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This homemade basil pesto is made with a handful of fresh and flavorful ingredients. Quick and versatile, pesto can be used in a variety of recipes like my sausage & garlic pesto flatbread, pesto shrimp, or mixed with cooked pasta, roasted vegetables, spread on sandwiches, artisan bread, and more. And, as a bonus, this from-scratch pesto is much easier than you think and tastes worlds better than store-bought.

homemade basil pesto

This homemade basil pesto is my absolute favorite. It’s classic, simple, flavorful, and completely fresh. You’ll appreciate how easily it comes together and that it tastes infinitely better than store-bought versions. Homemade pesto can be a dip, sauce, or spread and pairs wonderfully with so many flavors. Bottom line? Pesto is an easy way to instantly elevate any savory dish.

This Homemade Basil Pesto Is:

  • Fresh and flavorful
  • Incredibly versatile
  • Ready in minutes
  • Made with just a few ingredients
  • Easy to customize with what you have on hand
  • Extra flavorful with roasted garlic
basil pesto ingredients

fresh basil

Overview: Ingredients In Homemade Basil Pesto

For ingredient substitutions, see my recipe notes.

  • Basil: Fresh basil leaves are the base of this pesto recipe. Rinse and pat dry before using.
  • Pine Nuts: Pine nuts add structure to the pesto. If I’m having trouble finding pine nuts, sometimes I’ll swap them for walnuts, pistachios, or almonds. For a nut-free version, try cooked and cooled edamame, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, or sunflower seeds.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan cheese adds a little saltiness and helps the pesto stick together. It’s honestly the best part.
  • Garlic: It goes without saying that garlic adds incredible flavor to homemade pesto. For even more flavor, try using roasted garlic. (Here’s how to roast garlic.)
  • Olive Oil: Not only does olive oil add flavor, it also helps create an unbeatable creamy and rich consistency.
  • Lemon Juice: 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice brightens everything up and really helps the other flavors shine. Many recipes don’t call for it, but I highly recommend it. Trust me on this one!
  • Salt & Pepper: Both add flavor.

Make it your own: For a twist, try adding your favorite herbs like cilantro, mint, or parsley, your favorite spices like cayenne, ground ginger, or paprika, or add a dash of your favorite hot sauce.

Overview: How to Make Homemade Pesto

Basil pesto comes together in a matter of minutes, which–besides its incredible taste and versatility– is another bonus. You need a food processor or blender to begin. The ingredients blend together rather easily, so if you don’t have a fancy food processor, don’t worry. It will still taste like pesto and it will still be remarkably good. You can’t go wrong. (Pesto is really that easy.)

  • Blend the basil, pine nuts, cheese, and garlic together in a food processor or blender. Add the olive oil and pulse/process to blend. Scrape down the sides of the blender bowl, then add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse this mixture until everything is blended together and relatively smooth. Taste and add more seasoning and any extra herbs/spices if desired.
pesto in food processor

basil pesto

How To Use Homemade Pesto

If you need inspiration, here are the ways I enjoy using basil pesto:

  • Pesto Tortellini: Use as a sauce over cooked tortellini with parmesan cheese and fresh diced tomatoes.
  • Shrimp: Try my creamy pesto shrimp dinner recipe– it’s quick!
  • Pizza: Use it in place of pizza sauce on pizza crust. Try my sausage & garlic pesto flatbread or my roasted garlic chicken pesto pizza.
  • Pesto Bruschetta: Bake slices of a fresh baguette in a 400°F (204°C) oven until golden. Top with pesto, parmesan cheese, and diced fresh tomatoes.
  • Stuffed Peppers: Use pesto in my sausage stuffed peppers recipe instead of the chicken broth. (Same amount– tastes fantastic.)
  • Star Bread: Use my star bread recipe and reduce the amount of sugar in the dough to 1 Tablespoon. Spread 1 heaping Tablespoon of pesto onto each of the 3 circles. (3 Tbsp total.) Top each with a light layer of shredded cheese, herbs, and/or chopped pepperoni.
  • Pesto Sandwich: Spread pesto on toasted bread, add your favorite cheese, greens, and tomato.
  • Pesto Grilled Cheese: Brush 2 slices of thick-cut crusty bread (like artisan bread) with pesto, add provolone or cheddar cheese, butter the outside of the bread, and cook both sides on a griddle or skillet until golden brown.
  • Hummus: Blend 2 Tablespoons of pesto with garlic hummus.
  • As a Dip: Use it as a dip for crusty bread.
  • As a Spread: spread it on olive bread or your favorite loaf.
  • With Meats or Shrimp: Serve over cooked meats or shrimp.
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homemade basil pesto

Homemade Basil Pesto

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Italian


This is how I make classic basil pesto at home. It’s incredibly simple and flavorful and uses only a handful of fresh ingredients.


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves*
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts*
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic (roasted or fresh)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Pulse the basil, pine nuts, cheese, and garlic together in a food processor or blender. Scrape down the sides, then add the oil, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse until everything is blended together and relatively smooth. Taste and add pepper (and/or more salt) if desired. I always add a pinch of pepper.
  2. Store leftover pesto in a jar or sealable container, tightly seal, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.


  1. Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Basil or Other Greens: Instead of basil, try other greens like spinach, kale, or arugula. No matter which greens you choose, rinse and pat dry before using.
  3. Nuts: If I’m having trouble finding pine nuts, sometimes I’ll swap them for walnuts, pistachios, or almonds. For a nut-free version, try cooked and cooled edamame, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, or sunflower seeds.
  4. Other 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.

Keywords: homemade basil pesto, how to make basil pesto

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I made this today. Didn’t have fresh basil so I substituted with freeze dried basil…very delicious…I am planning to use it on spaghetti squash…

  2. Wow, made this today and it’s delicious…..we use your website for many of our baking recipes and it’s our “go to”. Thank you for your easy to read and fabulous recipes

    Jolien from South Africa

  3. I find that toasting the pine nuts before incorporating them will enhance the pesto tremendously. Also, if you have a mortar and pestle along with some determination, use it. The end result is phenomenal. I don’t know why, but pounding the leaves with the garlic, salt, and roasted pine nuts produces results that are superior to those using a food processor blade. The addition of lemon juice is a brilliant suggestion.

  4. Excellent recipe. I swapped the basil for basil mint leaves and it turned out beautifully. Our summers aren’t always warm enough for basil to grow well but the basil mint does very well and tastes very similar.

  5. Absolutely delicious! I like the boost it gets from a touch of lemon. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  6. This is by far the best pesto recipe I’ve used or had. Made 8 cups of home made pesto 2 weeks ago, using this recipe and everyone loves it. I wish I could post a picture of my dinner, it was the bomb. I love you baking recipes a and now this! Winner winner!

  7. I’am from India . I love all your recipes. Thy are simple and easy to follow . And the outcome is delicious.
    I tried your granola , almond berry bar, pizza base and pesto pasta recipe. All of it came very well
    If u could suggest something good to try in vegetarian.

  8. This recipe would serve how many people over pasta, approximately? I’ll be serving it over linguine, as a side with chicken parm for 11 people…

    1. Sophie, It makes one cup of pesto. How far it goes really just depends on how heavily/lightly you coat the pasta. You can always double it and if you have leftovers you can freeze it (see the recipe notes for details).

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