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Homemade basil pesto in a round Weck mason jar with a silver spoon.

Basil Pesto Recipe

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5 from 28 reviews


Homemade pesto sauce is quick and easy to make!  All you need is a food processor and a few fresh healthy ingredients.


  • 2 cups fresh basil (leaves, no stems), firmly packed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts), toasted if desired
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano (or Parmesan cheese)
  • Himalayan salt (or sea salt), to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • OPTIONAL: A light squeeze of fresh lemon juice


  1. Add basil, garlic and pine nuts to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are fully combined and the basil is very finely minced. Halfway-through, stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  2. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. This is an important part of the emulsification process! Don’t cut corners on this step. Scrape down the bowl again, if needed.
  3. Add grated cheese to the pesto sauce. Pulse very briefly, until just combined. Do not over-process. The pesto should maintain a bit of nice texture!
  4. Transfer pesto to a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste!



  • ROAST THE NUTS! For an added deep rustic flavor roast the pine nuts in the oven or in a skillet. Keep a close eye on them, because they can easily scorch or burn. Be sure to cool them all the way down before beginning this recipe. Otherwise they’ll loose their texture and become a gummy paste!
  • A SUBSTITUTE FOR PINE NUTS: If the price of these nuts are not in your budget, you can use chopped walnuts, pecans, cashews or almonds instead!
  • NOT ENOUGH BASIL ON HAND? If your basil plant can’t spare enough leaves for 2 packed cups, don’t fret! Use one cup basil leaves plus one cup: baby spinach leaves, kale (bitter), arugula (spicy), cilantro (citrus), or parsley (mild). Avoid using more than one add-in with the basil. A mash up of competing flavors is not desirable.
  • RINSE BASIL IN COLD WATER: When prepping the basil leaves, it’s important to rinse them in cold water. Warm or hot water will make the leaves limp. Make sure to fully dry the basil leaves before starting this recipe!
  • ADD IN OLIVE OIL WITH THE MACHINE RUNNING: Adding the oil into the mixture while the machine is running helps the pesto sauce properly emulsify (fully combine). This is an important step in the recipe! We want the mixture to be stable so the ingredients won’t separate later.
  • GENERAL: This recipe yields 1 cup of pesto sauce. When tossed with 1 pound of pasta, this recipe is enough for 4 servings.
  • Prep Time: 4 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 Minutes
  • Category: Sauces, Pasta
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Italian