Kitchen Basics: How To Make Pesto

Homemade pestoHomemade pesto is super easy to make and can add so much flavor to dishes you probably already make. Fresh store-bought pestos (like the kind you can usually find in the deli section) are fantastic too. Lately I have been getting a large bunch of basil in my CSA deliveries, and more often than not, I turn it into pesto. This is most easily done with a food processor, but a good blender will work too, or you can do it by hand with a mortar and pestle if you're cool like that.

How to make pestoEasy Homemade Pesto, makes about 1/2 cup.

2-3 ounces fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
a generous 1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
juice from 1/2 a lime or lemon
1 clove of garlic (optional, I forgot to buy garlic this week so I left it out)

Puree in food processor. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Pesto recipePesto recipeI love pesto on pasta, spread on sandwiches, mixed in with salads or as the base for a tart or pizza. There are all sorts of ways to enjoy pesto. Enjoy! xo. Emma

  • I literally just made pesto on my blog today! Your photos are much prettier though, I must say! Super easy and delicious indeed!

  • if you have extra and will not be using right away. I spray ice cube trays with non-stick spray and fill with the pesto. put in freezer until frozen. take out of tray and put in freezer container or freezer baggie and freeze for future use. each cube is approximately 1 tablespoon. I will pop 1 or 2 in my spaghetti sauce or add to a pasta dish with some additional olive oil and cheese! Yum! If you want to use as dipping sauce just defrost and add olive oil and dip with some crusty bread.The uses are endless!

  • Great…. now I need to go out and buy cute socks 🙂 Love the pink ones!!

  • I ussually add nuts or almonds (both inclusive) as a substitute for pine nuts, here in Caracas are very expensive. I´ve never added lemon, i´ll try it next time 😀

  • Yuuuuum! Anything with pesto sounds so delicious. Can’t wait to try and make my own 🙂

    xo, Adriana.
    Horses of Ares

  • Wow who would have thought it was so easy. sometimes I associate cooking with difficulty, I guess not hunh? Name That Dress and win $50 with CopperEtiquette

  • Looks delicious, pesto is one of my favorite condiments!

  • ooh! GREAT basic pesto recipe! i like to make mine without cheese for a vegan version, but a tasty pesto is always fabulous 🙂

  • What awesome timing, I was thinking of making pesto from scratch the other day. Can’t wait to try this out! 🙂

  • Yum!!! This is a very easy recipe and so yum! thanks for sharing!!! I made some banana fritters today, check it out. 🙂


  • In Italy we dont put lemon at all,in the original recipe it doesnt feature!
    And we use walnuts if you dont have those you used.
    If you want to do it the sicilian way add same tomato sauce homemade with chunks of tomatoes and ricotta cheese.
    Awsome with spaghetti!


  • I make pesto with walnuts instead of pine nuts. They’re less expensive and there is no real difference in flavor when it’s in pesto.

    Every summer I hit up my local farmer’s market for basil and make one massive batch of pesto that lasts all year. I use ice cube trays to freeze little blocks of pesto, empty the trays, and store the cubes in Ziploc freezer bags. That way, when I’m short on time I can pull a cube or two, throw it in some pasta with veggies or put it on homemade pizza or bruscetta. Delicious!

  • I love pesto! I could eat it all the time. But I hate the red-pesto, yuck!

  • Yummy! I just made pasta today with a store-bought pesto that tasted really bad 🙁 I was thinking “I wish I knew how to make pesto myself”. And then I came over your blog! Thank you 😀

  • Haven’t made a list of my favorite blogs yet but when I do you guys will be on it! I really love everything you post!!! This looks incredible!!


  • Yum! I love homemade pesto! An easy variation if you want vegan pesto is to sub out the parm for nutritional yeast. Keeps it ‘cheesy’ without the cheese. 🙂

  • Me favourite pesto…mmmm….

  • My fav substitute for pine nuts {if you’re allergic like me} is chiaroscuro seeds. They’re soo healthy for you too!

  • scrummy – one of my total faves, you can literally use it on anything! … even though I make it often it never ceases to amaze me how much basil goes into one tiny pot!

  • Pesto saves my basil plants EVERY summer. Its our favorite spread/sauce and you are right: its delish on just about anything!

  • mmmm!!!! like a good italian girl I LOVE PESTO!!! & like a good girl I LOVE YOUR BLOG!! baci!

  • Hi, I’m italian and i love ” il pesto” 🙂 i’m happy to know that it is used, because when people think to the italian food, the know only, pizza, pasta, lasagne …. XDDDDD
    I like pesto with the traditional way, with pasta, but also with potateto is good !!
    Clo :))
    p.s I prefer the version without garlic, because is more delicate 🙂

  • pasta al pesto is one of my favourite ways to eat pasta! this was my try

  • mmm-mmm, you can have pesto on everything, i often has it for breakfast on my sandwiches and it works perfectly! 😀

  • Total pesto addict here. My fav simple dinner is fresh tortellini with ricotta and basil filling, drenched in a sauce of creme fraiche and pesto, topped with a mountain of greated parmesan. And if I’ in the mood for some meat, crispybacon brittled over the whole glorious mess.

  • Yum! If you’re not a fan of basil or want to try something new use sun-dried tomatoes in place of the basil so delicious 🙂

    Becky, K.

  • does it have to be pine nuts? Haven’t tried looking for those in the grocery. THanks for sharing!

  • The original recipe calls for 1/2 Parmesan and 1/2 Romano. I also never heard of pesto made with lemon juice but that might be nice for a change

  • i love pesto!

    The better one i have ever tasted is the one which made the mum of my italian friend Francesca. The pesto from Mamma was the best!

  • Basil pesto is one of my absolute favourite foods. It’s difficult to get pine nuts here ans they’re very expensive when you do find them, so I use walnuts in my basil pesto.

  • Great thing that you show how easy it actually is to make pesto genovese!!

    Just a suggestion: try to add few ice cubes in the food processor… in this way the basil won’t oxidise so easily and the pesto will have a bright green colour 😉

    Waiting for a “pesto 3 ways” post!

  • I absolutely love pesto. Can’t wait to try this.

  • We like it better without nuts personally. I also make a lot when I can find good basil and then freeze it. A new favorite at our house is marinating shrimp in it then cooking them with just a bit of butter. YUM!

  • I have a pesto tip to share! I make a bunch all at once and then freeze it. Here’s the awesome part, though: Freeze individual portions in a muffin pan overnight. The next day, place the pan in a thin layer of warm water and pop out the individual portions. Freeze these in a large freezer bag (use a straw to suck out excess air and prevent freezer burn.) Each “muffin cup” serves two, and it lasts for a few months and tastes delicious the whole time!

    (I have to give credit for this tip to “Wildly Affordable Organic” by Linda Watson, Definitely worth the read!)

  • I love this! Funny enough I just made homemade pesto the other night! So much better than store bought!

    – Sarah

  • Mmm… I love making pesto. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to plant my garden this year because I would normally have lots of basil laying around. I’m glad you mentioned lime juice because I think it gives pesto an interesting kick.


  • I haven’t visited your blog in a while– LOVE the new look! So classy!

    I also love pesto on everything. We have a ton of basil growing in our garden right now so I’ll have to go make a batch soon. However; I have to disagree on the “garlic is optional” statement! 🙂

  • I absolutely love pesto, make it very often with some pasta and is so easy to make. so yummy!

  • Yummy! I’ll have to try this sometime 🙂

    Xo, Kelsey

  • Love pesto. I also like to make it half and half with basil and cilantro.

  • I have never heard of making it with lemon juice but have added lemon zest when I wanted to make a vegan pesto and that was really good.
    I always use walnuts as a sub for pine nuts for cost reasons as a previous commenter had asked.
    Love this new mastering the basics thing 🙂

    Y’all are def. the best bloggers on the internet in my book!

  • Mmm, that looks so good!

  • YUM! Thanks so much for this recipe. Sometimes it’s like you guys can read my mind, because this is exactly what I was thinking of making today! Seriously.

  • For a more traditional pesto genovese, leave out lemon and add some pecorino cheese. so incredibly yummy.

  • Pesto is pretty much my favorite thing ever, and I’ve always wanted to make my own. This looks awesome!

  • Mmm I love pesto!!


  • LOVE Pesto! Never knew what it was made of, and this looks easy!

    -Daisy Nguyen from PS BANANAS fashion blog:

  • Yum, I love pesto! It’s soo delicious! 🙂 x

    Kate {Modette}

  • Pesto is my fav sauce ! That’s the way I usually do it at home !
    Great post !
    XX Luba
    Well living blog

  • Try making it with sunflower seeds, great taste as well as economical and allergy friendly!

  • Thanks so much! This looks so easy even I should be able to make it!! Maggie xx

  • I love making pesto! These are such good tips and tricks 🙂 Thanks!

    xx Emily

  • Homemade pesto is nice, my dad always makes it with fresh basil grown on our windowsill 🙂 so yummy!

    Pip x

  • Love this recipe!

    Also, you guys must be reading my mind. I’m trying to cook more at school this year and your recipes for pesto and granola were exactly what I was looking for!

    Kathy 🙂

  • Pesto is the most delicious food to eat!!!
    I simply love this with some pasta and some chicken!! Also you could add some cherry tomatoes, DELICIOUS!

    Love, Saar

  • i think this is meant to be! i just got a food processor for my birthday & i have some basil trees growing in my garden 😉

  • Yum! This is pretty much how I make pesto. Regarding the comment asking about nut substitutes, my very Italian grandfather, who makes the best pesto EVER, throws in whatever nuts he has on hand. Cashews are great, and I’ve also used almonds. And if you’re in a pinch, or someone is allergic to nuts, you can leave them out. The texture is a little different, but you still get that great basil taste.

  • This sounds absolutely incredible! I’m gonna have to try it for sure!

    xoxo Sarah

  • oh yumm! I grew my own basil this summer and had that on my to do list, thanks for reminding me!

  • Adding lemon juice is something that I have never done, but will try it next time. So excited! I love pesto, especially on bread with butter, cheese and tomatoes. I just wish pine nuts weren’t so expensive 🙁

  • This looks delicious! I have a huge basil plant that I need to start using, so this recipe looks perfect! I love the idea of using it as a sauce on pizza.
    I’ve seen other pesto recipes that use walnuts instead of pine nuts, so I might try making that substitution to keep the cost down.

  • This looks fabulous! Basil seems to be the only thing I’m capable of growing, so making pesto is probably a good idea, now that I have so much of it!

    Do you know of any good nut substitutions (aka thing I can use instead of pine nuts)? Pine nuts are amazing but tend to be super expensive, so I was wondering if y’all had tried any alternatives! Now off to creep on that delicious looking pizza…

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