Homemade Pesto

To me, pesto used to be one of those things that sounded mysterious and difficult to make.  However, I found that pesto is actually super easy…plus, it is very delicious and versatile.   Homemade pesto is also a great way to use up extra basil you don’t want to waste.  I usually keep a box of pine nuts or walnuts in my pantry for just that occasion.

Now,”traditionalists” would say it’s not “real” pesto unless it is made with a mortar and pestle, but I’m surely no traditionalist and my food processor does a fine job.  Just stick all the ingredients in, shut and pulse.  Easy, right?  Try not to puree the pesto to an entirely smooth consistency.  Instead, try to keep it coarse…as though it was made with the mortar and pestle.  Sneaky, I know.  Though, if you like it smooth, go right ahead!

Pesto has its use in many dishes.  I spread it on my turkey, pesto and cheddar panini, use it as a sauce on my pesto and goat cheese pizza, combine it with freshly cooked pasta and add a few tablespoons to my tomato sauce for a good basil kick, just to name a few.   It also keeps for quite a while in the fridge and can be frozen.

For storage in your fridge, just make sure there is a decent layer of oil on the surface (it will surface on its own).  If there’s isn’t enough after a while, you can add a little to help it out.  This will help it keep for a greater period of time…though, as tasty as it is, it’s bound to get used up long before it would ever go bad!

Homemade Pesto

2 1/2 oz fresh basil

1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2-4 cloves garlic (depending on how strong of a garlic taste you like)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to your desired consistency.  You can also pulse the garlic and pine nuts together before the other ingredients to break them down a little bit more.




Stay up to date with ASPC and get a free copy of my ebook Favorite Recipes From A Sweet Pea Chef
About the author: My name is Lacey and I’m so glad you’re here. I am a foodie, a photographer, a chef, and a project manager at a local tech start-up in Austin. But, most importantly, I am the mother of three adorable little kiddos (Jordan, Savannah and Hunter) and am madly in love with and married to my high school sweetheart, Dustin.

17 comments… add one

  1. Elaine @ Cookware Help May 18, 2010, 3:23 am

    Yum! This is the exact pesto recipe that I usually make. But just recently, someone gave me a tip to try using roasted pine nuts. I normally just used 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 delectable smell, and my pesto tasted amazing! I highly recommend it, as it only takes a minute to toast them dry in a frying pan. :)

    1. Sweet Pea Chef May 18, 2010, 1:32 pm

      Elaine, thanks for that tip! I will have to try that next time. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Emi May 19, 2010, 10:30 am

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE pesto, and I am definitely going to have to try your recipe this weekend. Also, Love your blog, I always look forward to seeing what you cook up next

    1. Sweet Pea Chef May 19, 2010, 9:11 pm

      Emi, thanks SO much for your kind words…that makes me so happy :) Let me know how your pesto turns out this weekend!

  3. Anna Claire August 19, 2011, 7:37 am

    I love pesto! I like to add a little citrus to mine…either a squeeze of a lemon or even an orange! I think it really lightens it up!

    love your blog…just discovered it :)

    1. lacey - a sweet pea chef August 19, 2011, 9:52 am

      Hi Anna (and welcome!). Thanks for the tip on adding citrus! Would have never thought of that.

  4. Laura August 23, 2011, 12:07 pm

    Just wondering, do you have a basic measurement for about how many cups 2 1/2 ounces of fresh basil would be once it was all chopped up? I don’t have a way to determine how many ounces I’d have, but I’m definitely wanting to try this.

    1. lacey - a sweet pea chef August 24, 2011, 10:45 pm

      Hi Laura. Very good question! Unfortunately, I don’t know the exact measurement (but I will pay attention next time I make pesto!), However, I would estimate it is between 3-5 cups if that helps you. I typically buy fresh basil in a 3-oz. container. I hope that helps.

  5. Mary Ellen July 5, 2012, 5:54 pm

    Can you use garlic that is already chopped or is it better to use the fresh cloves?

    1. lacey - a sweet pea chef July 7, 2012, 11:21 pm

      Hi Mary Ellen!

      You can definitely use already-chopped garlic, but I do find a more potent, flavorful addition from freshly chopped garlic. Personal preference though — so you should be fine! :)

  6. Debora Cadene July 22, 2012, 8:05 am

    Just found your site. I was wondering if you can freeze the pesto once it has been made?

    1. lacey - a sweet pea chef July 23, 2012, 2:24 pm

      Hi Debora! You know, I’ve never tried freezing my pesto, but I did some research for you and found it can freeze up to 3-6 months. If you intend to freeze the pesto, leave out the parmesan and add it when you thaw and use the pesto because cheese doesn’t tend to freeze well. Good luck!

  7. melissa August 25, 2012, 12:45 pm

    This sounds delicious! I have been growing my own Basil and thought that giving homemade pesto would be a great gifts. Will this recipe can well or would it be better to give it fresh? Thank you!

    1. lacey - a sweet pea chef August 26, 2012, 12:49 pm

      You know, I’ve never canned this recipe, but I’d bet it’ll turn out just fine. What a fabulous gift :)

  8. Linda September 14, 2012, 4:22 pm

    As one who cans ALL THE TIME, I would advise against canning pesto… it’s not acidic enough, and has a higher risk of growing yucky things. Better to freeze it or give it as a fresh gift. The reason you can purchase it on the shelf at the store is because it has lots (and I do mean lots) of extra stuff added that you really don’t want to add to your homemade pesto. It does, however, make a fantastic gift when given fresh with some pasta in a strainer!

  9. BreAnne August 15, 2013, 4:38 pm

    ok, i’ve just started getting in the kitchen for real in the past 6 months. I’ve learned a lot just by watching the chefs at the fine dining restaurant where i bartend. I try a lot of things and fail at a lot of things. I am so thrilled I found your blog! I can definitely see how it will really help me.



Leave a Reply