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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad – The BEST summer pasta salad.
- Shrimp Pesto Flatbread – The arugula on top should not be skipped!
- Italian Minestrone Soup with Pesto – My current favorite soup recipe.
- Tomato Galette – I love using fresh tomatoes on this one too!
- Pesto Vegetable Pasta – This is an old one and is packed full of healthy veggies.
- BLT Sandwich with Pesto Sauce – Just a classic recipe made better with pesto!
- Shrimp Pesto Pasta – A simple pasta
- Shrimp Pesto Rice Bowls – You can make the shrimp indoors on a grill pan for a time saver.
- Cheesy Pesto Party Bread – It doesn’t get much better than bread, cheese, and pesto sauce!
- Skillet Pesto Tomato Pizza – The “favorite pizza topping” recipe at our home.
Kitchen Tools Used: (affiliate links)
Homeamde Basil Pesto Sauce
- 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
- 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.