How to Make Homemade Basil Pesto.

Here is how I make classic basil pesto at home. It’s incredibly simple and flavorful, while only using a handful of fresh ingredients. 

Here is how I make classic basil pesto at home. It's incredibly simple and flavorful, while only using a handful of fresh ingredients.

Here is my absolute favorite recipe for homemade basil pesto. It’s classic simple, flavorful, and oh-so-fresh! Homemade basil pesto is much easier than you think and tastes worlds better than anything coming from a jar.

You’ll need a few very basic ingredients, which can be subbed for similar ingredients as noted in the recipe below. For a twist, I like to add a bit cayenne. Instead of pine nuts, I love using walnuts. See more variations below.

Here is how I make classic basil pesto at home. It's incredibly simple and flavorful, while only using a handful of fresh ingredients.

Here is how I make classic basil pesto at home. It's incredibly simple and flavorful, while only using a handful of fresh ingredients.

You’ll also need a food processor. The ingredients blend together rather easily, so if you don’t have a fancy schmancy food processor, no worries! It will still taste like pesto and it will still be remarkably good. You can’t go wrong. (Pesto is really that easy.)

I like to add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Not much, but just enough to brighten everything up and really make it stand out from other pestos I’ve had.

The BEST Homemade Basil Pesto with tasty variations!

Basil pesto is my favorite multi-purpose sauce. Its nutty, cheesy, garlic flavor goes with… well… just about anything! Stumped for ways to use it? Here are ways I enjoy pesto.

Some serving suggestions:

  • Pesto tortellini: served as a sauce over cooked tortellini with parmesan cheese and fresh diced tomatoes.
  • Pesto bruschetta: bake slices of a fresh baguette in a 400°F (204°C) oven until golden. Top with pesto, parmesan cheese, and fresh diced tomatoes.
  • Pesto veggie sandwich: spread pesto mixed with mayonnaise on toasted bread, add favorite cheese, greens, and tomato.
  • Pesto grilled cheese: brush 2 slices thick-cut crusty bread with pesto, add provolone or cheddar, butter the outside of the bread and cook both sides on a griddle or skillet until golden brown.
  • Pesto hummus: blend in 2 Tablespoons of pesto with garlic hummus. (So good.)
  • Use it as a dip for crusty bread.
  • Serve over meats or shrimp.
  • Or P-I-Z-Z-A!

Roasted Garlic Chicken & Mozzarella Pizza with Homemade Basil Pesto

(You have to try this roasted garlic chicken & mozzarella pizza with pesto recipe. Talk about flavor!)

Here is how I make classic basil pesto at home. It's incredibly simple and flavorful, while only using a handful of fresh ingredients.

Do you like pesto? What are ways you enjoy it?

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 


Homemade Basil Pesto

Here is how I make classic basil pesto at home. It's incredibly simple and flavorful, while only using a handful of fresh ingredients.


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves1
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts2
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional but recommended)
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and fresh ground pepper


  1. Blend the basil, pine nuts, cheese, and garlic together in a food processor or blender. Pour oil in slowly while still mixing (or a little at a time, then mix, then more oil, then mix again, etc). Scrape down the sides, then add lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until everything is blended together and relatively smooth. Taste and add more salt/pepper if desired.
  2. Make ahead/storing: Store leftover pesto in a jar, tightly seal, and refrigerate for up to a week. Freeze the pesto for up to 2-3 months. You can freeze it in greased ice cube trays and thaw small portions at a time.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Instead of basil, try other greens like spinach or arugula.
  2. Instead of pine nuts, I love using walnuts. You can also try pecans, pistachios, or almonds. For a nut-free pesto, try edamame, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, or sunflower seeds.

Other tasty pesto variations: try adding your favorite herbs like cilantro, mint, or parsley. Add your favorite spices like cayenne, ground ginger, or paprika. Or add a dash of your favorite hot sauce.

Did you make a recipe?

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.


How to Make Homemade Basil Pesto plus tons of other tasty variations!

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  1. Laura ~ RYG on April 24, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Do I love pesto? Oh how let me count the ways! I love using fresh ingredients because it allows me to pass myself off as a better cook than I really am =) And I’ve never thought to sub in walnuts for pine nuts! Will do !!

  2. Jenna on April 24, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Love how you used walnuts instead of pine nuts! Definitely much easier and affordable to find in the grocery store! Will have to try your version 🙂

  3. Heather - Butter & Burlap on April 24, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Yes, I love pesto! This week I made homemade pesto with campanelle, squash and zucchini for my dinner all week and it was uhmazing! I’m very curious about this lemon addition to your pesto… what does it do flavor wise?

    • Sally on April 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      Just adds a little zing! I love it in pesto, Heather. Try it!

  4. Megan @ Pip and Ebby on April 24, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I went through a phase a few years ago when I was making a recipe very similar to this one A LOT. And I was putting pesto on EVERYTHING. It is soooo yummy and easy. I love adding it to eggs. Gorgeous photos, as always!

  5. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) on April 24, 2015 at 9:55 am

    mmmm I LOVE that you used roasted garlic in this pesto! I def. need to try that!

  6. Alexis @ Upside Down Pear on April 24, 2015 at 11:55 am

    There are days when all you feel like making is boiled noodles and throwing some sauce on top. This would be perfect for those days, and any of the other things you mentioned. I love pesto as it’s super fresh and who can resist basil. My boyfriend’s not a fan of marinara sauce so I thought this would be a good alternative…he’s like I don’t care for pesto either. What a killjoy 😛 Maybe I’ll just have to make it from scratch instead to see if I can’t change his mind 😉

    • Sally on April 24, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      I think this homemade pesto will totally change his mind! seriously love this stuff.

  7. Katie on April 24, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Hi Sally- can I omit all types if nuts for the pesto? I have a son with a peanut/tree nut allergy, but I think he would really like the pesto pizza! Will it compromise the flavor too much? Thanks!

    • Sally on April 24, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Hi Katie! I just added some nut-free alternatives to the notes. For a nut-free pesto, try edamame, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, or sunflower seeds.

      • Katie on April 25, 2015 at 10:19 am

        Thank you!

  8. Anna on April 25, 2015 at 2:31 pm
  9. Jessica @ Sprinkle Some Sugar on April 26, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I have an undying love for basil pesto and for some reason I haven’t tried to make it myself, I’ve only had it out at restaurants. I will be trying your recipe one night this week!

    • Sally on April 27, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Awesome. Let me know how you like this homemade pesto Jessica!

  10. Austria Azaceta on April 28, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Hi Sally,
    I love love love basil pesto…(i love basil period!) This sounds great! Will definitely be trying very soon…..possibly on the pizza! (sounds & looks amazing) I like to use spaghetti squash a lot & i bet this pesto would be great on that! Thanks so much for the recipe!!

  11. Linda on May 12, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Sally. Love your blog and many delish recipes! Just wanted to let you know I tried this today and it was great! I am growing my own basil so it was really fresh and tasty. I Chose cashews for the nuts because I didn’t have pine nuts but had those almonds and pecans and thought the cashews would give it a flavor.

    I did make the pizza but because we are red sauce addicts I brushed a layer of pesto then poured some red sauce And finished with the chicken and mozzarella cheese.

    I made my own pizza dough recipe using whole white wheat flour and it was just great! Thanks for another great recipe!

    • Sally on May 13, 2015 at 8:40 am

      So glad to hear you loved it with cashews and your own fresh basil. Sounds amazing.

  12. Derek @ Dad With A Pan on May 12, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    Is that a ninja blender I spy? This looks amazing, basil pesto is my favorite. especially in the morning on an egg sandwich!

    • Sally on May 13, 2015 at 8:38 am

      Yes. I use my Ninja for nearly everything.

      • Greata Lewis on March 17, 2016 at 8:44 am

        Hi Sally…what an amazing site…Love Love Love Pesto, have never made my own always bought…Do I have to use a blender. and is that Ninja Blender available in South Africa. Who is the blender made by. I have printed your recipe so am looking forward to try make my own. I normally buy in bulk and freeze…so much easier…xx

  13. LaTrice on May 24, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    I LOVE pesto, and I would use it on grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburgers, and pasta. Although I’m interested in trying the pesto with roasted garlic, is it possible that I can used minced garlic? 
    Thanks, Sally!! 🙂

    • Sally on May 25, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      Minced garlic would work, yes!

      • LaTrice on May 25, 2015 at 6:43 pm

        Okay. Thanks!! 🙂

  14. Jennifer Nester on July 28, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    We have been growing our own food lately and one of the items is Basil. I made this Pesto and brought it to a friends house and apparently did not make enough. It was practically gone the minute I put it out. It’s truly fantastic! I did not have Pine Nuts (man those are expensive), so I used Pecans that I had on hand. I think I like better with Pecans. Thank you for sharing this recipe… it’s truly devine!

    • Sally on July 28, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      So glad it was a hit. I’m not surprised it disappeared!

  15. Ann on June 23, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    I can’t have any Dairy Products. Any receipes w/out cheese?

  16. Jodi on June 29, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    For those who are allergic or sensitive to dairy, you can substitute about a tablespoon of white miso paste for the Parmesan in any pesto recipe. You will swear it has real cheese in it and will fool your dairy lovers. 🙂

  17. AntiiueJunkieBB on August 17, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Oh I Love Pesto and cannot wait to try this homemade version. Would like to make to keep in bulk. Sounds Awesome. As well as Went to try your Peach Pecan Crisp last night and the store left my oats out of bag. So disappointed and making Today with some Fresh Peachs. Cannot wait to try. Looks Amazing! ! Thanks for Great Recipes. .

  18. Selee Min on September 5, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    Just trying this out for myself, but what is the serving amount from this recipe?

    • Sally on September 5, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      I believe the “normal” serving amount of pesto is 2 Tbsp.

  19. Brian on September 6, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    It’s been on my bucket list to make pesto from scratch. Mission accomplished. Thank you.

  20. Ivy Gaille Dela Peña on October 11, 2016 at 5:44 am

    Hi! I used the dough for your one rise cinnamon roll to form into balls with cheese stuffed inside, after which I rolled the balls into your pesto mix, baked it and oh my gosh!! It’s the best! Thank you for making me feel like a kitchen expert

    • Sally on October 11, 2016 at 9:18 am

      That sounds delicious and so creative!

  21. Rachel Stevens on January 25, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Hey Sally! I love your blog. If I wanted a thicker pesto, would I use less oil or increase the amount of nuts used? Thanks so much.

    • Sally on January 26, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Hey Rachel! I would increase the nuts.



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