Homemade Basil Pesto Sauce

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Homemade Basil Pesto Sauce is the simplest of recipes, combining fresh basil with freshly shredded parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, fresh garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. This ultimate pesto sauce recipe should be a staple in your kitchen, as it is in mine! 

Try this Spinach Walnut Pesto Sauce next!

A measuring cup of homemade basil pesto sauce.

The BEST Pesto Sauce

My food processor has been getting a serious workout this summer, when basil is abundant and oh so delicious. Thanks to our large pot of fresh basil along with regular pruning, we’ve had basil popping’ big time.

I’d previously picked up basil at a farmer’s market or at our local grocery stores, but there is no comparison to growing it yourself.

Benefits of Growing your own Basil:

  • CHEAPER – Store-bought basil is much more costly than growing your own, even taking into account the cost of the plants. It takes quite a bit of fresh basil for pesto sauce and you can continue trimming your basil and then watching it replenish.
  • FRESHER – I find that grocery store basil is often bruised and can’t be used. It’s best to trim your plant and immediately make the pesto sauce.
  • MORE AVAILABLE – Isn’t it handy to have your own herbs? I love being able to trim a few leaves of basil for various Italian dishes – or fresh cilantro, thyme, and mint for other recipes too!
A jar of the homemade pesto sauce with a tablespoon.

Ingredients needed for Homemade Basil Pesto Sauce:

  • Fresh Basil Leaves – If you are lucky enough to have your own basil plants, use that! I’ve got a large pot of basil that I’ve been regularly pruning and using for pesto!
  • Parmesan Cheese – Buy a wedge of parmesan and freshly grate it. NONE of that powdered stuff!
  • Pine Nuts – These are pricy, but worth it.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic cloves are best! Don’t use powder as a substitute.
  • Olive Oil – This is what makes it nice and creamy.
  • Salt and Pepper – Season according to taste.

How to make Homemade Basil Pesto Sauce:

This sauce will only take a few minutes out of your day. You’ll be VERY happy you have it in your refrigerator for all your pesto needs.

Prep 1
Clean the basil. If you are picking fresh basil, make sure you rinse it under cold water and then pat dry with a clean towel (or paper towel).

A colander of fresh basil leaves.

Step 2
Toast the nuts. Toast the pine nuts on the stove top, until fragrant and slightly brown. Remove to cool slightly.

Step 3
Shred parmesan cheese. Use a box grater to freshly shred some parmesan cheese.

Step 4
Combine. Combine the fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and garlic cloves in a food processor.

Step 5
Process. Pulse for several seconds until the ingredients are ground up. Then remove the plunger on top, and drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube until the sauce is nice and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

A food processor filled with fresh pesto sauce.

Step 6
Store. Store pesto sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.

FAQ

What can you substitute for Basil Pesto?

You can definitely substitute different greens for the basil and different nuts for the pine nuts. Try spinach, arugula, parsley, or kale – instead of basil leaves. And try walnuts, pecans, or almonds for the pine nuts. The taste will definitely be different but it’s fun to play around with different flavor combinations.

Is Basil Pesto healthy?

All of the ingredients in this basil pesto recipe have health benefits. The olive oil and pine nuts are higher in calories, however, but are a great source of healthy fats.

Can you freeze pesto sauce?

Most definitely yes – you can freeze pesto sauce. I occasionally make a double batch, and freeze portions so I have it on hand for various recipes.

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Delicious Pesto Recipes

Pesto has been all the rage at our house over the past years. I’ve made this recipe SO many times. The following recipes use my homemade pesto sauce, and can be found on the blog via the links below.

Kitchen Tools Used: (affiliate links)

xoxo ~Sue

A measuring cup of homemade pesto.

Homeamde Basil Pesto Sauce

Homemade Basil Pesto Sauce is the simplest of recipes, combining fresh basil with parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, fresh garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. This ultimate pesto sauce recipe should be a staple in your kitchen as it is in mine! 
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 1/4 cup servings
Calories: 373kcal
Author: Sue Ringsdorf

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste

Instructions

  • Clean the basil. If you are picking fresh basil, make sure you rinse it under cold water and then pat dry with a clean towel (or paper towel).
  • Toast the nuts. Toast the pine nuts on the stove top, until fragrant and slightly brown. Remove to cool slightly.
  • Shred parmesan cheese. Use a box grater to freshly shred some parmesan cheese.
  • Combine. Combine the fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and garlic cloves in a food processor.
  • Process. Pulse for several seconds until the ingredients are ground up. Then remove the plunger on top, and drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube until the sauce is nice and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Store. Store pesto sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.

Notes

Storing – This pesto sauce stays fresh in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Freezing – You can freeze pesto sauce. I occasionally make a double batch, and freeze portions so I have it on hand for various recipes.
** You may need to add a bit more olive oil to the sauce (to loosen it up) after it is refrigerated or frozen.

Nutrition

Calories: 373kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 256mg | Potassium: 116mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 777IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 210mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @Suebeehomemaker or tag #suebeehomemaker!

7 Comments

  1. Cathy Hanson says:

    This was so easy to make! I doubled the recipe so we could have a stash in the freezer! I am excited to try it in both your Pesto Vegetable Pasta and BLT Sandwich with Pesto Sauce! Btw, your food photos are gorgeous!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Thanks so much Cathy! I’m glad you are enjoying the pesto sauce like we are!

  2. So easy and delicious! So much better than store bought. Can’t wait for my garden basil to fill out – I’ll be making this all summer!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Hi Danalea! I’m so glad you enjoyed the pesto. It’s on constant repeat here because my basil just keeps growing! 🙂

  3. Anna | Yes, Little Hummingbird? says:

    I swear I can never get Pesto to come out right for me… I’ll have to give this one a shot. Thank you for writing about it!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Hi Anna! I hope you love it as much as we do. Please let me know! 🙂

  4. This is an incredible recipe and it is simple! Six ingredients and one step instructions. It does not get any better than that.

    Pro Tip – Be careful with cleaning the food processor….. sharp!……

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