Homemade Pesto Sauce

By Rena Awada | Updated On January 16, 2024

This Homemade Pesto Sauce is the perfect recipe to replace your store-bought pesto sauce. It is easy to make and so delicious you won’t want to go back to any premade pesto sauce.

homemade pesto recipe with basil in a jar with a spoonful of pesto and a slice of half lemon behind the jar


It takes only a handful of main ingredients to make this homemade pesto recipe. There are many variations of homemade pestos. You can certainly swap the pine nuts with walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc. We love the taste of pine nuts, especially when it’s lightly toasted. It gives it that strong and unique flavor!

We love using fresh basil to make homemade Pesto. It is the most important ingredient when it comes to making pesto at home. Fresh basil works best for a homemade pesto sauce because of the intense flavor it gives it but you can replace it with other greens like cilantro, kale, arugula, spinach, etc. but honestly, nothing beats the taste of classic basil pesto!

Check out our Chicken Pesto Recipe, Easy Pesto Shrimp Recipe, and Pesto Salmon, which are made with homemade basil pesto.

Why you should make homemade pesto

  • Super easy: Making homemade pesto is simple and fun to make. Takes just about 10 minutes and no cooking is required.
  • Tastes much better than store-bought: Have you tried homemade pesto? It is a game changer and the taste is by far better and more rewarding.
  • More Affordable and Healthier: You should be able to make a huge batch of homemade pesto at a fraction of the cost of store-bought pesto, and it is 10 times better and healthier.
green pesto sauce in a jar with pine nuts and half lemon next to the jar

Ingredients for homemade pesto

  • Fresh basil leaves: we highly recommend that you use fresh basil for this recipe. Using dried basil is just not the same.
  • Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese: please grate your own at home. Makes a world of difference when compared to store-bought grated parmesan. You may also use Pecorino Romano in place of parmesan cheese.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: no swaps for this. Only use Olive Oil.
  • Lemon Juice: do use fresh lemons. Can’t compare with bottles of lemon juice.
  • Pine nuts: we do like using pine nuts instead of other nuts but other nuts like walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, or pistachios work too.
  • Garlic cloves: Only fresh garlic cloves. No garlic powder. No substitutions
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • Don’t have a food processor? You can use Mortar And Pestle and hand-grind everything. It is so much fun.
  • For a vegan option: swap the cheese with nutritional yeast.
  • Freshly ground black pepper, or to your taste
top view of food processor with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, and shaved parmesan cheese in it

How to make homemade Pesto

  • Heat a small frying pan on low heat.
  • Add in the pine nuts and cook until golden brown for about 3-4 minutes. Keep shaking the frying pan every couple of seconds to prevent the nuts from over-coloring and burning.
  • Place all ingredients except olive oil into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped.
  • Continue processing while gradually adding oil in a steady stream, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the food processor.
  • Transfer to a 10 oz jar and keep refrigerated for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 3 months
olive oil being added into the food process base with all the other ingredients to make homemade pesto

frequently asked questions

What can I use instead of pine nuts in Pesto?

Pine nuts can be very expensive or you may not be able to find some pine nuts in your local stores. There are a few alternatives to using pine nuts:
Almonds – Almonds are a great substitute for pine nuts while maintaining taste.
Walnuts – Another great substitute without affecting the creamy texture and taste
Pistachios – These are also a very good alternative to pine nuts and give it that vibrant green color. Some may even say it is the best substitute.
Hazelnut – This is also an option but not the best choice since the taste will be altered a bit.
Macadamia nuts – Ok to use but not the best option compared to the others above.

How long does homemade Pesto Last?

Homemade pesto is made of fresh ingredients without any preservatives to help keep them fresh for a very long time. Therefore they will be good in a closed jar in the fridge for 7 days. You can freeze your homemade presto into cubes and store it for up to 6 months.

Should you toast pine nuts for pesto?

The right answer would be NO. You don’t have to toast the pine nuts for your pesto recipe. Toasting it does add a nice taste to the homemade pesto but it is an option. You don’t even have to use pine nuts and can substitute pine nuts with other nuts like walnuts and pistachios.

jar of pesto with a spoon in a jar with homemade pesto

Storage Recommendations

The amazing thing about homemade basil pesto is how easy it is to make and how easy it is to store and reuse.

Wondering how long your homemade pesto lasts? You can store your homemade pesto sauce by placing it in a lidded mason jar or an airtight container for about 7 days in the fridge, and use it as needed.

You can also freeze pesto! They can be frozen for up to 6 months. We recommend that you freeze smaller portions in ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove from the trays or molds and place them in a freezer-safe bag before freezing them again. Use as needed.

close up a jar of pesto sauce with a spoonful of pesto

Ways to use Pesto Sauce

There are so many ways to eat or use your homemade pesto sauce. Options are endless but here are a few great ideas to consider.

  • Use in pasta – Any kind of pasta works. They work perfectly well together. Check out our Shrimp Pesto Pasta Recipe and our Salmon Pesto Pasta. You may even serve it some some spaghetti squash.
  • Salad Dressings – Mix some pesto in with your salad dressings for some flavor boost like our chicken pesto pasta salad
  • Add over Bruschetta – swap the cheese with some pesto and top with roasted tomatoes
  • Dips – Mix it in with some dips
  • Pizza sauce– Swap your pizza sauce with pesto sauce! so yummy.
  • Top over veggies – try adding or tossing some pesto sauce over roasted veggies.
  • Use in breakfast – Add over eggs or on a sandwich.
  • Add to your Caprese salad or sandwich– Pesto adds a huge flavor boost with your Caprese salad
side shot of homemade pesto in a jar with a spoon full of pesto

More Recipes with Pesto

spoon full of pesto sauce in the jar of pesto sauce

Recipes you may like

green pesto sauce in a jar with pine nuts and half lemon next to the jar

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side shot of homemade pesto in a jar with a spoon full of pesto

Homemade Pesto Sauce Recipe

Easy to make Homemade pesto sauce in just under 10 minutes. Made with pine nuts, fresh basil, parmesan cheese, fresh garlic, and olive oil.
4.89 from 18 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Diet: Diabetic
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 126kcal
Author: Rena

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Fresh basil leaves packed
  • 1/2 Cup Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Lemon Juiced
  • 1/3 Cup Pine nuts or other nuts like walnuts or pistachios
  • 2 Garlic cloves peeled
  • 1/2 Tsp Sea salt, or to your taste
  • 1/4 Tsp Freshly ground black pepper, or to your taste

Instructions

  • Heat a small frying pan on low heat.
  • Add in the pine nuts and cook until golden for about 3-4 minutes. Keep shaking the frying pan every couple of seconds to prevent the nuts from over-coloring and burning.
  • Place all ingredients except olive oil into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped.
  • Continue processing while gradually adding oil in a steady stream, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the food processor.
  • Transfer to a 10 oz jar and keep refrigerated for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Video

Notes

TIP: To freeze, pour into an ice cube tray and place in the freezer for 2 hours. Remove the frozen pesto cubes and store them in a resealable plastic bag until future use.
Note: the nutrition fact is for about 2 tablespoons. The entire cup is 1509 calories.

Nutrition

Calories: 126kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 161mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 247IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 1mg
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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Suzette MacSkimming says

    5 stars
    Excellent Pesto! I made it with toasted walnutsm given the price of pinenuts and it’s hard to tell the difference. Also I didn’t have quite 2 cups of fresh basil and used about 1/3 cup of fresh arugula from our garden. It is quite delicious.

  2. KC says

    5 stars
    Delightful !! We absolutely loved it! We made a few batches to freeze in ice cube trays and use a few cubes as we need to for pasta, cooking veggies, etc.

  3. Elle says

    5 stars
    This is absolutely delicious and I’m not even much of a pesto fan.
    Also I have never made a recipe that I don’t end up doctoring but this was spot on. Yum!

      • MB says

        5 stars
        First time making homemade pesto and absolutely loved this recipe. I will definitely make this again and again. Only had enough basil for 1 1/2 cups so added kale to get to the 2 cups. Substituted pistachios for the pine nuts. It was soooo delicious. Thanks!

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