How to Make Basil Pesto with just 5 simple pesto ingredients. This healthy pesto recipe is so easy to make and it’s the perfect pesto sauce recipe for easy dinners and amazing appetizers.

How To Make Basil Pesto recipeHow to Make Basil Pesto

Everyone needs to know how to make basil pesto! There are so many recipes with pesto from basil pesto pasta, and basil pesto chicken, to simple appetizers like my delicious Pesto Cream Cheese Spread or these Sun Dried Tomato, Pesto, and Garlic Bites. Pesto,  Basil pesto sauce adds a bright, fresh flavor to any dish that it is used in.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Thank you!ingredients on How To Make Basil Pesto

The key to a great homemade pesto is fresh, quality ingredients. There are only a few things that go into making basil pesto so each one needs to have as much flavor as possible.

Basil Pesto ingredients:

  • Basil – You can use Sweet Basil (which is what I used) or Classic Basil. Both have a great flavor. You cannot use dried basil for pesto.
  • Olive Oil – Use the best quality olive oil you can. A better quality oil has a richer flavor that adds to the taste of the pesto.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Use a fresh Parmesan cheese for pesto. It doesn’t have to Parmigiano-Reggiano (but if you have it use it!) but it should be a high quality Parmesan. Do not use the powdered Parmesan you find on grocery store shelves.
  • Pine Nuts – Yum! I love pine nuts (also called pignoli! These pretty little nuts have a milk flavor and the oil in them adds to the texture of the pesto. If you don’t have pine nuts handy you can substitute with walnuts or almonds. The flavor will be slightly different but still delicious.
  • Garlic – I think using fresh garlic is the best but I’ll admit sometimes I cheat and use that minced garlic that comes in a jar. Both work 🙂

How To Make Basil Pesto in a food processor

Once you have your ingredients put everything except the olive oil into a food processor. I love my mini food processor, it’s perfect for making small batches of basil pesto! You’ll want to use a food processor that has a hole for adding ingredients as they are pureed. Pour in a little of the olive oil and set the food processor to puree. Keep pouring olive oil in as the pesto sauce is blending until you reach a smooth consistency. Add a little salt to taste and you’re done!

How To Make Basil Pesto for any pesto recipe

Can you Freeze Fresh Basil Pesto?

Yes, you can freeze basil pesto. Make the basil pesto according to the recipe but leave out the cheese. Cheese doesn’t freeze well. Place the pesto in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to a month. When you are ready to use it thaw and bring to room temperature before serving (do not heat it!). Then stir in the cheese, you can use the blender again if you want to break the cheese up more.

What Can you Use Instead of Basil in Pesto?

Once you’ve mastered how to make basil pesto you can start getting creative. You can make pesto with baby spinach, artichoke hearts, arugula…Most of these still use a little basil in them to help balance them but they all have their own distinct flavor!

That’s it! That’s all you need to know to about how to make basil pesto. It’s a super simple recipe that you’ll be able to use in all sorts of easy dinner recipes.

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Servings: 8
Prep Time: 15 mins

Basil Pesto


  • 2 cups Fresh Basil, packed firmly
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1-2 cloves Garlic
  • 2/3 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste


  • Place all ingredients except for olive oil and salt in a food processor. Add half of the olive oil and begin to puree.
  • Continue to pour the olive oil into the mixture as it purees until you reach a smooth consistency.
  • Add salt to taste and enjoy!


Serving: 2tablespoons, Calories: 213kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 4mg, Sodium: 100mg, Potassium: 48mg, Vitamin A: 365IU, Vitamin C: 1.2mg, Calcium: 85mg, Iron: 0.6mg
Nutrition Disclaimer: We are not certified nutritionists. Nutrition facts are an estimate and are provided as a courtesy. They are generated by an online API which recognizes ingredient names and amounts and makes calculations based on the serving size. Results may vary.
Author: Kat Jeter & Melinda Caldwell
Course: Main dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: basil pesto, how to make pesto, pesto sauce