Make the perfect homemade pesto with just one bunch of basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil! This recipe takes only 10 minutes but results in a perfect sauce fit for many Italian dinners or snacks.
You only need a handful of fresh ingredients to make this beautiful green sauce at home. One recipe makes about a cup of pesto, which makes anywhere from 4-6 meals depending on how much pesto each recipe calls for.
Quick Tips for Prepping Homemade Pesto
To avoid using a colander, rinse the basil off while the bunch is still intact. Shake the leaves a few times to remove excess water, then pluck the leaves off and place on a kitchen towel to dry off.
For the best flavor and color, I highly recommend toasting the pine nuts! Nut flavor intensifies when toasted, and this recipe is no exception. I’ve made this pesto with raw and toasted pine nuts, and the extra effort of toasting the pine nuts is well worth it. See the color variation between the raw (left) and toasted (right) nut pesto below?
For a more subtle garlic flavor, reduce the garlic cloves to two.
Substitute your favorite hard Italian cheese for the parmesan in a 1:1 substitution for a pesto recipe that’s personalized just for you! I like to mix parmesan and pecorino for a bit stronger cheese flavor.
Placing the garlic in the processor by itself doesn’t result in finely minced pieces, but adding the pine nuts at the same time does! Blitz the garlic and pine nuts together until the mixture resembles a graham cracker crust for the best consistency.
Quick Tips for Storing Homemade Pesto
When exposed to air, basil begins to oxidize. To prevent your pesto from turning brown, some recipes call for blanching the basil in advance—that’s too much effort (and too many dishes!). The simplest way to prevent your pesto from turning brown in the fridge is to top off your jar with olive oil. The olive oil acts as a barrier between the basil and the air, so the pesto shouldn’t brown.
Whenever I use a scoop of pesto, I use the back of my spoon to smooth the pesto into a flat layer. Then I add just enough olive oil to cover the pesto and screw the lid on before placing it back in the fridge.
Because I top off each use with olive oil, I use tall and skinny jars when storing my pesto. I don’t need to add nearly as much oil to a skinny jar as I do to a wide container. That way my pesto isn’t watered down (or rather, “oiled down”) by the time I get to the bottom of the jar.
Additionally, this recipe freezes great. When I by basil, I typically buy two bunches and make a double batch. I store the second jar in my freezer with no problems. Simply take the frozen jar of pesto out the day before you need it and thaw it overnight in the fridge.
Dish Cleanup: Piece of Cake
I rate my recipe cleanups on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 is only a handful of dishes, and 5 is everything including the kitchen sink.
This homemade pesto recipe is a 1. It only requires a food processor or blender, spatula, and a few measuring cups. If you really want to have an easy cleanup, use a kitchen scale to completely eliminate all dishes except for the food processor and spatula. It really doesn’t get easier than this!
- 4 cups basil leaves (about one bunch; 60g)
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup pine nuts (45g)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (40g)
- ⅓ cup olive oil, plus more for storing (80 ml)
- Place garlic, pine nuts, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until minced. Add basil and pulse until the leaves are choppy. Add cheese and olive oil and process until creamy (about one minute).
Toast the pine nuts before use for the best flavor!
Serving Size:3 Tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 235Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 349mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 5g
The nutrition facts are estimated and may vary based on specific ingredients used.
Thanks for trying out this homemade pesto recipe! I’d love to see how it turns out: Take a photo and tag me on Instagram @floralapronblog to share with me, or use the hashtag #floralapronbakes.
Other Recipes You May Enjoy
This pesto goes great with my garlic French bread recipe. Pair it with pasta, a protein, and a side of vegetables for an Italian night in that everyone at the dinner table will love!
Looking for something delicious for dessert within the Italian theme? My tiramisu layer cake is a crowd-pleaser for young and old alike.