Skinnytaste > Sauces, Dips and Spreads > Homemade Basil Pesto

Homemade Basil Pesto

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

I plant a ton of basil every summer just so I can make this healthy, homemade Basil Pesto recipe with basil, olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.

Homemade Basil Pesto
Homemade Basil Pesto

This time every summer, the basil plants in my garden are lush and beautiful, full of fragrant leaves I like to pick and add to whatever I’m cooking. I love it in a simple garden sauceheirloom tomato saladgrilled chicken bruschetta, and a lovely summer fish dish – to name a few. But homemade pesto without nuts is what I make the most with my basil.

What is basil pesto made of?

Pesto is one of the things I whip up all summer long, but most recipes for basil pesto usually have a lot of oil and fat. To make it lighter, I use less oil and leave the pine nuts out, and no one ever complains. Feel free to add them if you wish.

  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil

How to Make Basil Pesto

Make pesto with fresh basil in two easy steps.

  1. In a food processor or blender, pulse basil, garlic, parmesan, salt, and pepper until smooth.
  2. Slowly pour in the olive oil while pulsing.


Making pesto at the end of the summer and freezing it is a great way to use up the last of the basil from your garden so you can enjoy it all winter long.

Freeze pesto in ice cube trays, mini silicone muffin pans, zip-locked bags, or small containers for up to three months. If using muffin or ice cube trays, transfer the pesto to a freezer-storage bag once frozen. You could also freeze spoonfuls of pesto on a parchment-lined baking tray and transfer them to a bag once frozen.

How to Serve Basil Pesto

Homemade basil pesto is the perfect sauce for so many dishes.

  • Pasta: Coat zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or your favorite pasta with pesto, and add some shrimp or chicken and roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, or spinach.
  • Sandwich: Spread the pesto on a baguette or ciabatta and top with grilled or roasted veggies and mozzarella.
  • Burgers: Top turkey or veggie burgers with pesto mayo.
  • Marinade: Marinate shrimp or chicken in pesto.
  • Pizza: Swap tomato sauce for pesto on homemade pizza.
  • Grain Bowl: Mix pesto with couscous or brown rice and top with chicken and grilled vegetables, like zucchini, tomatoes, and onions.

Most Asked Questions

What kind of basil do you use for pesto?

Buy sweet basil for pesto.

How much basil do you use for pesto?

You’ll need one packed cup of basil for pesto.

Are pine nuts essential for pesto?

I never add pine nuts to my pesto because they are so expensive and add more fat, but you can use them if you wish. For a less pricey option, try almonds or walnuts.

Why is my homemade basil pesto bitter?

The olive oil can become bitter if you process the pesto too much. Process all the ingredients, then add the olive oil last. So, be careful when blending, and if your pesto does taste bitter, try adding a little extra salt or cheese.

How long does homemade basil pesto last?

Homemade basil lasts three days in the refrigerator or three months in the freezer.

Homemade Basil Pesto

More Pesto Recipes You’ll Love:

Homemade Basil Pesto

4.95 from 18 votes
I plant a ton of basil every summer just so I can make this Homemade Basil Pesto! Made with basil, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese.
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Homemade Basil Pesto
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Yield: 5 servings
Serving Size: 1 Tbsp


  • 1 cup basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil


  • In a food processor pulse basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until smooth.
  • Slowly add the olive oil while pulsing.
  • Store in a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use or you can freeze this in ziplocks bags to use at a later date.

Last Step:

Please leave a rating and comment letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business to thrive and continue providing free, high-quality recipes for you.


Serving: 1 Tbsp, Calories: 86 kcal, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Protein: 2.5 g, Fat: 8.5 g, Sodium: 94 mg, Fiber: 0.5 g


Rate and review this recipe!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this Recipe:

152 comments on “Homemade Basil Pesto”

  1. We are going on vacation soon and, of course my basil plants have gone crazy. I hated to have it go to seed while we are gone, so I quickly harvested some of it and tried this pesto recipe. It is so good, I am freezing the remaining pesto in tablespoon portions to use for different recipes when we get back. It was so easy and delicious. I have not been a big pesto fan, but this has changed my mind. Thank you again for sharing another super recipe.

  2. This was our dinner tonight with whole wheat spaghetti. I roasted grape tomatoes and added it along with a pinch of crushed red pepper . So delicious and fresh!

  3. This is absolutely the best pesto sauce! Made as is. I put it on a bobilli pizza shell and I make a margarita pizza. So yummy!!!

  4. Avatar photo

    Great way to use up the basil in my garden and have always thought of using it for pesto, although the one thing that puts me off is the pine nuts. So this is a great recipe for me to try out.

  5. I also have LOADS of fresh basil. Since we live in a rural area, pine nuts are virtually nonexistent in our little grocery store, so I sub slivered almonds.  I also like to freeze the pesto in ice cube trays..when frozen, pop them out and store in a freezer bag. Instant portion control!  With our garden abundance of fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage, I stuff them in ice cube trays and cover with olive oil. I pop them out and store in freezer bags as well. So good to add when roasting chicken or turkey.  Nearly fresh herbs in the! 

  6. Hi! Apologies if this has been asked already, but approximately how long does this keep in the fridge/freezer, respectively?