How to Make Homemade Pesto

5 from 5 votes
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Homemade Pesto is super easy to make in your own kitchen. This classic basil pesto recipe comes together with fresh herbs and ingredients, and so simple you’ll never reach for store-bought pesto again!

Bowl of fresh Homemade Pesto with pine nuts and olive oil on the side.
Featured with this recipe
  1. Ingredients in Homemade Pesto
  2. Nut Substitutions
  3. A Great Way to Use Your Own Herbs
  4. Variations on Pesto Ingredients
  5. How to Get Pesto to the Desired Consistency
  6. Frequently Asked Questions About Homemade Pesto
  7. More Delicious Pesto Recipes
  8. How To Make Homemade Pesto
  9. Fresh Homemade Pesto Sauce Recipe Recipe

This Fresh Homemade Pesto is really easy to make and tastes delicious on pasta, in salads, or drizzled over chicken and veggies. This recipe features fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese and crisp pine nuts that blend together to make a creamy, nutty, fragrant sauce that beats store-bought sauce any day! If you’ve never tried your hand at making your own pesto, start with this recipe. It’s virtually impossible to mess up, and it tastes absolutely yummy on sandwiches, pizza, pasta dishes and more!

Homemade Pesto in a bowl next to a plate of Pesto Pasta.


Ingredients in Homemade Pesto

To make fresh pesto, start with the freshest ingredients. This is a perfect recipe to use up leafy greens growing in your garden. Here’s what you need:

  • Basil leaves – two cups, packed. Gather herbs from your garden or buy them in the produce section of your grocery store.
  • Minced garlic – start with one or two cloves garlic and dice finely. Or find minced garlic on-line or at the grocery store.
  • Pine nuts – Many recipes call for different nuts because pine nuts can be expensive. I found mine in the bins at Winco and they’re reasonably priced and totally worth it!
  • Parmesan cheese – A quarter cup, plus more if you want to sprinkle on top of the pesto.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil or regular olive oil – I sometimes prefer extra virgin for this recipe so it keeps the flavor light and allows the herbs to shine.
  • Kosher salt – start with a quarter teaspoon salt to start.
  • Black pepper – to taste
Basil, pine nuts garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt in a blender to make Homemade Pesto.

Nut Substitutions

I know some people use different nuts when making pesto because pine nuts are not the cheapest nut. This recipe is the time to splurge a little. The flavor is out of this world! However if you are working around a nut allergy or want a cheaper substitute for the pine nuts, you can use almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or cashews instead.

A Great Way to Use Your Own Herbs

I am especially proud of this batch of pesto because I made it with my own home grown basil from my little Italian herb garden! This was my first time growing herbs and I am absolutely loving it. It’s been much easier than I thought to take care of it. I have been using these fresh herbs in a lot of my cooking and the flavors are so much better than the dried stuff. We made our Rosemary Tri-Tip on Sunday with the fresh rosemary and it was awesome!
Here is a pic of when I first started my little garden and what it looks like now, just one month later. It’s growing like crazy! The funny thing is that I took this picture after I cut down my basil plants to make the pesto (which I used 2 cups of packed leaves), so you can just imagine how big the basil was before this picture! I have had success with thyme, basil, parsley, rosemary and oregano. If you decide to use your homegrown herbs in this, or any of our recipes, leave us a comment and let us know how it tastes!

Italian Herb Garden

Variations on Pesto Ingredients

  • Feel free to swap out greens for different flavors. You can use arugula, cilantro, kale or fresh mint.
  • Instead of regular parmesan, opt for pecorino Romano which has a sharper flavor.
  • Add a little lemon juice or lime juice for extra zing.
  • Add some lemon zest.
Homemade Pesto in a bowl with a wooden spoon next to a bowl of pine nuts and olive oil.

How to Get Pesto to the Desired Consistency

Use a mortar and pestle to grind ingredients to the desired consistency. Or opt for a food processor, add all the ingredients and give it a few extra pulses for a smoother texture.

Frequently Asked Questions About Homemade Pesto

Can I freeze pesto?

Pesto sauce freezes beautifully! Pour sauce into an ice cube tray, then keep in the freezer. You’ll have individual servings of pesto sauce to thaw and use any time!

How can I make vegan pesto?

This recipe is easy to make vegan! Just use a vegan cheese substitute, like tofu. Everything else can stay the same.

How long can pesto last in the fridge?

Since the sauce is made from fresh ingredients, it will only last for about two weeks. Make sure it’s properly covered with plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container.

READ NEXT:35+ Easy Lunch Ideas

Hand holding a wooden spoon full of Homemade Pesto.

More Delicious Pesto Recipes

We love pesto and use it in tons of our recipes! I love it spread on sourdough toast like the picture above but here are a few more recipes you need some delicious ideas:

How To Make Homemade Pesto

Bowl of Homemade Pesto with a spoon. Olive oil, pine nuts and fresh basil on the side.

Fresh Homemade Pesto Sauce Recipe

5 from 5 votes
This Fresh Homemade Basil Pesto Recipe is so simple and delicious! Made with fresh herbs and pine nuts. I am going to be making this all summer long!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Gardening
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10

Equipment

  • Food Processor

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until mostly smooth.
    Basil, pine nuts garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt in a blender to make Homemade Pesto.
  • For sandwiches, we love pesto mayo (2 parts mayo to one part pesto)
    Blender with Homemade Pesto.
  • Pesto can be frozen for later use.
    Hand stirring Homemade Pesto in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

Notes

Recipe Tips

  • Feel free to swap out greens for different flavors. You can use arugula, cilantro, kale or fresh mint.
  • Instead of regular parmesan, opt for pecorino Romano which has a sharper flavor.
  • Add a little lemon juice or lime juice for extra zing.
  • Add some lemon zest.
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Nutrition Information

Calories: 169kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 3gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 143mgPotassium: 55mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 299IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 79mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Emily Walker

Emily lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband, Beau, a physician assistant, and her three incredible children: a son and two daughters. Travel is one of her favorite ways to experience new cultures and cuisines, and she has a love for all things Disney.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’m growing lemon basil I can’t wait to try it with this recipe, Love adding it to pasta. Thanks for sharing.

  2. 5 stars
    I adore growing fresh herbs in my yard, and I love making homemade pesto. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. 5 stars
    Great looking herbs! I recognize the thyme, flat leaf parsley, basil, and rosemary in your planter, but could you identify the 2 herbs on the right side?