105. The Driggers

    My wife and I just made our first batch of Thai basil, basil, oregano, and chive pesto using similar recipes as those above. We took a Bolillo bun, slapped a few beer brats off the grill into the buns, slathered our pesto generously over the beer brats filling the bun…. And… WOW! A very delightful and flavorful tastebud pleaser was born! Hope you try one as well…… They are awesome!

  106. bk

    has anyone made pesto with boxwood basil. if so, do you have to trim off every little leaf of can you chop including some stem. does it do the same job in the pesto?

  107. Maria

    Oh my goodness! I just made this pesto, literally 5 minutes ago with some basil from our garden. This could quite possibly be the most delicious thing I’ve ever made! I used almonds because they were the only nuts I had on hand. Good enough to eat with a spoon…I can’t wait for the pasta pot to start boiling. YUM! Thank you!!!

  108. Pat

    I finely chop my basil and blend with enough oil to make a heavy paste. Then I put it in a zip lock bag, removing all the air. Flatten the bag as much as possible and freeze flat. Then when you need basil, just break off a piece as large as needed for recipe. Keeps in freezer for a year, and quantity is determined by how much yu break off, not as in an ice cube tray.
    Works great!!!

  109. Patrick

    I rescued my end-of-season Basil with this recipe too. It was very good.

    I only had Walnuts on hand, so I used the Walnuts. I think I prefer their flavor over pine nuts anyway (BTW avoid Chinese Pine Nuts). I might try Black Walnuts sometime too.

    I love Olive Oil, but I think this is a little too much, except for perhaps, dipping. In my second batch I used less Olive Oil. That second batch was a little stiff, but I loosened it with a little of the pasta water. I sauced the tortellini in the pan (best way to sauce pasta).

    I used a mortar and pestle, but I think hand chopping will be even better, and I will try that next time.

    Hand chopping really allows you to taste each of the individual flavors, a hallmark of delicious dishes I think.

  110. sandi sears

    I had tried this recipe last month and found the pesto (using walnuts) a bit bitter. I toasted the walnuts this time and it is delicious. Next time I will try it with almonds. I also used a tad bit less oil than it calls for.

  111. Skylar B.

    I used my harvested basil for this recipe. Oh my goodness it is delicious! Though, I do suggest around 1/2 tsp of salt & 1/4 tsp of fresh ground pepper. With such a vague suggestion of written for the recipe new cooks will be discouraged according to under or over use of salt & pepper.

  112. RoseBudd

    for those who doesn’t have a food processor, i had used a blender, but instead of the blender jar, i used a mason jar. the mason jar screwed onto the screw thingy that held the blades for the blender jar, and worked very well. then i got my first food processor, a garbage pick with half a blade. after a good scrubbing it worked great with a little extra chopping. i now have a top of the line one with all the attachments!!! good luck all!!

    Yes, we’ve written about how to use a mason jar with a blender. So convenient! ~Elise

  113. Sahar

    I am from jordan , we have basil here also , but we r using it little in our food , i tried to make pesto which my children likes too much ( we brought from rome ) , the recipe is excellent , i used 1/2 pine seeds and 1/2 wallnuts …. Thank u ….

  114. Marguerite

    Do you know why it is traditional to include nuts in basil pesto. I am very curious why this became a part of the recipe.
    Marguerite

    No idea. You can easily make pesto without nuts. I think it tastes better with them. ~Elise

  115. Susan

    On freezing pesto — freeze a batch with cheese and one without, and you will never freeze it with cheese again. The taste of the cheese really seems to degrade in the freezer. Add it after you defrost it!

    If you freeze it without cheese, it will keep for a very long time (more than a year). I also tend to use gobs of olive oil — I leave a layer floating on top. Mine seems to stay nice and green.

  116. Donna

    If you want a really outstanding pesto, substitute macadamia nuts for the pine nuts and macadamia oil for the olive oil. This is what we do in Hawaii.

  117. TriadWarfare

    Can I use almonds instead of Pine Nuts/Walnuts? Definitely peanuts is out of the question but those nuts are not very common here in our country and it’s very hard to find and very expensive. The almond is much readily available here (although a bit expensive)

    You can try using almonds. Let us know how it turns out for you! ~Elise

  118. Gordon

    Question could I use coconut oil instead of olive oil or would it taste weird?

    I’m guessing it would taste really weird. But if you make it, let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  119. karen

    I lightly toast the garlic cloves I use in pesto as well as toasting the pignola nuts. I have also mixed marcona almonds and pignola nuts. I have seen it suggested that you add a little of the water you cook your pasta in (like 1/4 cup) to your pesto prior to tossing it on your pasta to spread it out a little and distribute the flavor more evenly. You could add a tablespoon at a time to avoid getting your dish too runny. Also, if you don’t have a blender or food processor, the actual traditional pasta was made by grinding everything using a mortar and pestle. Takes about 15 minutes. Nice recipe!