If you've ever had fresh basil in your garden, then you know it grows faster than you can use it all! My go-to recipe for using up extra basil is homemade fresh pesto! This fresh basil pesto only requires a handful of simple ingredients and comes together in a food processor just 5 minutes!
Why You'll Love This Classic Pesto!
This simple basil pesto is an incredibly versatile sauce that tastes great on Italian favorites like pasta and pizza, but also makes a delicious garnish for any dish!
It's quick, easy and requires minimal ingredients and clean-up!
More fun ways to use this homemade pesto genovese include:
- Spread on roasted chicken and top with cheese.
- Use as a dip for crusty bread or veggies.
- Make a caprese style sandwich with pesto!
- My favorite pesto risotto with toasted pine nuts.
- Mix into this creamy spinach orzo.
- Make this heirloom tomato galette!
- Drizzle on top of sweet corn gazpacho.
Fresh Pesto Ingredients
This fresh basil pesto only uses 6 simple ingredients (plus salt) and can easily be modified to fit any dietary restrictions!
- Basil - Fresh, sweet basil is best for making pesto!
- Olive Oil - Make sure you use high quality, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor!
- Garlic - I am a big garlic lover, so this pesto packs a punch! So if you prefer a milder flavor just reduce the garlic to 1 clove or leave it out entirely.
- Pine Nuts - If you don’t like pine nuts, you can substitute walnuts, almonds, or pistachios in this pesto for a similar flavor and texture! Or just leave them out entirely if you have a nut allergy!
- Parmesan Cheese - You can substitute your favorite hard Italian cheese. I always use Pecorino Romano if I have it on hand.
- Lemon Juice - You need just a little bit of fresh lemon juice to add some brightness to the pesto!
The complete list of ingredients and amounts is located in the recipe card below.
How to Make Pesto
Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse until everything is finely chopped and resembles a thick paste.
If you prefer a thinner pesto, add in more olive oil 1 teaspoon at a time until your desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired!
That's it!! In just 5 minutes you have the most delicious fresh basil pesto sauce!
Tips for the Best Pesto!
This basil pesto has a bright, fresh flavor so it's best eaten raw or added at the very end of cooking (for example, toss with cooked pasta just prior to serving).
Pesto will naturally lose its vibrant color overtime, so if you want to keep it bright green you can blanch the basil prior to blending!
To blanch the basil, fill a large bowl with cold water and several ice cubes and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add the basil leaves and blanch for a quick 15 seconds!
Immediately remove the leaves from the boiling water and place in the ice water bath. After a about 10 seconds, remove and squeeze out any excess water, then pat dry.
You can store this fresh pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week! Be sure to drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top before storing to help keep it from turning brown.
Absolutely!! Just swap out the parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast! You may want to reduce the nutritional yeast to ¼ cup since it has a more concentrated flavor than parmesan.
Yes! I recommend portioning small amounts of the pesto into ice cube trays to freeze. Then remove and store in a freezer bag. Thaw individual pesto cubes at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you want to use it.
Don't worry, this is completely normal! The basil oxidizes and loses color the longer it's exposed to air, but it has not effect on the flavor. But if the color is important to you, see my tips on blanching the basil first to keep it bright green! Also be sure to store the pesto with a little oil drizzled on top to keep the air away.
Tips for Success!
For best results I always recommend using weight measurements (especially when baking) because it's the most accurate. Kitchen scales are super affordable and also reduce the number of dishes you have to do! However, all my recipes also include US customary measurements for convince. Use this chart to convert measurements for common ingredients!
Substitutions: In all my recipes, I've included substitutions that I know will work, but I cannot guarantee results if you substitute ingredients that I have not recommended. [For example, granulated sugar and honey are indeed both sweeteners but they have very different properties so they can not always be swapped 1:1. Using honey in a cookie recipe that calls for granulated sugar will yield a giant mess.] In the recipe card you'll find links to the specific ingredients/brands that I use.
A note on salt: I almost exclusively use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because it's the best all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If you're not using kosher salt, consult this handy guide for a conversion chart! When in doubt, if you're using table salt just reduce the amount by half for baked goods. When cooking, I prefer to under-salt because you can always add more! If you've over-salted, adding a little bit of acid (like lemon juice) can help.
Recipes That Use Fresh Pesto!
If you make this recipe, please leave a star rating at the bottom of the page! This provides helpful feedback to both me and other readers. And if you want more delicious, scratch-made recipes you can subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook!
Homemade Fresh Basil Pesto
- Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse until everything is finely chopped and resembles a thick paste.
- If you prefer a thinner pesto, add in more olive oil 1 teaspoon at a time until your desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired!
- That's it!! In just 5 minutes you have the most delicious fresh basil pesto sauce!
- You can store this pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week! Be sure to drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top before storing to help keep it from turning brown.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.