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This Easy Homemade Pesto will make you say goodbye to the store bought version forever. Just a handful of ingredients is all you need for this toasty, fresh, herbaceous pesto!
Easy Homemade Pesto
If you’ve ever wanted to make your own pesto but are scared of it, don’t be because nothing could be easier! The great thing about this sauce is that it’s so versatile, you can literally use any greens you have; basil, arugula, cilantro, parsley, truly whatever your heart desires. I like to play around with different nuts like walnuts or pecans, almonds, pistachios or even cashews.
At the end of the day we’re just going for an all purpose condiment that is both toasty and warm, while also bursting with herb-y freshness and lots of garlic tang!
What Is Pesto?
Pesto is an Italian sauce, one that doesn’t require hours of simmering or a laundry list of ingredients. A basic traditional pesto uses crushed garlic, pine nuts, basil, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. That’s it – seriously.
But the magic is in the details and magic is exactly what you’ll have on hand once this recipe is complete. Usually served on pasta, this sauce has so many uses and I’ve included my favorite recipes that include it at the bottom of the page, so scroll on!
Ingredients In Homemade Pesto
- Pine nuts – Toasted pine nuts are the key to making this sauce truly spectacular. Whether you opt for walnuts, pistachios, cashews, etc, be sure to toast them before hand.
- Basil – This recipe is perfect for using up that fresh basil before it begins to go brown. Thai basil can be substituted if need be but keep in mind it will give the sauce a sweeter, licorice flavor. Whatever herb you choose be sure it is fresh, otherwise the sauce won’t come together.
- Parmesan cheese – A hard, sharp cheese is ideal for this recipe. If you have no Parmesan on hand, Pecorino is a fine substitute.
- Olive oil – Any will do but if I have a bottle of the nice stuff laying around I like to use a bit of that.
- Garlic – Be sure to use fresh cloves, we want these to puree to a creamy consistency.
- Salt & pepper – To taste.
How To Make Easy Homemade Pesto
For detailed instructions and measurements, refer to my printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Toast the nuts: Toast the pine nuts dry in a small skillet for 2 – 3 minutes. Be mindful that pine nuts tend to burn easily so keep an eye on them, we just want a nice brown color on them.
- Create the pesto: Add the ingredients to a food processor and blend together, pulsing in 5 – 10 second bursts till everything is pretty smooth and well incorporated. If you find the sauce is dry add more olive oil, just a tbsp at a time. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Storing Homemade Pesto
Store in an airtight container for 5 – 7 days in the fridge but don’t be afraid to freeze your creation! It will last beautifully for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Tips For Making The Best Pesto:
- Always wash your greens properly, so give that basil a good rinse with cold water and dry it with a salad spinner or between layers of paper towels.
- Feel free to adjust the garlic in the recipe. I prefer a really garlicky pesto which is why I use 3 cloves, but if you want less garlic start with 1 clove and give it a taste.
- Always toast your pine nuts or whatever nuts you decide to go with. Toasting the nuts will deepen the flavor therefore giving you a tastier sauce.
- I like to fill an ice cube tray with my pesto and place it in the freezer for a quick pop of flavor in my dishes that ready on hand.
Wondering How To Cook With Homemade Pesto? Try These Recipes:
- Pesto Shrimp Asparagus Pasta
- Basil Pesto Risotto
- Easy Sausage Pesto Ring
- Parmesan Pesto Twists
- Chicken Pesto Caprese Pasta
- Roasted Red Pepper And Pecan Pesto Penne
- Arugula And Walnut Pesto Pasta
- Turkey Pesto Panini
Looking for more recipes? Follow on...
Easy Homemade Pesto
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 2 oz basil fresh, about 2 cups packed
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- ¼ tsp salt or to taste
- ¼ tsp pepper or to taste
- Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet for 2 to 3 minutes, watching them carefully as they have a tendency to burn easily.
- Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend everything together, pulsing in 5 to 10 second bursts. Continue blending until the texture is pretty smooth. If you find that the pesto is too dry and are having trouble blending it add a couple tbsp of water, or a bit more olive oil.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.
- Recipe yields abut 1 1/2 cups.
- Why toast the pine nuts: I strongly recommend toasting the pine nuts as it deepens their flavor and your pesto will taste that much better.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or up to 3 months in a freezer.
- Nutritional information is for 1/4 cup of pesto. Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.